Gumbo time

National Gumbo Day is coming up! If you're looking for an excuse to celebrate gumbo, October 12 is your day.

There seem to be as many possible explanations of where the word gumbo originates as types of gumbo. However, most sources will tell you that the word likely originated from one of its two main ingredients, okra or filé. The Bantu word for okra, which itself comes from Africa, is ki ngombo or quingombo. In the language of the native Choctaw, filé was known as kombo. We know that Louisiana, gumbo's home, was influenced by the French, the Spanish, those of African ancestry and those of Native American ancestry. With gumbo, we can see and taste Louisiana's melting pot.

With this in mind, it's no surprise that gumbo is different things to different people. Some people thicken it with okra; others wouldn't think of putting a slice or pod of okra in the dish. Some gumbos include filé powder, others don't. Some people depend on a roux to thicken the dish. The AADL cookbook collection can get you started on an exploration of this delicacy.

Chef, author, and restaurateur Josh Besh gives you a variety of gumbo recipes in his book My New Orleans. There are "Drew's Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo," "Blake's Duck, Green Onion, and Chicken Sausage Gumbo," and "Seafood Gumbo" among others. That's not all; you'll find over 200 recipes in this book.

Beyond Gumbo, by Jessica Harris, is a cookbook that focuses on the "Atlantic rim." The recipes in this book venture beyond Louisiana, but focus on creole food from a variety of cultures surrounding the Atlantic. Here you'll find a recipe for "Aunt Sweet's Seafood Gumbo."

If you like your recipes presented in a down to earth fashion, Down Home with the Neelys might be your perfect gateway to gumbo cookery. Here you'll find a recipe for "Nana's Southern Gumbo," delivered in their signature casual style.