Gumbo is a spicy, hearty stew or soup, found typically on the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, and is very common in Louisiana, Southeast Texas, southern Mississippi and the Lowcountry around Charleston, South Carolina, and down past Brunswick, Georgia. It is eaten year round, but is usually found during the colder months. This is due to the extended cooking time required, as a large pot full of simmering liquid will lose heat to the surrounding area.
The dish named gumbo usually consists of two components, rice and broth, and is usually made in large batches. Left-over broth is frozen for later use. Rice is made fresh daily. The rice is prepared separately from the broth, and the two are mixed only in the serving bowl.
The gumbo broth can contain seafood (typically crab and shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico or crawfish), fowl (usually duck, quail, chicken), and other meats, used as seasoning; tasso (Cajun smoked pork), Cajun-style andouille (smoked sausage), and other smoked or preserved meats. A traditional lenten variety called gumbo z'herbes (from the French gumbo aux herbes), essentially a gumbo of smothered greens thickened with roux, also exists. The one essential ingredient of the dish is okra, as the name gumbo is derived from a West African word for okra.