Boy it’s been a while …
Being from Acadiana (St. Martinville, to be exact) I have had my share of gumbo. Every few miles you move north, south, east or west you get a different version.
I grew up on gumbo that had a soup consistency (My grandmothers’ and my mom’s). My wife, from Mamou, grew up on gumbo that was almost stew-like. I’ve eaten gumbo so thin (especially the seafood kind) that you needed the rice just to keep it on the spoon. I’ve also eaten gumbo so thick that a spoon literally stood up in it.
Besides the thickness, you have your choice of thickeners (roux, okra for file’). And even with each of these you have a choice of combinations.
The one thing that I feel kept traditional gumbo similar was the use of simple (ie cheap!) ingrediants and the ability to stretch a meal further than it was meant to be.
Gumbo is unique.