Many people wrongly assume that Creole cooking is synonymous with Cajun cooking. The truth is that the origin of these styles of cooking took shape in close proximity of each other but have different roots altogether. It’s important to take a look at the ancestry that has brought both these styles to life.
The early Cajuns were originally evicted citizens of Acadia Canada (present day Nova Scotia). They settled in southern Louisiana along the Mississippi River and to areas west of New Orleans. They later moved further west into an area now known as Acadiana. The Cajuns were a hard working group but always took time to celebrate life despite the hardships they had faced. They were always ready to share a meal, a story, and “pass a good time”.
Cajun cooking has been misinterpreted as being overly spicy. While the food is well seasoned, it is definitely palatable by most. The meals are usually spiced using cayenne pepper, black pepper Most Cajun recipes call for onions, celery and bell pepper (sometimes referred to as ‘the trinity’) as well as parsley, green onions (onion tops) and garlic. A thickening agent called a roux is a commonly used ingredient in many Cajun recipes. Most recipes are more improvisations than precisely measured and are typically ‘one pot’ meals.
The Creoles were European settlers who made their homes in New Orleans and in plantations along the Mississippi River. They were mostly from Spain, Portugal and France and were known for their wealth. They were heavily involved in the early shipping, banking and farming industries. They enjoyed their wealth and they, like the Cajuns, enjoyed their food too!
Creole food takes it’s roots from French and Spanish recipes but also is influenced by Africa, Italy, Germany and West Indies styles. The slaves of the Creoles brought okra to Louisiana whose African name is ‘gumbo’. Creole food shares many of the same spices and ingredients as Cajun food but were typically served in many courses and were presented in a traditional European fashion.
So why is there so much confusion regarding the two different styles? The reason is that over time, the two styles have made a sort of cooking style gumbo out of themselves. Both the Cajuns and Creoles loved their foods and borrowed bits of each style and incorporated into their own. Indeed it is probably easier to compare the similarities between the two styles than it would be to pinpoint the differences. Both use a variety of the same seafood and wildlife, seasonings and vegetables as well as the roux base. While it may be difficult to draw the line between both Cajun cooking and Creole cooking, one thing can be said definitively of both: They’re both delicious and not to be missed if the opportunity to indulge is presented!