and Creole food is the product of southern Louisiana, a State situated in
the south of The United states of America. It has a sub tropical climate
with marshes and fertile delta lands as well as prairie and gentle rolling
hills. A large area of Louisiana is covered by water, made up of rivers,
including the Mississippi and Red Rivers and lakes as well as the many slow
moving bayous along costal areas which accounts for the popularity of fish,
seafood and other “water animals” in this cuisine.
Southern Louisiana's population is made up of the
original Native Indians, as well as the descendants of the many peoples who
settled here including French, Spanish, English, German, Acadians, West
Indians and Africans, all of whom have contributed to create the cuisine.
So, what’s the difference between
Creole and Cajun cooking? Many people who don’t live in Louisiana would say
“very little” however this isn’t a view held by many Southern Louisianans.
Some would say that Creole cooking is city food: a more refined
type of cuisine reflecting its close ties to the European aristocracy who
settled here (with their chefs) and that Cajun cuisine is country cooking,
illustrated by its many traditional one pot meals made up of whatever was to
hand by the people who originally settled in the more rural parts of the
However, the two cuisines have melded over the years and many
traditional dishes and ingredients are now shared between the two. Gumbo and
Jambalaya are two such examples, both of which are eaten and cooked by
Creoles and Cajuns alike.
Ancient times, influences and
history of Cajun and Creole cooking
Creole cuisine began with the European
settlers, many of whom were French, who arrived in New Orleans in the
1690’s. They were mostly aristocrats, often second sons, who took the
opportunity to further their fortunes in the New World as it was doubtful
that they would inherit land or titles in their native countries. These were
the founders of today’s Creole cuisine.
They took with them their European traditions
including their cuisine and the influences of classic European cooking are
still evident in many dishes. The French dish Bouillabaisse is said to be
the forebear of Gumbo, the Spanish dish Paella the predecessor of Jambalaya
and the use of charcuterie and sausages is attributed to the Germans.
The Native Indians soon introduced the settlers to new locally grown produce
such as corn, ground sassafras leaves (or file powder) and bay leaves and
the all important tomato was introduced from Central/South America.
The Creoles enjoyed a relatively affluent and elegant lifestyle, part of
which included having plenty of servants and workers. With the import of
African slaves, a further ingredient of Creole cuisine was added. The
Africans brought with them Okra seeds, the African name for which is Gumbo
which gave its name to the well known soup.
As many of these people worked in the
kitchens, their own cooking traditions crept into the cuisine. Also, with
the government of Louisiana switching from Spanish to French, these cooks
soon learnt the basics of both cuisines, but after a time the total
unification of European, African and Native Indian cooking occurred.
In contrast, the Cajuns were a much tougher
people, more used to arduous conditions. Originally called Acadians, Cajuns
were in effect refugees from the Acadia region in Canada. Mostly of French
peasant stock, they were forced to leave Nova Scotia in the 1700’s when
tensions grew between the French and the British in that region. Although
many originally landed in New Orleans, the Spanish rulers did not welcome
them to the city and promptly re-settled them to the more rural parts of