[Sca-cooks] OT - Gumbo file powder

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Sat Sep 8 14:14:18 PDT 2007

Filet refers to the powdered sassafras leaf and nothing else.  You may have 
a filet blend containing other herbs and spices, but it is the sassafras 
that makes it filet.  The word "filet" derives from the verb "filer" meaning 
to spin thread and is descriptive of the action of sassafras powder in hot 

Tyree, Marion Cabell, ed., Housekeeping in Old Virginia; Morton & Co., 
Louisville, KY, 1879.,  has a recipe for Gumbo Filit a la Creole.  The 
footnote to that recipe says, "N.B.  Filit is only pulverized sassafras 
leaves, dried and sifted; you can make it yourself.--Mrs. S., La."


> I've just had a good rousing argument with my husband. I maintain that 
> Gumbo
> file powder contains sassafras and (occasionally) thyme - he maintains 
> that
> "in the past, maybe not now" it had other herbs and spices in it as a 
> matter
> of course (we're talking what you buy in the jar, not what you make at
> home...
> So in the interest of domestic tranquillity, could anyone who has
> familiarity with file powder tell me what theirs has in it?
> I know it's OT - please respond to online2much at cox.net .
> Thanks,
> Hrothny

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