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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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