Chicken gumbo for the soul

Gumbo is a deep South comfort food. Chicken gumbo, that is. Granted, it’s not trendy or traditional like the chicken noodle soup pictured on the cover of Chicken Soup for the Soul.  And after September Eleventh, chicken noodle soup, not chicken gumbo, joined the ranks of comfort food  like meatloaf, fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. But, in my family, chicken gumbo was the celebratory food and the comfort food. Every Christmas Eve Mawmaw, my paternal grandmother, cooked chicken gumbo for all the family – sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins by the dozens. A few weeks before Christmas she’d select a hen from her chicken yard. That hen, from then on, received special Yuletide care. Somehow that one plump hen filled the pot and flavored a gumbo that fed dozens like a Biblical miracle. And chicken gumbo comforted the grieving and cured the ill. When someone was sick, Mawmaw made chicken gumbo and its miraculous flavor made everything better. When my aunt, the oldest of  Mawmaw’s daughters,  was in the hospital dying of pancreatic cancer, she asked for chicken gumbo.  My aunt died on that hospital stay, before the gumbo arrived, and Mawmaw refused to ever make chicken gumbo again.  No family cook could ever replicate the flavor of Mawmaw’s gumbo, and the secret of her chicken gumbo followed her to the grave. Perhaps it was spending hours stirring the roux over a gas stove or using a plump hand-picked hen. Maybe it was adding filé made by a friend. Whatever the secret, if someone is sick, I’ll cook whatever they desire, I only wish it could be gumbo.


About thegumbodiaries

On the search for the perfect gumbo!
This entry was posted in Dear Diary (Gumbo Experiences).... Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Chicken gumbo for the soul

  1. Becky Manning says:

    Mama says there is no recipe for it she just learned how to make it by watching Mawmaw , I’ve watched her make it and she never measures anything , She says that the only way to get the recipe is for you to come over and watch and learn how to do it . The only other person I know that makes Gumbo like Mawmaw and Mama is Mr. Roy King . Love your blog ,


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