Essential New Orleans Ingredients

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You can't talk New Orleans food without talking gumbo, and you can't talk gumbo without okra, which, while certainly not always included in the stew, is probably it's namesake: okra is called gombo in many West African languages, and it came to the city along with African slaves in the 18th century. While many people shun it now for being slimy, it's a great thickening agent—and flavorful vegetable in its own right—that makes gumbo rich and hearty (although some versions use roux or filé powder instead).