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Difference between Cajun  and Creole Foods

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11 replies to this topic

#1 Nola

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Posted 12 December 2001 - 06:41 AM

 What is your definition of the difference between Cajun and Creole foods?

#2 GumboYaYa

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Posted 12 December 2001 - 11:23 AM

My take on it has been that cajun foods are mainly spice, spice, spice. They throw "everything in the pot" type of deal.  Creole is more French - heavy, creamy sauces for the most part.

#3 jhlurie

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Posted 13 December 2001 - 10:08 AM

Haven't books been written about this? :)

Then again, you did ask for OUR definition of the differences, right?

In my (fairly uneducated opinion) there is definitely more to the difference than spice.  Cajun seems to come more from a tradition of home cooking, and that certainly includes the "everything in the pot" phenomenon.  Would it be accurate to make an analogy and say that Cajun food is equivalent to Soul food, while Creole is haute cuisine?  That doesn't diminish either of them.

#4 Wilfrid

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Posted 19 December 2001 - 03:19 PM

Historical answer: Cajun food is the food of the Cajun people.  The Cajuns were French famring folk who had settled in a region they called Acadie near Quebec.  Cajun is just a corruption of Acadian.  They were forcibly expelled by the British for suspected collaboration with the French during the war over Quebec in the eighteenth century.  They found themselves at sea with nowhere to go: most of them were eventually taken in by the state of Louisiana, which already had a large, Catholic, French speaking population.  They were given some pretty poor land to farm out on the bayous.  They had to redevelop their agricultural French cuisine, using rice as a staple (easier to grow in swamps than wheat) and using other local ingredients like crayfish.

Deep breath.

Creole just means something which originated in a French colony - be it a person, a langauge or a dish.  Creole food is the food of the French community in Louisiana, and their descendants.  Now, this community came straight from France, not from Quebec.  Like the Cajuns, they faced the challenge of adapting a French cuisine to local circumstances - but their cuisine was that of Paris and urban France, not a 'peasant cuisine'.  All of which is consistent with jhlurie's observation that Creole owes more to haute cuisine, while Cajun is more home-style.  This was all a long time ago, and the two cuisines have come to intermingle on menus.  Even more importantly, the cuisines have been subject to outside influences, most distinctively that of African cooking on Cajun dishes.  The use of okra, and I believe the term 'gumbo', for example, came from the poor African slaves or former slaves who lived alongside the Cajuns in rural Louisiana.

#5 Bolivar Petit Corona

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Posted 21 December 2001 - 11:07 AM

Quote: from GumboYaYa on 2:23 pm on Dec. 12, 2001
My take on it has been that cajun foods are mainly spice, spice, spice. They throw "everything in the pot" type of deal.

Coonass say: "it git caught, it git et."

#6 Peter B Wolf

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Posted 15 January 2002 - 06:45 PM

Wilfrid, just found this about Cajuns (Acadians)


#7 jeromy

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Posted 21 June 2002 - 12:14 PM

Cajun/Creole are unique cooking styles developed from influences of local ethnic groups in La. Cajuns came from Souther France in early 1600's. Creoles were local population of New Orleans, a melting pot of Indian, Spanish, French and African. Many current La. foods are blends of subject two styles, i.e. gumbo, roux and use of okra and tomatoes. Cajun cooking is unique to andouille sausage, red beans/rice. Creole cooking includes etoufee, jambalaya, pralines. Source: Dallas Morning News Food Section few years back and Confident Cooking book-"Step by Step Cajun cooking available at many Half-Price Book Stores. :rolleyes:

#8 Toby

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Posted 21 June 2002 - 01:08 PM

There's a wonderful book in the old Time-Life series called Creole and Acadian, very informative, charming and evocative text written by Peter Feibleman. And the recipes still work.

#9 rich

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Posted 21 June 2002 - 01:12 PM

I think one was Justin Wilson, the other Paul Prudhomme (sp?). But I don't know which one was which. (Nor do I want to!!!)
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#10 frankj

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Posted 23 June 2002 - 10:44 AM

While I can't add much to the above discussion, I still want to elaborate.

Whatever food you are thinking of, it's almost certainly Cajun. Gumbo, etoufee, red beans and rice, etc. Both Justin Wilson and Paul Prudhomme are basically Cajun.

Cajun was the downstairs food, characterized by "variety" meats and spices and stews. Creole is the upstairs food that is basically French. I think of "Redfish Ponchartrain" as a classic Creole dish -- basically traditional French use of local ingredients. But of course the downstairs affects the upstairs. And I think what can make Creole good is the influences it has drawn from Cajun cooking.

#11 Toby

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Posted 23 June 2002 - 04:39 PM

I think Cajun food can then be divided into bayou food (using seafood) and "prairie"-type Cajun food, grown in parts of Louisiana more suitable for farming and raising livestock. In Paul Prudhomme's Family Cookbook, he focuses more on the dishes made with meats, game, freshwater fish and garden vegetables, but the methods and seasonings are the same.

In the end, of course, a cuisine can be subdivided enough so it can end up being indigenous to single households. I had a friend who was adamant about not using green bell peppers in gumbos, etoufees. It turned out that his mother didn't grow them in her garden so they never had them.

Les Blank's Louisiana films are delightful and have lots of food and cooking (mostly Cajun) in them -- Always for Pleasure and (I think) Let the Good Times Roll.

#12 TommyBB

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Posted 12 July 2002 - 11:31 AM

Jeromy's answer is pretty close. Remember that there were Creole Blacks, and Free people of Color in New Orleans. Many blacks cooked for the Creole French, so gumbo, etoufee and other things are a fusion of French and black cooking. The same goes for Beans and Rice, gumbo z'Herbes.

Cajun is country food, anything in the pot.

Coonass say: "it git caught, it git et."

A Cajun will eat anything that doesn't eat him first--Alligator, Crawfish, Rabbit, Duck, Pork, Chicken, Beef, whatever is out there. It is spicy, but that doesn't define it. The two most famous dishes cooked by Cajuns are
Sauce Piquante & Courtbouillion with whatever ingredients are at hand. Now gumbo and etoufee made their way out there too due to the influence of slaves who cooked on the plantations.