File is a staple in the pantry of Southern kitchens where it origited in the 18th century as a thickener for stews and specifically gumbos. Dried sassafras leaves are ground to a dense powder and added at the very end of cooking when the pot has been removed from the heat.


File is the star in most gumbos, but can also be used to season shrimp, scallops or other seafood and rice.