Jambalaya posted for Donald Tucker

Jambalaya: “The word is said to be a compound word of Jambon from the French meaning ham, and Aya meaning rice in Africa, as there were many slaves in the Louisiana at the time. Common belief is that it originated from the Spanish Paella, which has also transformed in the United States to a dish called Spanish rice.” (Kitchen Project)  Although the exact origins of the dish are not known for sure, the most commonly held belief is that it was the result of a variety of ethnicities mixing in the port of New Orleans.  Stanley Dry noted that the earliest known recipes were found in two cookbooks from the city published in 1885. Unfortunately it was not common for cooks to add a place and date to recipes during this era, so it is impossible to know if any pre-dated these recipes. (Veetee Blog UK)

New Orleans is famous for many different one-pot meals such as etouffee and gumbo; and jambalaya is one of the main ones that come to mine.  It is primarily a rice dish with a variety of smoked meats, (ham, chicken, sausage and seafood) seasonings and spices usually to the liking of the one preparing the dish.  Some versions of the recipe for jambalaya have even used boar, turkey, venison, oysters, duck and alligator.  It was created by those living in the Creole and Cajun regions of Louisiana with a variety of versions based on the region.  The region also played a part in the color of the jambalaya where the Creoles made it with a red hue and Cajuns would have a brown-earthy color. There can be as many versions of Jambalaya as there are cooks that prepare it.  Jambalaya like gumbo came about through necessity of having something to eat.  Whatever ingredient was readily available for a meal it was thrown in the pot and became jambalaya in this instance?  Many living in the lower bayou areas used game from those waters.

To get simple idea of what it takes to make the basic recipe for jambalaya it starts with a cast-iron pot, the tool of choice for most cooks preparing this dish.  “We don’t know when cast-iron was first used, but it has held a revered place in household kitchens for centuries” especially for a one-pot meal like jambalaya. (Hobby Farms Johnson)   The “trinity” stock was prepared which are celery, onion and bell pepper.  The choice of meat for the jambalaya is prepared and lastly the rice is added.

Jambalaya today is still a favorite in the state of Louisiana and a big part of family and social gatherings.  There are annual contests, cook-offs and a festival in many parts of Louisiana celebrating this dish.  The festival is held in the city of Gonzales, which was proclaimed as the “Jambalaya capital of the world” by the governor of the state in 1968.  This cheap, filling and delicious dish called Jambalaya is a unique and uniting dish that is likely to be enjoyed by generations to come. (Veetee)

In my house jambalaya is a happy dish, a dish that is not on the table every week like chicken and mashed potatoes.  Jambalaya is a dish that is rarely made, maybe 3 or 4 times per year if that.  I like preparing it for house parties.  If you told folks you were preparing jambalaya or gumbo you can guarantee that they would show up for the party.  So with all that said I hope that after tasting jambalaya it will make its way into your homes and kitchen tables. Enjoy!

Cookbook Index


These are the cookbook entries / final project of the IDS 336 Food and Culture class for Fall 2016 at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Stuffed Deviled Eggs


Big Mama’s Hot Water Corn Bread

Spam Musubi

Vegan Dirty Rice

Avgolemono Soup


Sopa Verde

Gnocci with Grandma’s Sauce

French Toast

Gumbo 1

Gumbo 2

Guatemalan Tamales 

Butter Chicken

Molé Mexicano

Chicken Mole

Lobster Street Tacos

Tacos Dorados de Papa


Fried Chicken


Cajun Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Tostadas 1

Tostadas 2

Cuban Christmas Feast

Zuppa Toscana

Pasta with My Grandmother’s Sauce


Christmas Shoofly Pie

Milk Gelatins

Arroz Con Leche

Homemade Apple Sauce


Gumbo, a stew or soup usually made with chicken or seafood, with a thick gravy often called roux (pronounced roo).  This stew gets its name from the Bantu language okra (ki kombo) or the Choctaw word for file (kombo).  This is just one version of how gumbo came about.

Gumbo is a food eaten in many parts of the United States, more so in the south.  Gumbo is a food that people of poor background created.  Many years ago a woman once told me that gumbo has been around for a very long time and was actually made of the food in the area that they could find.  On the contrary folks now a days swear that gumbo is very expensive to make, however, I believe if that is what you like you make it, you eat it and you enjoy it.  Yes, gumbo can be very costly, but in Louisiana way back then the seafood was nearby and plentiful, therefore, it was a poor man’s paradise.

In Louisiana folks eat gumbo on special occasions such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays.  Gumbo is fun to eat and is always a conversational gathering.  Gumbo makes conversation, jokes and of course happy faces.

In the state of Louisiana gumbo is well known and eaten often all over these parts.  Although folks all over the United States consume this delicious food it is highly recognized in the southern parts of the United States mainly Louisiana.   Gumbo has been around for a very long time “Dr. Carl A. Brasseaux, of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, who has written the definitive history of the Cajuns, found that the first documented references appeared around the turn of the 19th century.” (Dry)  Gumbo has been around so long it is to Louisiana as apple pie is to the United States.

A major question is “Where did gumbo come from?”  Well as you know several people will tell you several different things, however, gumbo is a dish that was actually influenced by the French and Spanish settlers, African slaves who gave it the name from the Bantu, gombo for okra, and the Native Americans that lived in the bayous of Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta.

Gumbo usually comes from and is known by two groups of people, one being Cajun folks that are considered to be Acadians from Canada, and the other being Creoles.  The name Creoles meaning a mixture of people, for example, French and Spanish, French and Native Americans or French and Black Americans.

When there are a variety of people in the melting pot you also have variations of ways to prepare gumbo in the melting pot as well.

Gumbo is a dish that is prepared and eaten in many parts of the United States.  Gumbo is eaten often in southern states and more so in Louisiana.  However on the contrary in other parts of the country gumbo is usually eaten on holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and special occasions.

When it comes to gumbo there are several types, however, chicken and sausage, and seafood are the most popular.  With these two gumbos being the most popular this is where the Cajun and the Creole styles come in.  You will definitely get a disagreement on what make a gumbo.  If you find yourself in New Orleans, which is a Creole, not a Cajun, town, you’ll find some cross mixture of elements.  Suffice it to say that Cajun gumbos are usually thicker, spicier, and hotter.  Creoles like to think of their gumbos as more refined.” (Burns)

This dish has lots of history; it has been eaten for roughly 200 years, maybe in 200 different ways.  Gumbo is made from the immediate wildlife that was readily available, such as seafood, wild animals and fresh vegetables.  “By the time the Louisiana Territory was purchased from the French in 1803, international trade and forces had converged in the region, and many hands were stirring the gumbo pots.  Creole cooks nursed the dish, and French Acadian (Cajun) influences provided the roux, a classic touch for thickening gravy and sauces.  Hot peppers from the Caribbean and later from New Iberia, Louisiana added heat to the dish.” (Berry)

“|Another local ingredient, dried sassafras leaves, now referred to as gumbo filé, was borrowed from Native Americans and used as a thickener replacing okra.” (Berry)  Here in both Cajun and Creole cooking okra and file (just ground sassafras leaves) is considered to be a main ingredient in gumbo.  “In this neck of the woods if you don’t use both okra and filé in gumbo, people don’t like.” (White)  So with all that being said, “Let’s make some gumbo!”  The following are two recipes one is from a magazine titled Southern Living the other being my very own.


Southern Living

Makes 4 to 6 servings



1-pound Andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

4 skinned bone-in chicken breasts

Vegetable oil

3/4-cup all-purpose flour

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

2 celery ribs, sliced

2 quarts hot water

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce

4 green onions, sliced

Filé powder (optional)

Hot cooked rice

Garnish: chopped green onions


Prep: 55 Minutes

Cook: 3 Hours

Cook sausage in a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until browned. Drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in Dutch oven. Set sausage aside.  Cook chicken in reserved drippings in Dutch oven over medium heat 5 minutes or until browned. Remove to paper towels, reserving drippings in Dutch oven. Set chicken aside.

Add enough oil to drippings in Dutch oven to measure 1/2 cup. Add flour, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 20 to 25 minutes, or until roux is chocolate colored.

Stir in onion, bell pepper, and celery; cook, stirring often, 8 minutes or until tender. Gradually add 2 quarts hot water, and bring mixture to a boil; add chicken, garlic, and next 5 ingredients. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Remove chicken; let cool.

Add sausage to gumbo; cook 30 minutes. Stir in green onions; cook for 30 more minutes.

Bone chicken, and cut meat into strips; return chicken to gumbo, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves.

Remove gumbo from heat. Sprinkle with filé powder, if desired. Serve over hot cooked rice. Garnish, if desired.

Now my own gumbo really doesn’t have a recipe, I just start throwing things in and create it as I go.  You must keep in mind though that gumbo is to be cooked with lots of love, however, I will do my best to make you a good recipe.  Just don’t forget to prepare this dish with love from the heart.

My Own Gumbo


3-pounds shrimp (medium)

2-3-pounds crab legs (separated at shoulders)

2-pounds Andouille sausage cut ¼ inch thick

1-cup vegetable oil

1¼-cup all-purpose flour

2 finely chopped onions

1 whole onion

6 celery stalks finely chopped

2 bell peppers finely chopped

1 bell pepper for stock

4 cloves of garlic finely chopped or slice

2 teaspoons of filé

2 teaspoons of paprika

Salt and black or white pepper to taste

1½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

10-cups water




Shell and devein shrimp, keep shells for stock.  Put shrimp shells, 1 cut onion and 1 cut bell pepper in 6-cups of water and boil for approximately 10 minutes.  After boiling is complete drain keeping the stock.  While preparing stock you fry the chicken, (no need to salt or flour the chicken) just fry to golden or dark brown.  Fry sausage.  Set stock, fried chicken and sausage aside.  In 10-12 inch skillet (preferably cast iron) heat vegetable oil at medium high then add flour with wooden spoon stir (remembering this is a timely process) constantly stirring avoiding burning flour.  Once you have reached a medium to dark color you can start adding the stock in small batches at a time, stirring constantly (still drinking beer) what the heck pour some beer in with the stock.  Once you have reached the desired color for your roux approximately 30-45 minutes total time you can transfer all ingredients (excluding the shrimp) into the 10-quart pot.  Bring to a boil and simmer low for 1½ – 2 hours, skimming the fat as it may occur.  Now keep in mind this is a southern mixture “and we don’t use no recipe.”  While cooking gradually add remaining stock and water to your liking.  Once you are satisfied with your gumbo you put in the shrimp and cook/simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.  Now your creation is complete.  Serve over white rice.  You may garnish with fresh chives. Some like corn bread, however, I prefer saltines.  Note: once you have tasted your gumbo take some filé and sprinkle over lightly and experience the difference.





Works Cited

Berry, Jason. “Urban Gumbo.” New York Times Book Review 113.7 (2008): 23.  Readers’

            Guide Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 29 Nov. 2016.


Bhabha, Leah. “The History of Gumbo”. Food52 4 Apr 2014. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.



Brassieur, C. Ray. “Mardi Gras, Gumbo, An Zydeco: Readings In Louisiana Culture.” Louisiana

History 46.1 (2005): 97-99. America: History & Life. Web. 29 Nov. 2016


Burns, K. “Food For Culture.” Essence (Essence) 22.11 (1992): 50. Academic Search Premier.

            Web. 29 Nov. 2016.


Dry, Stanley, “Roux The Day.” Louisiana Life 30.1 (2010): 22-24. Readers’ Guide Full Text        

            Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 29 Nov. 2016.


Hearne, Betsy. “The Secret Of Gumbo Grove (Book review).” Bulletin Of The Center For

            Children’s Books 40. (1987): 199. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 29

Nov. 2016.


Mariani, John, and Gail Bellamy. “Gumbo.” Restaurant Hospitality 82.9 (1998): 80. Business

            Source Premier. Web. 29 Nov. 2016


Moss, Robert. “The Real Story of Gumbo, Okra, and Filé.” Serious Eats Sep 2014. Web. 11 Dec.

  1. http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/09/history-new-orleans-gumbo-okra-file- powder.html


McCulla, Theresa. “Fava Beans and Bahn Mi: Ethnic Revival and The New New Orleans   Gumbo.” Quaderni Storici 151.1 (2016). 71-102. America: History & Life.  Web. 29 Nov. 2016.


Southern Living. My Recipes. Web. 10 Dec. 2016. http://www.myrecipes.com/m/recipe/chicken-   and-sausage-gumbo-0


Welsch, Roger L. “Food Chain.” Natural History v104 p62 Aug 1995. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.


White, Joyce. “A Bowl of Black History: Gumbo, Part I.” New York Amsterdam News 27 Jan.

2005:24+. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.


Wright, Jodi. “Cajun Flush”. Indianapolis Monthly 26 no 1 298, 300-1 S 2002. Web. 5 Dec.                      2016.  http://www.indianapolismonthly.com/

Dr. Perez: Cupcakes and Tamales

Birthday Cupcake from Heirloom Bakery

Birthday Cupcake from Heirloom Bakery

I’m Dr. Perez, an instructor at CSUDH. My majors were in English for my BA, MA and PhDs. I finished my PhD in 2011 at USC.

My food selfie is one I took of my birthday cupcake from Heirloom Bakery in South Pasadena. It’s a homemade (well, cafe-made), grown-up version of a Hostess Cupcake. It was excellent.

My favorite food, at least for today and coming out of our Día de Los Muertos celebration are tamales. I seriously love tamales and not only because they are delicious (which they are) but because of their indigenous roots in the Americas and their associations for me with home, family and the Christmas holidays. Unwrapping a tamale, hot from the steamer and almost burning my fingers is a joy. I like all kinds of tamales, sweet and savory, wrapped in corn or banana leaves, meat or vegetarian. That said, when faced with a variety of tamale choices, my first pick is almost always red pork. There’s something about the sweetness of the corn, the meatiness of the pork and the spiciness of the red chile that makes my mouth water.

This is the first time I’ve taught this class and am looking forward to getting to know all of you.

Welcome to the IDS 330 Blog

Welcome to our IDS 330: Food and Culture blog. This is where our more formal public writing for the course will occur. You should have received an invitation to join the blog. This invitation was sent to your Toro Mail address.

As soon as possible, but by no later than midnight on Friday, November 11, follow the instructions on the posting on WordPress video (see Blackboard for video link). Your post should include your name (can be your first name only or a nickname, for privacy) something you want to be known by in the class, your major, when you plan to graduate, an image of one of your food selfies (you can have used it in Slack) and a rich, detailed description of a favorite food.

Be friendly. Respond to other people’s intros and enjoy getting to know each other.

I’ve posted my intro here to be a sample.