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The Difference Between Cajun and Creole

Burning Question: Are Cajun and Creole Cooking the Same?

It's an age-old question: is there a distinction between Cajun and Creole cooking — or are they really just the same thing?

The answer is somewhere in between. Creole cooking evolved out of the cosmopolitan culture of New Orleans, a city affected by the influx of international colonists who settled there after the Louisiana Purchase. New Orleans's denizens adopted spices from Africa and the Caribbean, butter and cream from France, tomatoes from Italy, and peppers from Spain and took advantage of the abundance of oysters, shrimp, and crab abundantly available in the Gulf.

Cajun cooking developed in Louisiana's rural backcountry. Acadians drew from their French and Southern roots, cooking whatever could be farmed and trapped locally, along with other inexpensive ingredients such as crawfish, rice, beans, and pork fat. Some of Louisiana's dishes are distinctly Creole, like shrimp rémoulade. Others — take crawfish étouffée, for instance — are credited to the Cajuns. But certain dishes shared by both cuisines, such as jambalaya, possess subtler differences: the Creole version typically contains tomatoes, while its Cajun counterpart employs a roux.

Over time, as the two terms have been used more generically and interchangeably, the differences between Cajun and Creole cooking have become blurred, and food historians have taken to focusing on regional differences within the state. What's your take on Cajun versus Creole? Which do you like more?

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Chaoticfury Chaoticfury 8 years
Cajun is spicier which means I love it more!!!
syako syako 8 years
That's funny, because I agree that they are completely different but cajun is much much better to me. Especially cajun jambalaya.
Neuroticone Neuroticone 8 years
I'm going to have to agree with HoneyBrown. But also I may be bias too.
jmorri26 jmorri26 8 years
Not the same!!! Geez if youre from there this isn't even a question! The best explanation I've seen was by cookbook author Malcolm Hebert: What is the difference between Creole and Cajun cooking? Most Louisiana chroniclers claim the answer is simple. Many Creoles were rich planters and their kitchens aspired to grande cuisine. 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. On the other hand, the Acadians, pronounced , later contracted to Cajun, were a tough people used to living under strenuous conditions. They tended to serve strong country food prepared from locally available ingredients. It was pungent, peppery and practical since it was all cooked in a single pot. Thus Cajun cuisine was born. While both cuisines are distinct, there are cross references. Rice is a staple of both and Creole and Cajun chefs usually start dish by making a roux of oil and flour. In addition, there are many common ingredients such as 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 and wines, liqueurs and brandy. There is one rule that both the Creoles and Cajuns agree upon and that is that there is no one rule and no one recipe when it comes to matters of food. 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. Because of the changes, it is difficult to get recipes. In restaurants, few chefs write recipes down learning from each other in the kitchen. In households, Mammas would verbally give the recipe to their daughters, who as they cooked the dishes added their own flavors and subtle changes. So, to summarize- Creole was the rich French side of cooking with local Louisiana produce and supplies. Cajun was more humble average people food made usually in a big pot with cheaply available local food. Creole always tastes more along the lines of souped up classical French while Cajun is (in general) tomatoe-er and spicier. More rustic.
HoneyBrown1976 HoneyBrown1976 8 years
No they are not the same. Creole cooking is tastier. But, I am biased anyway!!
kia kia 8 years
Fascinating. When I was last in New Orleans for a conference I went early to treat myself to a day of cooking school and they taught Creole/Cajun as if they were interchangable. We did a roux jambalaya which stuck out to me because it was different than the tomato version my grandmother would make.
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