The best gumbo cooks know they’re the best, and they know precisely why. For years, they reap the praises and admiration of friends and family. Their reputation travels through generations. But as they age, these great gumbo cooks face a tough dilemma. Should they take their secret to the grave or should they share the secret before they die? And, if they do, with whom do they share the secret? And, precisely when should they share? Take for instance the case of my friend’s mother who decided to share her gumbo secret with daughter-in-law #1. The mother taught the daughter-in-law step by step how to make the best seafood gumbo. Lo and behold, when daughter-in-law #1 started hosting family events, the tables turned. Every one in the family began raving about daughter-in-law #1’s gumbo – it was the best ever. Now that hurt Mama! Sharing the secret is sort of like making a roux. You think you know it’s time, but then maybe you could stir it a little longer just to make sure. But, if you stir too long, you burn the roux and it’s all over. It’s tricky. But, I’m glad this gumbo cook shared her secret, even if it was prematurely, because my friend shared it with me. Her mama’s seafood gumbo, which only had shrimp and crab, never fish or oysters, was the best gumbo in Mobile, Alabama, because of her philosophy — every single spoonful of seafood gumbo should have crab or shrimp in it! Now that’s a great gumbo guideline.
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