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your “nothing better than the real thing” (The Food Issue, 10/27) piece was interesting to us as occasional visitors to D.C. Photos were good and useful as well. However, you need to recheck your palate when it comes to gumbo. Traditional gumbo was never, never, never thick. The soup as a flavor addition to a big dollop of rice is the classic recipe. The rice is there as an extender and can act as a sop for the relatively thin soup base. If you want thick, the classic recipe is rice and gravy with miscellaneous vegetables and any meat you can think of or catch in it: chicken, seafood, beef, deer, alligator, fresh or smoked pork, or even bologna as we sometimes had to do in the St. Josephs Diner (soup kitchen) for the homeless in Lafayette, La. The big debate on gumbo among purists is okra or no okra. Among those who live on this poor man’s dish, the cooks do or do not add it and sometimes do both depending on the season—as the Africans who gave us this dish probably did.

Victoria, Texas