Thinking of the geographically-based food niches around the world is fascinating. There’s no way to number them all, but they offer a unique look into history, culture, society, and human connection over the sustenance that keeps us alive. There’s a lot to learn about human beings by exploring what we eat. Too many people rush past this and merely consume because they’re hungry. We few among the culinary literati are more enlightened than that.
About 88% of diners say that one of the reasons they eat fish and seafood is for health benefits. That’s part of our specialty here at Crabby Daddy Seafood and Steakhouse, so we’re more than a little passionate about it. Our family owned seafood restaurant and market has a soft spot for Lousiana cuisine.
Two terms that have long been confused, but prolifically used, in cuisine are Creole and Cajun. Both describe types of Louisiana cooking. However, not many people truly know what they are, where they come from, and what the difference is. In fact, plenty of people erroneously use them interchangeably. You don’t want to sound silly when you’re clueless about Creole and Cajun styles the next time you’re at the best crawfish restaurant around, so we’re going to break these things down for you.
A Little History And Geography
The predecessor of Cajun style food, Creole cuisine goes all the way back to the 1700s. The word itself comes from the term criollo, which was a word American-born Spanish and Portuguese people used as a self-descriptive term. The cuisine, however, reflected the melting pot of cultures that formed early New Orleans. In the beginning, Creole food was extravagant and rich for its time and was often prepared for wealthier European city-dwellers.
Later on in the 1700s Cajun cuisine made its debut. When the British forced French settlers out of a region in Canada called Acadia, those settlers moved to Southern Louisiana. The term Cajun is derived from the French Les Acadiens and the food has an understandable amount of French influence. The main difference Cajun food had was that the primarily rural-dwelling people cooking it didn’t have the same access to ingredients that city-dwelling people did to make Creole food.
Long before people could hop in the car and head to the best crawfish restaurant for some good Southern cooking, the breakdown was basically like this: Creole is city food and Cajun is country food.
Good Eats, Regardless
There are a few culinary notes to make comparing the two styles, but there’s a saying that emphasizes the difference between the two:
“Creole cooking feeds one family with three chickens, Cajun cooking feeds three families with one chicken.”
An exaggeration, sure, but the fact remains that Creole cooking uses more extravagant ingredients, while Cajun cooking focuses on making do with what you have. Both styles share similarities, but also have striking differences. Where Creole cooking often uses tomatoes, Cajun cooking rarely does. Creole cooking uses a roux as a thickening agent, but Cajun cooking thickens dishes with oils or animals fat. What both cooking styles share is the Holy Trinity, which is onions, celery, and green bell peppers.
There you have it. Sure Crabby Daddy might be the best crawfish restaurant around, but with knowledge like this, you can set foot anywhere worth its salt in Southern cooking and know what you’re talking about. Now, get out there and eat something.