Although the terms "Cajun
" and "Creole" are sometimes used interchangably in terms of cuisine
, and there are many shared dishes between the cultures, it is important to remember that Cajuns and Creoles are two distinct cultures and the cuisines are also distinct.
Creoles were initially the aristocratic French who arrived to settle New Orleans (although now the terms has expanded to include descendants of the Free People of Color, and almost anyone of French Ancestry in the American South). French methods of cooking largely dominate Creole cuisine, and many dishes and sauces remain essentially French.
Creole cuisine has many varied roots and influences including; Spanish, French, African, German and Italian. The cuisine is indebted to the many people of diverse cultures who shared cooking styles, ingredients and talent. Early in the history of New Orleans, Creole homemakers became frustrated with an inability to duplicate Old World with local products. Governor Bienville commisioned his housekeeper, Madame Langois, to introduce them to local vegetables, meats and seafood. Madame Langois founded one of the earliest cooking schools in America.
The original Acadian immigrants (the word "Cajun" is a corruption of Acadian) came to Nova Scotia from France. They were primarily from Brittany, Normandy, Picardy and Poitou. These fishermen and farmers had learned how to adjust, survive and make a life for themselves in the New World. When they were forcibly dispered by the British, many of them ended up in the Bayou country of South Lousiana. None of the exotic spices and ingredients available to the Creoles were to be found by the Cajuns in Bayou country and it was largely fruitless to attempt to recreate the classical cuisine of Europe. The Cajuns utilized what was indigenous to the area. Cajun cooking is therefore often simpler than the Creole, often consisting of meals that are made and served out of one pot.
I have attempted to gather together links to some important (and delicious) dishes common to Creole (and Cajun) Cuisine, some of them are my own or from family members and friends, some have been noded by others. It is important to note that there are many, many variations on some of the simplest dishes (e.g. Red Beans and Rice), and by no means should any of these recipes be considered definitive.
Soups and Stews
Red Beans and Rice
Chocolate Doberge Cake
Cafe Au Lait
Some information on the histories of Creole and Cajun cooking and Cuisine taken from "So you want to cook Cajun and Creole?" by Chef John Folse.