"It's getting cold here in Chicago, " Bertha tells me. "And Al, he says he has to have his gumbo, but I don't know how to make it. So he says to me to call Granny, and that you would tell me how. So here's what I explained to that Yankee gal today.
"You have to start by making a roux. No Bertha, that's not what you use on cheeks. We got our names for things you gotta learn cause we were folks who started all of this. Put a lot of water in a pan, cause boys they got big appetites, and girls they play pretend but they like gumbo too. That's gonna be about a half gallon and maybe another quart or so. Depends on how many babies you got in your house today, cause Granny has a lot in Cloutierville.
Take your time and put in some flour, about half a cup or a little more, but don't get it real think. You ain't making cake, you know. Now let that simmer on the stove a little while, until it gets all brown lookin' and just a little thick. Then add some vegetables and spices. Now I'll say these slow and careful cause that's what makes gumbo good. Put in some salt and pepper. You probably have that. But then it gets a little harder, and that's what makes us Southern folks know better what to do. You put in some onions all chopped up. I figure I need to say something about that cause we don't want you droppin' in some vegetables just like you picked them out. Put in some garlic, green peppers and okra, and those spices like thyme, basil, bay leaf and cayenne pepper to spice it up a bit. When that's done put in cooked tomatoes and add some broth from some chicken you done cooked. And most of us we have our sausage too..
You don't know how to cook that chicken? Or the sausage? Well, you'll have to look up how to do all that cause making gumbo takes one real smart cook, and you gotta learn how to make those meats real good before you make the gumbo, or it just won't turn out right.
Then add the file powder just before the family gets to eat. You gonna have to shop around for that. The family likes to eat it over rice, but not so much you can't taste that gumbo really good."
And for you Yankee folks, you better have a glass of water close cause when you get a taste of gumbo all fired up like that, you'll know what gets us Southerns able to stand the heat in the kitchen after y'all done gone.