oh no....it's the ultimate food war !!!!

Discussion in 'Good Eats' started by snorton938, May 24, 2004.


creole vs. cajun cooking. which is your favorite?

  1. creole

    4 vote(s)
  2. cajun

    10 vote(s)
  1. snorton938

    snorton938 Founding Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Likes Received:
    which do you like better? creole cooking or cajun cooking? pretty good write-up below, and i must warn you there is a test at the end (which all of you will ace)...... :D

    Creole and Cajun Cuisine

    A melting pot of flavors and cultures, the foods of New Orleans are strongly influenced by Creole and Cajun cuisine.
    Creole comes from the word 'Criollo,' which the Spaniards named all New Orleans residents of European heritage during the 18th century. It meant native born and implied a cultured appreciation and aristocratic lifestyle. Creoles are considered native to the Louisiana region because they arrived before the Acadians, also known as the Cajuns.

    An array of ingredients and flavors found in Creole food were derived from, and strongly influenced by, a combination of five different cultures, including the Caribbean. The use of saffron, allspice, cloves, chili peppers, coffee, chicory and a variety of different beans comes from the Spanish culture. Cooking with okra, yams and peanuts evolved from the African culture, while the Choctaw Native Americans contributed filé powder, hominy grits and regional fish and game.

    French immigrants who settled in the Nova Scotia area of Canada were known as the Acadians. Exiled from Canada, they settled in New Orleans where the name 'Acadian' was shortened to 'Cadian,' which eventually evolved to 'Cajun.'

    While Creoles were wealthy landowners who lived in the city, Cajuns were poor immigrants who lived in the countryside. Robust home cooking that is spicier than Creole cooking, Cajun food is considered to be the poor cousin to Creole food.

    Whether Creole or Cajun, both cuisines are often associated with celebrating Mardi Gras.

    To check your knowledge about foods from the Mississippi River basin, match the following definitions with the corresponding Southern food selections in our 'Foods for Mardi Gras' quiz.

    Foods for Mardi Gras Quiz

    1. The Creole version of Spanish Paella. Its name is derived from the Spanish word for ham, one of the main ingredients in the original version.

    2. Also known as 'mudbugs,' these small, edible crustaceans are similar in look to tiny lobsters.

    3. Cooked onion, celery and green peppers used as a flavor base for numerous dishes.

    4. Known also as Twelfth Night Cakes.

    5. Evolved from blending the following cuisines: French, Spanish, African, Caribbean and Choctaw Native American.

    6. Ground sassafras leaves used to season and thicken soups and stews, especially gumbo.

    7. A traditional candy patty made from sugar, water and pecans.

    8. A fruity punch with alcohol that packs a big bang.

    9. Derived from the African word for okra, a thick, rich and robust soup.

    10. Essentially, the poor cousin to Creole food.

    A. Praline
    B. Holy Trinity
    C. Cajun Food
    D. Creole Food
    E. Jambalaya
    F. File
    G. Gumbo
    H. Crawfish
    I. Hurricane
    J. King Cakes

    Answers: 1.E 2.H 3.B 4. J 5. D 6.F 7.A 8.I 9.G 10.C
  2. Mr. Peabody

    Mr. Peabody Founding Member

    Dec 8, 2003
    Likes Received:
    I asked the difference between cajun and creole a while back. I had it explained to me like this.

    If I go eat at some nice restaurant in the French Quarter, I am eating creole food. If I went to eat at someones house out in the boonies, I am eating cajun.

  3. BRETT

    BRETT LSU FAN Staff Member

    Aug 4, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Another general rule is that many Creole dishes tend to use tomatos while Cajun dishes don't.

    Personally I cringe when I see a red jambalaya or tomato based gumbo. Both should be brown. ;)
  4. captainpodnuh

    captainpodnuh Baseball at da Box

    Aug 6, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Peabody is correct on the surface. Creole cooking tends to be more sophisticated, whereas Cajun is more country/backyard cooking with red/white checkered tablecloths. Creole also tends to be better seasoned and derives it flavor from seasoning rather than various types of pepper. There is a huge difference between well-seasoned and spicy. You can actually taste the food when it is well-seasoned. If it is all peppered up, all you taste (if you do) is spicy.

    I am from NO and I can agree with Brett that the tomato paste in the jambalaya shouldn't be there (Gumbo's a different story, as I love me some NO gumbo). However, my wife is from Cajun country, and when they go to cooking gumbo, or chicken stew, or etoufee, I just as soon go buy a steak to grill than to suffer through one of those meals. I guess its what you are raised on, as to where you get your taste for certain flavors. And there is little doubt by my taste buds that creole is several orders better than cajun.
  5. red55

    red55 curmudgeon Staff Member

    Oct 21, 2002
    Likes Received:
    It was even simpler for a north Louisiana redneck. If white people from south Louisiana made it--it was Cajun. If black people from south Louisiana made it--it was Creole.

    Of course, the food that we north louisiana white people ate was called "country cookin'." The same food that the north louisiana black people ate was called "soul food". And it was the exact same plate of white beans, turnip greens and cornbread. At least there were some real differences between cajun and creole.
  6. Uncle Gus

    Uncle Gus Founding Member

    Sep 24, 2002
    Likes Received:
    the whole Black = creole thing is just dead wrong. Growing up in NOLA I would hear black kids say, "I'm not black, I'm Creole." Today, it has come to be seen as mostly white or legally white in the case of octroons(less than one eighth black).

    A Creole is a native born child of parents with full European heritage (generally French or Spanish as it relates to around here).

    True Creole cooking in it's essence is an adaptation of the French style with the local ingredients and spices, thus more refined than Cajun.

    as it related to food, Jambalaya with tomatoes shold be aganst the law......
  7. snorton938

    snorton938 Founding Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Likes Received:
    here's a pretty good article on the distinction between cajun and creole cooking. the problem defining it now is that so much cross pollinating between the two has occurred over the centuries that they have many commonalities. my distinction has always been that creole is a blend of european aristocracy cooking and that of the carribean which was a major hub in the slave trade (i.e., gumbo is derived from african roots...no pun intended). cajun cooking is truly food of the land. alot of one pot meals and alot of wild game (or at least it used to be). anyway, i love this discussion 'cause there are so many viewpoints......here's the article....

    Louisiana's Creole & Cajun Cuisine

    South Louisiana has two unique cuisines: the Creole cuisine with its rich array of courses indicating its close tie to European aristocracy, and Cajun cuisine with its one potmeals, pungent with the flavor of seafood and game.

    In Louisiana, one can feast on crabs, crawfish pies, crawfish etouffees and crawfish bisques, gumbos, jambalayas, sauce piquantes, grillades and grits, preserved figs, salt pork, and ouille, boudin, black-eyed peas, red beans and rice, merlitons, smothered chicken, oysters, shrimp, redfish, speckled trout, bread pudding, pain- perdu, and much more.

    Most people eat to live, Creoles and Cajuns live to eat! Their very existence is food, more food and still more food! They are not greedy and certainly not selfish. They will gladly share a meal with you, offering the choicest morsels for your pleasure. They have adopted the Spanish "my house is your house" philosophy and are happy to make sure your stomach is full.

    What is the difference between Creole and Cajun cooking? Most Louisianians claim the answer is simple. Many of the early Creoles were rich planters and their kitchens aspired to the grande cuisines. Their recipes came from France or Spain as did their chefs. By using classic French techniques with local foodstuffs, they created a whole new cuisine, Creole cooking. The Cajuns, on the other hand, were refugees who relied on their Acadian cuisine tradition and made the best of what south Louisiana offered merely to survive!

    The Cajun and Creole cultures are quite distinct and so are their cuisines. The Creoles were the European born aristocrats, wooed by the Spanish to establish New Orleans in the 1690's. Second born sons, who could not own land or titles in their native countries, were offered the opportunity to live and prosper in their family traditions here in the New World. They brought with them not only their wealth and education, but their chefs and cooks. With these chefs came the knowledge of the grand cuisines of Europe. The influences of classical and regional French, Spanish, German and Italian cooking are readily apparent in Creole cuisine. The terminologies, precepts, sauces, and major dishes carried over, some with more evolution than others, and provided a solid base or foundation for Creole cooking.

    Bouillabaisse, a soup that came from the Provence region of France in and around Marseilles, played a part in the creation of gumbo.

    The Spanish gave Creole food its spices, and the paella, which was the forefather of Louisiana's jambalaya. On the coastline, seafoods were often substituted for meats in the jambalaya creating many variations, according to the local ingredients available at different times of the year.

    The Germans who arrived in Louisiana in 1690 were knowledgeable in all forms of charcuterie and from them came the andouille and other sausages.

    Mirlitons, sauce piquantes from south and central America and the use of tomato rounded out the emerging Creole cuisine.

    Native Indians, the Choctaws, Chetimaches and Houmas, befriended the new settlers and introduced them to local produce, wildlife and cooking methods. New ingredients, such as corn, ground sassafras leaves (or file powder), and bay leaves from the laurel tree, all contributed to the culinary melting pot.

    The African slave brought with them the "gumbo" or okra plant from their native soil, which not only gave name to our premier soup, but introduced a new vegetable to South Louisiana.

    Creole cuisine, then, is that melange of artistry and talent of cooking, developed and made possible by the people of various nations and cultures who settled in and around New Orleans, and is kept alive by Louisiana sharing it with the rest of the world.

    On the other hand, the Acadians, who were a tough people used to living under strenuous conditions, tended to serve nutritious country food prepared from locally available ingredients, mainly cooked in one pot. Like the cooking of the Acadians, the cuisine of the Cajuns is a mirror image of their unique history. It is a cooking style which reflects their ingenuity, creativity, adaptability and survival.

    Cajun cuisine is characterized by the use of wild game, seafoods, wild vegetation and herbs. From their association with the Indians, the Cajuns learned techniques to best utilize the local products from the swamps, bayous, lakes, rivers and woods. Truly remarkable are the variations that have resulted from similar ingredients carefully combined in the black iron pots of the Cajuns.

    The Cajuns cooked with joy and love as their most precious ingredients, a joy brought about by reunion, in spite of the tragedy that befell them. To cook Cajun is to discover the love and experience the joy of the most unique American cuisine ever developed.

    There are hundreds of different recipes for gumbo, jambalaya, turtle soup and they are all right because no one is wrong. Privately, they know that everything they cook is original, because their kitchens are kitchens of "ad lib". They are experimenting, creating, changing, always trying to make it taste better!

    The Acadian refugees who found their way to south Louisiana ate a lot of potatoes, fresh pork, salt pork, bacon, poultry, milk, cheese and butter, potatoes, cabbages, turnips, beans, peas, and other vegetables. They seasoned their dishes with salt, some pepper, thyme, summer savory, onions and garlic. The Acadians subsidized their diet with game and seafood. The Cajun cooks were blessed with an abundance of crab, river shrimp, lake shrimp, oysters, crawfish, freshwater and saltwater fish, plus squirrels, wild turkeys, ducks, frogs, turtles, pork, homemade sausages, beans of all kinds, tomatoes, okra, yams, pecans, oranges, etc.

    The Acadians ate a lot of bread, for wheat was plentiful, as was corn, and other grains. They ate maple syrup and molasses for sweets. They grew apples, peaches, pears, etc and gathered wild blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries.

    Just as the Acadian had become such close friends with the Mic-Mac Indians when they were isolated in the woodlands of Canada, the Acadian when arriving in Louisiana, befriended the native Indians in South Louisiana. And it was from the Indians that they got "file powder", the main ingredient for "Gumbo File". File powder is made from grinding the leaves of the sassafras tree into a powder.

    Another dish acquired from the Indians was "Maque Choux", which is a simple dish made from fresh corn, onion, bell pepper oil, some sugar (optional) and tomato (also optional). According to legend, the name Maque Choux comes from the expression "like cabbage". It is told that when the Europeans were first served the dish by the Indians, one of them asked the more adventurous ones "what does it taste like" to which, they replied "like cabbage".

    In Louisiana, wheat was scarce and expensive so corn flour and cornmeal were substituted, and rice was the main staple at the Cajun table.

    The Acadians made friends with the Spanish and Germans that preceded them as well. From the Spanish they were introduced to paella (the predecessor of jambalaya), grillades, stews, fricassees, soups, gumbos, sauce piquantes and a host of stuffed vegetable dishes, such as Mirlitons, are all characteristic of these new Cajun "one pot meals". And from the Germans, the Cajuns were reintroduced to charcuterie and today make andouille, smoked sausage, boudin, chaudin, tasso and chaurice, unparalleled in the world of sausage making. Their dishes were often pungent, peppery and very practical since it was also all cooked in a single pot.

    A meal could consist of a "fricot" which is a hearty soup made from potatoes, carrots and flavored with meat, poultry or seafood and to which are added a sort of dumpling referred to as "grand-peres". Accompanying the fricot could be a poutine rappee, covered with molassas or maple syrup and lots of bread and butter. For dessert, maybe a molassas pie.

    In the Maritimes, chowder is an important item on the menu both for its nourishment and for its flavor. The word chowder comes from the French word "chaudiere" which means iron pot. This suggests that the word originated in eastern Canada. There are as many recipes for chowder in the maritimes as there are for gumbo in Louisiana. Each different and each one delicious!

    All chowders share one thing in common. They all contain, with varying degrees, diced potatoes, chopped or sliced onions, chopped celery, stock, milk, or cream, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. In addition to this, some salt pork, contain corn, parsley sage rosemary, carrots, leeks, bell pepper, Fish, shrimp, clams, lobster, cod, clams, shallots, garlic, bacon.

    Cajun cuisine was called by someone as the "table in the wilderness", a creative adaptation of indigenous Louisiana foods by the Acadians.
  8. islstl

    islstl Playoff committee is a group of great football men Staff Member

    Nov 25, 2003
    Likes Received:
    I actually like the tomato based jambalaya (don' kick my ass for it please). But I love tomato based food (Italian food). So that has a lot to do with it. But I do actually prefer the creole version of jambalaya.

    Also, I love stuffed bread. This is one of the highlites for me in creole food.
  9. Bengal B

    Bengal B Founding Member

    Sep 5, 2002
    Likes Received:
    When you put tomatoes in jambalaya it stops being jambalaya and becomes Spanish Rice.

    I do occasionally make etouffe in the creole manner but most of the time I make it cajun style.

    Having grown up eating cajun dishes as a dietary staple and also having experienced the diverse creativity of creole cooking my own cooking style is an amalgamation of both schools of thought. I don't give a damn if you call it cajun, creole or whatever as long as you eat it and enjoy it.

    My greatist cooking passion is to experiment different combinations of ingredients to see if I can make a dish taste even better than the last time I made it.

Share This Page