Why Margaret Mang named her gumbo “Hurricane Gumbo” I’ll never know for sure. But I have a good guess. Her 1982 recipe appears in A Cookbook from The Woman’s Club of Pensacola that I picked up at an estate sale over the weekend. I never knew Margaret and can’t call. She died seven years ago in Gulf Breeze, where I live.
The name of her original recipe fascinates me. I’ve never seen a gumbo recipe like it. I searched for others with the same name and identical ingredients, to no avail. The research was entertaining, though. I listened to the Chicago-based eight- piece zydeco band Hurricane Gumbo. (They play for money, not gumbo — that’s a Jimmy Buffett joke). I looked inside a poetry collection titled Hurricane Gumbo (not my cup of soup) that features a gumbo recipe on the back cover (not as intriguing as Margaret’s). And I read an urban legend about folks waiting-out a storm by making gumbo and drinking hurricanes, hence Hurricane Gumbo. None could compare with Margaret’s recipe.
Her concoction could easily be a storm-brewing version of “Gotta Go Soup” or “Mustgo,” as in everything must go. You know, cook it before it wastes. From June to November, those of us living along the Coast know we’ll lose power if a hurricane’s heading our way. So we clean out the refrigerator, down to the very last ingredient, and start cooking. My biggest clue for the recipe’s name is Margaret’s last ingredient, though she lists it as optional. I’ve never seen that before!No doubt buying all these ingredients at once could cost a fortune, so the next time I accumulate most of them, hurricane or not, I’m making Margaret Mang’s Hurricane Gumbo – and drinking the rest of the wine, claret or not. And then I’ll invite plenty of people over because this makes enough gumbo for the neighborhood.