The Communal Nature of Gumbo-Making

September 22, 2019

The Communal Nature of Gumbo-Making


Gumbo Series, Part 3

Gumbo is big, casual food for big casual get-togethers with family and friends. We love our gumbo here at Glover Gardens and especially enjoy making it with a crowd, for a crowd. It’s more than a dish, it’s a communal activity.

As my son pointed out in his 2011 7th grade essay that I reprinted in this post, Gumbo, It’s a Family Affair, I once taught 30 ladies at church to make gumbo and we produced enough for our 300 guests (ministers from other churches). It sounds a little daunting, but I simply gathered lots of knives and cutting boards and organized them around the same roles we have when we make it with a smaller group:

  • Chicken pickers
  • Sausage slicers
  • Vegetable choppers
  • Roux maker (that’s always me)

Working together like this to produce a delicious gumbo is really fun. The more gumbo you need to make, the more people you need for each role – or the more time the people in each role will need to pick, slice or chop. Since it doubles as a bonding activity, it doesn’t matter if it takes a while. Check out the photos below from a 2014 post-Thanksgiving gumbo-making fest. You can see that we have two vegetable choppers, left and middle, one sausage slicer, on the right, and one chicken picker (me), the results of which are showing in the foreground.

There have been many, many other gumbo parties. Once, during my time as a single mom, I was making gumbo for about 50 people one summer night, and my girlfriends from the neighborhood started showing up to help, with their kids in tow. Somehow the word had gotten out, or they just saw the cars parked in front of the house, and pretty soon, there were six of us moms around the kitchen table, chopping vegetables, slicing sausage and pickin’ chicken, talking up a storm, drinking a little wine and getting updates from our kids on the score of the pickup baseball game they were playing in the back yard. I wish I had pictures from that night – it was magic. One of my friends picked up the gumbo-making techniques from our time together that night, and now it’s a staple at her own family gatherings, often around the holidays. I love that. She texts me pictures of it sometimes, and I’ve heard from her now-grown sons that her gumbo rocks!

Another time, a little more recently, our team at work decided to enter the annual company cook-off benefitting the American Heart Association, and we gathered at Glover Gardens to do the picking, slicing and chopping. We won 2nd place! Even more recently, our family made gumbo together at our new little bay house in Mississippi. Good times.

There’s more to come in the Glover Gardens Gumbo Series, with the final post – and the hardest! – being the recipe.

Update: Peruse the Full Series

The recipe has been unveiled, and the Gumbo Series has (finally) come to a close. Here it is, in 5 parts:

© 2019, Glover Gardens

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