With our upcoming trip later this year to New Orleans and Natchez, I thought it would be fun to share with you a little history on some of New Orleans’ most popular foods: Cajun and Creole. Both are native to Louisiana and are found throughout New Orleans, but do you know the difference?
Cajun and Creole are often used interchangeably but in reality, they are two totally different cuisine styles with different backgrounds and from different cultures. One of the biggest differences is that Creole food typically uses tomatoes while Cajun food does not.
Cajun: “Country Food”
Cajun food is known as the “country food”. It was introduced to Louisiana from the French who migrated to the area in the late 1700’s. Many came from Nova Scotia and settled in the areas northwest of New Orleans such as Breaux Bridge and Lafayette. It typically is meat-heavy, one-pot meals with chicken, sausage, seafood and rice along with a roux and the “Holy Trinity” of vegetables that consist of bell pepper, onions and celery. It’s called this because it’s practically in every Cajun dish!
Cajun food was typically a food of the very poor such as farmers and refugees. Rice was added to help stretch the food further back then. It remains a staple in Cajun cuisine but not for the purpose it did back then.
Jambalaya is probably one of the most popular Cajun dishes. Many associate Cajun food with a more “common food” while Creole cuisine was often seen as a classier, fine cuisine.
Creole: “City Food”
Louisiana Creole is knows as “city food”. It was created in New Orleans with European (mostly Frence), African and Native American roots. While French influence is the strongest, there are certainly traces of Italian, Spanish, German, and even Caribbean flavors melded into the style.
The soul of Creole is found in rich sauces, local herbs, red ripe tomatoes, and the prominent use of locally caught seafood. It is associated with the traditional kitchens of New Orleans. Creole cuisine is distinctly savory with a rich taste.
Many of the immigrants into New Orleans were French. The native Indians introduced them to home grown vegetables such as corn, ground sassafras and bay leaves. Tomatoes from Central and South America were later introduced and okra seeds were by African slaves. It was added to some of the dishes, mainly soups. The African word for okra is “gumbo”.
Today in New Orleans, both Cajun and Creole cuisine can be found at thousands and thousands of restaurants. The spicy flavors of the food, the warm weather in the area and the exciting nightlife all make for a hot time in New Orleans!
We’re excited to be heading down to New Orleans this October. If you’re interested, we’d love to have you! I’m really looking forward to this trip!