Is it Cajun or Creole?
|January 25, 2014||Filled under Recipes|
If you’re familiar with Louisiana history and culture, then all you really need to know is that Creole cuisine uses tomatoes, and proper Cajun food does not. That’s how you tell a Cajun versus Creole gumbo or jambalaya. However, if you’d like to go a bit deeper, please continue reading so that you can learn why the terms Cajun and Creole that are used interchangeably when describing Louisiana food, are not at all the same.
First things first –
- CREOLE refers to the original European — particularly French and Spanish — settlers of New Orleans. They were mostly from wealthy families and brought or sent for chefs from Madrid, Paris, and other European capitals.
- CAJUN Country is the southwest section of Louisiana, unique unto itself. Acadiana is an area comprising twenty-two parishes (counties) in Southwest Louisiana. This area is predominately populated by Cajun people who are, technically, descendents of the Acadians expelled from Acadia, now known as Nova Scotia, in 1755. While their new home in Acadiana was familiar in terms of being an agrarian setting already populated by Catholic, French-speaking people, the Cajuns had to adjust to the unknown terrain of swamps, bayous, and prairies that presented some exotic forms of meat, game, fish, produce, and grains.
A simple way describe the two cuisines is to deem Creole cuisine “city food” and Cajun cuisine “country food.” While many of the ingredients in Cajun and Creole dishes are similar, the real difference between the two styles is the people behind these famous cuisines. For example, Creole roux is made from butter and flour (as in France), while Cajun roux is made from lard or oil and flour. This is partly due to the scarcity of dairy products in some areas of Acadiana (Acadia + Louisiana) when Cajun cuisine was being developed. Gumbo is perhaps the signature dish of both cuisines. Creole gumbo has a tomato base and is more of a soup, while Cajun gumbo has a roux base and is more of a stew.
It is said that a Creole feeds one family with three chickens and a Cajun feeds three families with one chicken.
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