A key component in Cajun & Creole cooking, ground sassafras leaf (also known as filé powder or gumbo filé, though that sometimes includes some ground thyme) is used both as an herb and a thickener. Its flavor is herbaceous, earthy, spicy, and a little sweet.
The use of the dried & ground leaves of the North American sassafras (sassafras albidum) in food goes back hundreds of years. Its use in the Cajun & Creole recipes it is associated with today probably was picked up from Native American cultures (most notably the Choctaw) who were using it prior to European colonization.
The most well-known sassafras/file powder dishes are gumbo & jambalaya.