The Difference Between Cajun and Creole

Cajun and Creole are often considered to be interchangeable descriptors. However, most people would be wrong to do so. Cajun and Creole are actually quite different from one another, since they are two wholly separate cultures.

Creole culture is bound specifically to New Orleans, deriving from the French colonists in Louisiana. Originally used for both French and Spanish descendants living in Louisiana, it slowly began to involve American-born slaves who came from African descent, as well as those integrated into the society.

Creole food, at its core, is a combination of all of these cultures combined into one. By taking their European, African and Caribbean influences and melding them into one, the food ends up being one exotic, exquisite tastes and ingredients. Primarily, Creole food tends to have a great deal of variety, most of which comes from the mix of cultures and ingredients available to the Creole of Louisiana.

Cajun culture, on the other hand, originated from French settlers that rooted themselves in the Acadia region of Canada, eventually moving south through The Great Upheaval down to the swamp regions of Louisiana. Considered less exquisite and high-brow than the French Creole of Louisiana, the Cajun people were though to be incredibly resourceful, making the most out of what they could get.

For that reason, Cajun food differs greatly from Creole food. Whereas Creole uses exceptional ingredients, recipes, and combines a variety of cultures into one dish, Cajun food is known for making the most out of their food, whether that comes in the form of Cajun seafood or other Cajun specialties. One of the primary notions behind Cajun food is that it is entirely resourceful with their food sources, utilizing every piece of their ingredients. In the case of hogs, that meant using every piece of the animal to Boudin — pork sausage — and other pork staples like Tasso and Andouille. Similarly, Cajun seafood is most well-known for its use of crawfish, a particularly healthy type of seafood that is low calorie, easy to catch, and profitable. Recorded data shows the first commercials harvests of crawfish to have taken place in 1880.

Furthermore, Cajun food is well known for their vast use of spices and base ingredients, such as vegetable stews and vegetable medleys. This comes back to the resourcefulness of Cajun cuisine, wherein they seek to bring flavor to even the most naturally unpleasant sorts of meat dishes, providing flavor and mouthfeel by whatever ingredients they have available. Similarly, Cajun food often uses heavy salting and smoking to preserve foods — something that was established out of necessity, as refrigerators were not common among Cajun folk. This furthered the means for marinating food, revolutionizing its form of smoking and spicing meats.

For anyone visiting Louisiana, you should remember that there is a difference between both Cajun and Creole culture and cuisine. Both have their own sort of flair, and their own sort of taste. Both are noteworthy in their own right, and wholly worth exploring.

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