When we think of gumbo, the hearty stew of seasoned vegetables and seafood or meat, we immediately think of Southern cooking. For this, we can thank its older West African roots that blended with Native American and European traditions to create a culinary classic.

Traditional recipes call for okra, a vegetable that thickens things nicely, but you may have also heard of gumbo filay. This Choctaw spice made from dried sassafras root also thickens the stew and was most likely used when okra was out of season. And if all else fails you can leave the cooking to an expert!

On National Gumbo Day, celebrate this stew that is a true melting pot of traditions.

Today we also celebrate: National Farmer’s Day, National Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work/School Day, National Curves Day, National Freethought Day, National Savings Day, National Emergency Nurse’s Day, National Stop Bullying Day, National Fossil Day, National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day, and National Vermont Day.