Fifteen new friends in 2015 just by making gumbo? And I don’t even invite them over to eat gumbo? According to Louisiana lore and Creole legend, it can happen if I add 15 greens when I make Gumbo Z’Herbes. I know this sounds like voodoo, but I’m giving it a try — not that there’s anything wrong with my old friends.
Gumbo Z’Herbes, also known as green gumbo, is usually reserved for Lent and in particular Holy Thursday. But why wait? I’m making it for the first time for New Year’s. It’s a lot more exciting than cooking black-eyed peas.
Pronounced “gumbo zahbs” or “gumbo zav,” it’s the greatest of all gumbos according to Leon Soniat, author of La Bouche Creole. He confirms that for each green vegetable I add, I will gain a new friend in the coming year. But the greens must be added in odd numbers — five, seven, eleven, thirteen, fifteen. Fifteen greens for fifteen new friends seems fitting for 2015.
I hope my local market has mustard greens, collards, turnip greens, green onions, celery tops, spinach, cabbage, kale, carrot tops, arugula, Swiss chard, flat leaf parsley, tarragon, water cress and chicory. If they don’t I have backup plan –Leon Soniat uses frozen greens.
Soniat and Emeril Lagasse both add meat to their new cuisine Gumbo Z’Herbes. Leah Chase, famed New Orleans cook and Queen of Creole Cuisine, calls for pickled pig’s feet and nine greens in her famous recipe. For a close look at Gumbo Z’Herbes “cooked up” by Chase, check out John Besh’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” short video for Food Network .
I’m using the authentic meatless recipe from gourmet and travel magazine Saveur. http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Gumbo-zHerbes
With my 15 new friends, I need to remember the round we used to sing in Girls Scouts – Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold!