CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — Gumbo book keeps us real for authentic tastes

Published 9:45 am Monday, July 31, 2023

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Gumbo is one of our favorite foods, and Jim LaBove has a new book about it.

No matter how much you already know, you’re sure to learn something new from the man who grew up harvesting seafood out of Sabine Pass waters with his dad.

Cotton’s Seafood fed the area. LaBove’s many books and drawings, which often pop up at farmers markets and craft booths, share his “Cajunisms.”

Look for talkative Jim and his ever-smiling and friendly wife, Dodie. You’ll leave as friends.

His latest release is “The (Real) Gumbo Book,” offering “A Deep Dive into the Lifeblood of Cajun Culture.”

If you’re lucky enough to have met LaBove, you know that his writing is just like having a conversation with him.

Drawings of local ducks, boats, musicians, kitchen tools and even the plant that gives us file help complete the feeling of being down on the bayou.

I always say everybody should think their own grandma’s gumbo is the best.

There’s room for plenty of good recipes, though. I’d love to try all the different duck and seafood ones discussed in this book.

Just follow the recipes.

Here’s what LaBove says: “Gumbo is an evolving dish that seems to be in a constant state of evolution. Her opinion aside, my Mama would be the first to tell you to make gumbo the way you like it and make the final recipe your own.”

In “The (Real) Gumbo Book,” Get the basics on the components of what makes various types of gumbo sing:

  • Roux? Basic and important.
  • Eggs? Sometimes.
  • Sausage? If you like.
  • Holy Trinity? We need that.
  • File? A thing unto itself.


  • Okra and the Cajun Diaspora is a chapter title that makes our bowl of gumbo seem legendary.
  • Learn about dried shrimp and water gumbo
  • The glossary includes words such aslapin, La PAN, Cajun French for Rabbit and poisson rouge, as in redfish.

Flagship Mailroom and Emporium features part of LaBove’s oeuvre. You can shop online at

Now as for me, I gotta go get some gumbo.

Darragh Doiron is a Southeast Texas foodie already awaiting the next crawfish season. Email her at