Interviewer: “Do you have any interesting or weird family traditions?”
Informant: “We have some like recipe insert that we’ll always make. Like we’ll typically make uh… gumbo on New Years and every month our family will try to meet up for family days just cuz everybody…there’s a lot of us and the family tree is kinda confusing so they just keep everyone on the same trend and have like monthly meetups where everyone is there. They’ll say ‘Oh let’s meet up at my grandparent’s house’ and then ‘okay great’. That’s the most of it. There’s…yeah that’s pretty much it.”
Interviewer: “Is it a special type of gumbo?”
Informant: “Well the tricky part is I don’t actually know what’s in the gumbo. My grandma’s the only one that knows the recipe and we’ve tried to get her to tell us and she’ll stand there and make it with us but she won’t like let us write it down or anything so…I guess so yeah. It’s a special pot of gumbo.”
Interviewer: “Okay…what is gumbo exactly?”
Informant: “Gumbo is…it’s a southern dish that’s sorta like a soup and so the thing that makes gumbo unique is you throw in a whole bunch of different like ingredients. You’ll put in shrimp, you’ll put in sausage,chicken,crab. Pretty much any meat that you got. It’s kinda like how the tradition started back in slavery where you like made soup out of whatever sort of meat you had and since then they were like ‘ah this is actually pretty good. Let’s keep doing this now that we can like pick what meat we get’. They kinda started picking and choosing what goes in there and so…in our pot we do shrimp, and crab, and some chicken, sausage. I think that’s it? Yeah that’s in there.
Interviewer: “And how long has the gumbo tradition been going on?”
Informant: “Uhh years…and I don’t really know but they used to live in Louisiana before they moved out here and so our grandparents made it and I’m not sure who made it before them but it’s been a long way going. I don’t know if the recipe has changed much over the year but I know they’ve been cooking it forever.”
Interviewer: “And does your grandmother intend to pass it on eventually?”
Informant: “Uh…I mean eventually. I don’t think she wants to per say because she kinda likes the idea of having something to do. Like ‘it’s my pot of gumbo and I want to make it’ and every now and then we’ll try to have her explain bits and parts of it to us and…like my mom kinda knows it but she doesn’t really like cooking that much so we’re trying to get my sister to learn it since she’s kinda like the cook of the house. Otherwise…I’m not much of a cook so…I’m just trying to remember the basics of it so in case I’m like ‘shoot I need to make a pot of gumbo’, I can figure it out.”
Interviewer: “How much do you know about how to make it?”
Informant: “Hmm I know like the basics and I know the end game, and I know the stuff that goes in. It’s more like the amounts she puts in and the stuff to make the broth that’s the tricky part. I don’t know cuz it’s still a soup so I know the meat and stuff but I don’t know what parts you need for the broth and how long to cook it and that kinda stuff yet.”
The informant’s family gathers together monthly. However, during New Years gatherings they all eat gumbo cooked by his grandmother. This gumbo is a special recipe that only she knows and hasn’t completely told to anyone else yet. It’s likely that later on, the informant’s sister will learn the recipe in order to uphold the tradition. I would like to try the gumbo myself. It sounds delicious.