About Cajun and Creole Food & Culture

Cajun cuisine is named for the French-speaking Acadian people deported by the British from Acadia in Canada to the Acadiana region of Louisiana, USA. It is what could be called a rustic cuisine; locally available ingredients predominate and preparation is simple. An authentic Cajun meal is usually a three-pot affair, with one pot dedicated to the main dish, one dedicated to steamed rice, special made sausages, or some seafood dish, and the third containing whatever vegetable is plentiful or available. Shrimp and pork sausage are staple meats used in a variety of dishes.

The aromatic vegetables bell pepper, onion and celery are called “the holy trinity” by Cajun chefs, and with the addition of garlic “holy trinity and the pope” in Cajun and Creole cuisines. Roughly diced and combined in cooking, the method is similar to the use of the mirepoix in traditional French cuisine which blends roughly diced onion, celery and carrot. Characteristic aromatics for the Creole version may also include parsley, bay leaf, green onions, dried cayenne pepper and dried black pepper.

Around 1755, Acadians were forced out of their settlements by the British, and as a result, they migrated in 1755 in what was called “le Grand Dérangement”, eventually settling in Southern Louisiana.  Due to the extreme change in climate, Acadians were unable cook their original dishes.  Soon, their former culinary traditions were lost, and new meals developed to become what is now considered classic Cajun cuisine traditions (not to be confused with the more modern concept associated with Paul Prudhomme's contributions to the style).

Until the 20th century, Cajun meals were rather basic.  The public's false perception of "Cajun" cuisine is based on chef Prudhomme's take on Cajun cooking, which was spicy, flavorful, and not true to the classic form of the cuisine.  The Cajun and Creole monikers have been mistaken as being interchangeable but the origins of Creole cooking began in New Orleans, while Cajun cooking originated 40 years later, down south on the bayou.