FANWOOD, NJ -- A zesty, stew-like dish is celebrated on National Gumbo Day, observed annually on October 12.

According to NationalCalendar.com, gumbo originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. The dish typically consists of a stock flavored with Cajun spices, meat or shellfish, okra, filé powder (a thickener), and the "holy trinity" of Cajun cuisine: celery, onions, and bell peppers.

Commonly served over rice, the name gumbo is believed to be derived either from the West African word for okra (ki ngombo) or from the Choctaw word for filé (kombo). Gumbo is the official cuisine of the state of Louisiana.

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Paul Watterson, chef at The Fanwood Grille, says that gumbo is one of the most popular items on his menu. 

"Our gumbo includes Cajun andouille sausage, which has a little kick to it," Watterson said. "It's spicy enough to be authentic, but suitable to please most people's tastes, and we serve it over rice. There aren't a lot of places nearby that make gumbo, so we get a lot of catering orders for it."

In honor of National Gumbo Day, The Fanwood Grille (34 South Martine Ave., Fanwood), will serve the dish for $1 off its regular price and offer samples to customers willing to give it a try for the first time. 

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Editor's Note; TAPintoSPF publisher John Mooney is owner of The Fanwood Grille.