Scratch a Cook for a Gumbo Recipe – Sometimes

State Archives of Florida RC04555

Pulitzer Prize winning author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings tested all her recipes in her home kitchen with her husband documenting measurements. The recipes appear in  her cookbook companion to Cross Creek. She once wrote “Scratch a cook and you’ll get a recipe.” Photo Credit: State of Florida Archives RC04555

Cross Creek Cookery

Cross Creek Cookery, a cookbook companion to Cross Creek, was first published in 1942. For sample recipes, click here.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Yearling, also wrote a cookbook — Cross Creek Cookery. She doesn’t include a gumbo recipe, but she does drop a few clues as to what gumbo she might enjoy.

A native of Washington, D.C, Rawlings is considered a Florida writer, having spent most of her life writing from her home in Cross Creek.  She writes about “Florida Crackers,” the pioneer settlers of wild Florida; most of the recipes in Cross Creek Cookery reflect their tastes.

Though some seafood recipes, even lobster, are included, the closest thing to gumbo is turtle soup. The book, which includes humorous anecdotes, sold almost as many copies as Cross Creek and The Yearling.  They sold nearly half-a-million copies apiece. Eighteen years after Cross Creek Cookery first appeared, Rawlings came out with a British edition.

Before moving to Florida, she was writing about cooking, kitchens, housework and

State of Florida Archives Prophet  COM00772

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ home near Hawthorne is now a Florida State Park and Historic Site. Photo Credit: State of Florida Archives/Prophet. Image COM00772

gardening in “Songs of a Housewife.”  Six days a week for almost two years, she penned humorous “newspaper poems,” a total of  495, for the Rochester Times-Union.  The poems proved so popular, they were syndicated.

Her short stories (one won the O. Henry Award) also include references to Florida foods – pecans, quail, oysters and gophers.  No, not furry, rodents – dry land turtles. 

So, for Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings I recommend Gopher Gumbo – akin to turtle soup – a Florida favorite according to Northwest Florida’s First Poet Laureate, Adelia Rosaco Soule.

Turtle soup is more popular nowadays, and often served in fancy restaurants, but turtle gumbo is still around. Here’s a recipe for gumbo, but the biggest challenge might be finding turtle meat. Click here for tips on finding turtle meat that’s not endangered.

State of Florida Archives LaHart DL0101

Gopher gumbo was a popular dish in the Florida Panhandle in the early 1900s. Gopher Tortoise. State of Florida Archives/LaHart DL0101





About thegumbodiaries

On the search for the perfect gumbo!
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