Gumbo, Jambalaya, Etouffee: What's the Difference?


New Orleans cuisine: boy, it may give birth to a richly-colored heritage, but unless you’re from around there, it sure can be botching. Not only is it hard to keep track of which dishes are Cajun and which ones are Creole, but those rice dishes can be melodic tough to keep straight! So gumbo, jambalaya, étouffée: what’s the distinction, anyway?

Think of jambalaya as a distant relative of ella. It’s got protein and vegetables (again tomatoes, sometimes not), with rice and stock later simmered together or fused before serving. In contrast, gumbo — a mix of vegetables and meat or shellfish with thickened supply — is thinner and served as a soup alongside rice that’s cooked independently.

Different from gumbo (which is considered a soup), étouffée’s a prime course, made of one type of shellfish (crawfish or shrimp, for instance) that’s been masked in a thick sauce and sometimes served ladled over rice. Don’t disorder any of these, of course, with the city’s historic Monday favorite: red beans and rice. Got all that?

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