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Old 11-03-2009, 02:26 PM   #16
"Always let your conscience be your guide."
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Originally Posted by NotUrsula View Post
Don't bet on that -- folks from outside Louisiana sometimes have a different definition of "spicy" than we do. I once made gumbo for the folks in my office up here and one of the ladies complained that I had lied to her when I said that the gumbo wasn't spicy. What was she complaining about? She objected to the presence of onions, garlic and a 1/2 tsp. of black pepper in the entire 2 gallon pot. (She was from Wisconsin.)

In S. Louisiana we usually define "spicy" as having a lot of heat from cayenne. Folks from elsewhere may define it as something as something else entirely. If onions and garlic make something spicy, then my gumbo definitely is, but it is not "hot" the way someone from Lafayette would define it.
You're right, I was using spicy as we use it here to mean FIRE!!!!!
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Old 11-03-2009, 03:02 PM   #17
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As long as we're on that topic, a bit of a warning about giving Grandma's recipe to folks from up North ... Filé can bite if you're not used to it and use too much without working up a tolerance.

Filé (ground dried sassafras leaves) is an aromatic herb. It is added to gumbo -- after cooking ONLY -- for the purpose of thickening. If you have never ingested filé before, you should know that it has two possible side effects if eaten, depending on how much you eat: 1) it will clear your sinuses, and 2) it can have a laxative effect. Filé chicken gumbo is great when you have a stuffy nose, because even the steam is medicinal. I've been eating filé regularly all my life, so it doesn't cause me any digestive difficulty, but I've had dinner guests become quite miserable with diarrhea if they follow my lead in terms of the amount that I put on my bowl. Use it sparingly until you determine how it affects you.

FTR, there are two traditional thickeners used in gumbo, and they do not mix well, so you should use one or the other, but not both. Filé is one of them. You don't want to add filé during cooking, because it turns bitter at more than about 200 degrees fahrenheit; just put it directly on what is in your bowl. The other possibility is sliced raw okra, which *is* added during the cooking process and must be cooked down to be effective, as it is the sap in it that is the thickener. I'm not an okra fan myself -- too slimy for me.
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