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Can Texas lay any claim on gumbo?

shrimp and oyster gumbo1.jpg
Gumbo crabs help flavor a classic New Orleans shrimp and oyster gumbo. (Andrew Boyd, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune)
By Brett Anderson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
on February 03, 2014 at 9:25 AM, updated February 03, 2014 at 2:25 PM

“Think gumbo and you think Louisiana, and rightfully so,” begins a short piece by Courtney Bond in the new issue of Texas Monthly. “But anyone who lives along the Gulf Coast knows that borders down there are as murky as that mucilaginous mother of all stews.”

Bond draws a bead on a perfectly valid point. There is plenty of overlap where it comes to the food of south Louisiana and southeast Texas. Bond writes, “The First Texas Cookbook, published in 1883, offers, among instructions for ‘codfish balls’ and ‘pickled brains,’ no fewer than seven gumbo recipes.”

Anyone who has eaten around Houston – or even just eaten the “Texas Creole” food at Brennan’s of Houston, which is owned by the Commander’s Palace folks – can testify to the influence of the nearby Gulf coast. And the seafood gumbo recipe Bond includes, from the seasoned Texas chef Lou Lambert, isn't hugely different from the shrimp and oyster gumbo Judy Walker demonstrates here.

I’ve eaten credible gumbo as far north as Baltimore and San Francisco. And I frankly enjoy Houston, not least because I can taste a sense of place in its food. I still struggle to get excited over eating food I associate with Louisiana when I’m not in Louisiana, and I know I’m not alone.