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Cajan and Creole: Both are Yummy!

Wow, so much flavor…

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There were many things that fascinated me about New Orleans when we moved there in 1985. Coming there from Wyoming — with a stop in Texas — and I had a lot to learn about the “city that care forgot.” One of the biggies was that not all New Orleans food was the differences between the various cuisines. I also had to learn that “spicy” didn’t necessarily mean “hot.” In New Orleans, it means filled with flavor. Truly awesome flavor. Wow, so much flavor…

Sorry. But I did love that flavor. Okay…

In New Orleans, you’ll find both Creole and Cajun restaurants. A simple definition of the difference between the two is Creole cuisine is city food and Cajun cuisine is country food. You’ll notice Creole cuisine uses tomatoes and Cajun doesn’t. That’s because it’s hard to find tomatoes in the swamp.

Creole cooks had more access to exotic ingredients and a wider mix of cultures contributed to the cuisine. That’s why Creole rouxs are made with butter and flour while Cajun rouxs are made with oil and flour. 

You’ve probably heard of Boudin, which is a Cajun sausage of pork, rice, and seasoning along with pig liver for extra flavor that’s then stuffed into a casing. Seasoning is key in Cajun cooking—cayenne pepper and garlic are popular as well as onion, celery, and bell pepper. Paprika, thyme, file (ground sassafras leaves), parsley, and green onions are also typical ingredients.

So, Cajun and Creole cuisine are similar, but the variance in taste, preparation, and ingredients has to do with the people who cook them.


cajun jambalaya

Spicy Homemade Cajun Jambalaya with Sausage and Shrimp

Cajuns are descendants of the Acadians, who came from France and settled in the 1600’s in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which they called Acadia. In 1713 the British took over their land due to the treaty that ended the War of the Spanish Succession, and they deported the Acadians. The Acadians were put on ships and Louisiana was one of the places many of them were sent to. There, they settled down in the swamps and the countryside by the bayous, and soon the term Acadians grew to the shorter one of Cajuns.


Creole jambalaya

Creole food: jambalaya close-up on a plate on the table. horizontal

Creoles are decedents of the French or Spanish who colonized Louisiana. It also came to include decedents of the African and Caribbean slaves who were taken to Louisiana during the colonial era. They were city folks, most lived in New Orleans.

Bon Ton Cafe – Cajun Cuisine

Bon Ton Cafe is an example of a New Orleans Cajun restaurant. The founders, Al and Alzina Pierce, came to New Orleans in the early 1950’s with their family recipes from Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes in the bayou area of South Louisiana. Bon Ton brought traditional Cajun cuisine to New Orleans.  Two Bon Ton specialties are their Rum Ramsey cocktail and the Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce. Also, their crawfish bisque is considered by many as the best in the city.

Antoine’s – Creole Cuisine

Antoine’s—in New Orleans dates from 1840—and is the oldest family-owned restaurant in America. Antoine’s son, Jules, invented Oysters Rockefeller. He named it Rockefeller because the sauce is so rich. The original recipe is a closely guarded secret.  Many other iconic recipes were created at Antoine’s including Eggs Sardou, Pigeonneaux Paradis, and Pompano en Papillote.

It is ironic that my hubs (work lunches) and my characters got to eat at these places that I never did. During our time, we were young, had small kids and couldn’t eat in the sassy places. 

When you think of New Orleans’s food, what do think of? And while you’re thinking, take a fictional visit to New Orleans with my Big Uneasy series!

Perilously yours,


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