What is Cajun Food? – Part 1
Cajun food has the reputation of being highly spiced, featuring a lot of fish and mostly being served in bowls due its consistency of being stew-like. But is this the truth? Or is there more to be said about this highly original food? In this blog we will be discovering more about who the Cajuns actually are and the truths about their cuisine.
Who are Cajuns?
The Cajuns are an ethnic group that are descendants of the exiles from Arcadia, they were a French speaking people mainly from East Quebec, Nova Scotia, the Maritime Provinces and the north of Maine. These people came to settle in Louisiana in four main regions, Lafourche and Teche, the Atchafalaya Basin, New Orleans and the Attakapas Indian land. Moving home, they also decided to form their own type of French language, called Cajun French. Along with a new home and language, the people developed a new vibrant culture, including music, tales and, of course, food.
What is Cajun Food?
The cuisine of the Cajun people is possibly one of the misunderstood foods around, it is often considered nothing but a spicy, burnt fish stew. But the reality of it all is that Cajun food is one of the most unique cuisines in the world, as complex as its diverse culture.
Is Cajun and Creole Food the Same Thing?
The first thing to sort out is that Cajun and Creole are not just foods, they are two completely different cultures. In fact, the two regions are nearly one hundred miles away from each other. It is true that in the foods there are a crossover of ingredients, but it is the preparation and cooking techniques that are so different. Creole people were the urbanites, whilst Cajuns were rural folk that lived off the land, and this distinction is found in their foods. Cajun food tends to be more like comfort food, with ingredients gathered from all around them in the swamps.
Cajun food tends to be rather simple, delicious but easy. On the other hand, the Creole people tried to integrate French and European styles and ingredients into their diet, so they imported many ingredients from Europe to use in their food. The result was high level dishes that were complicated in their preparation and execution. One such example is to take a Creole remoulade sauce, many chefs use at least ten ingredients that are painstakingly put together to form a rich and opulent sauce, and that is quite amazing as it is only served on the side!
In all Cajun food there is a legacy they brought from their French heritage and that is a version of the famous mirepoix which is a base of chopped onions, celery and carrots. The Cajun Holy Trinity is onions, bell peppers and celery. In nearly every Cajun dish expect garlic, with the embellishment of fresh green scallions and parsley to the final dish before serving.
In part two of our investigation into what exactly is Cajun food, we look into the world of spice and see if all Cajun food has to be super-hot. And to find out if Cajun cooks still shop at the local swamp for their ingredients.