Bernie's Gumbo
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Gumbo is a creole dish that was the staple of many Louisiana homes when my grandmother Bernadette was a child. The most important ingredient of gumbo is the roux -- a bad roux makes bad gumbo. Bernie was a master at making the perfect roux, and her gumbo was mouth watering good. One day years ago I was visiting Bernie in New York and decided I wanted to learn how to make gumbo. She agreed to teach me, so I got all the ingredients then pulled out the measuring cups and spoons. Well, I could've saved myself the trouble of getting out the utensils -- Bernie did everything by touch and feel. Add "some" of this and "a pinch" of that. It was quite a comedy trying to equate her "somes" and "pinches" to cups and teaspoons. But before the night was over, the delicious smells of Bernie's gumbo filled the house. Chicken, shrimp, crabs, oysters -- you name it, it was in there. Bernie's gone now, but whenever I make gumbo, it's as if she's still here. And the recipe is still unwritten.

Update: Several people have written me over the years asking me for the recipe. Believe it or not, I have never written it down and to this day, cook it exactly the way my grandmother did (in other words, there is no recipe so please don't ask).

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