The second part of our blog trying to define who the Creole are, looks into the type of food that is termed Creole and is eaten by Creole people. In part one we saw that there was some confusion over the definition of the term Creole, its people and the music. By delving into its rich food culture, we may be able to expand more on the influences on Creole as a whole. And try to define its people and its culture a little more accurately. We start with Louisiana Creole cuisine, where its roots and influences lie.
Louisiana Creole Cuisine
Creole cuisine that hails from Louisiana blends in many European and other influences to produce a highly unique type of food. Influences include French, Spanish, Italian, Haitian, West African and other colonies that resided in Louisiana before it became part of the United States of America. Without doubt the most influential cuisine on Creole cooking was that of France, and in many ways proper Creole food is full of high class ingredients and cooking techniques. The food of Creole is full of complex sauces and slow cooking methods.
Visiting Louisiana, you will be probably faced with two main types of food, Creole and Cajun. One of the biggest ingredient differences between these two cuisines is that Creole heavily uses tomatoes in the dishes. While other ingredients are quite similar. Creole has been tagged city food whilst Cajun is more rustic and the food from the swamps. In essence, it is the people that define the cuisines and where they live.
Creole defines the people who descended from French settlers from French colonial Louisiana. Most specifically the people who resided in New Orleans. Originally, they were descended from upper class French and Spanish descendants that owned New Orleans. Creole food is a complex blend of all the influences of the peoples that settled there, not only French but Portuguese, Native American, African and Spanish. And it was the slaves of the elite that used to prepare the food using an array of ingredients including some imported from Europe.
This food is highly spiced, there are creamy soups and exotic sauces. Some dishes such as Jambalaya cross over to both Creole and Cajun cuisines but they are prepared differently and contain different ingredients. The rouxes are also very different, the Creole roux being prepared with butter and flour unlike the Cajun one that uses oil and flour.
There are some famous Creole dishes that you can find on restaurant menus all over the world, such as Gumbo, Jambalaya, Red Beans, Dirty Rice, Shrimp bisque, Crawfish etouffee, and Oysters Bienville. Smoked meats also play a big part in Creole food as it was a way of preserving the food before refrigeration, as well as confiting turkey or duck which preserves the meat in fat. Game is also widely used in Creole cooking as well as catfish and red fish.
Creole is a hard thing to define, it has improved as its people have evolved and moved with varying outside influences. It is still a traditional culture, with its own music, food, language and ideas and the best place to find true Creole is in New Orleans.