Cajun or Creole - A True Melting Pot of American Cuisine
The cuisine of southern Louisiana follows the early history of America. This prime geography situated on a bustling gulf and threaded with rivers, is favored with fertile swampland and prairie. For centuries it has attracted a multicultural list of inhabitants. So Cajun/Creole fare has benefited from the blend of cooking characteristics brought by the many people who settled this area. Still many ask about the distinction between Cajun and Creole. There are subtle and important differences. In recent years, however there has been a melding of the two cooking styles which shows that this area's cuisine continues to evolve. For generations it has drawn the best from international and indigenous influences to become uniquely American.
Cajuns trace their roots directly to the Acadian French who relocated from Normandy and Brittany to Nova Scotia in the early 1600s. When the British acquired Nova Scotia in 1755, the Acadians or "Cajuns" as they were known, were forced to leave. For the next 30 years, Acadians searched for a place to settle. Many of the displaced Cajuns eventually found their way to the swamps and prairie of southern Louisiana.
Geographically, the swamplands and bayous gave the Cajuns an ample region in which to live. The natural alluvial flood plain in this area is the largest in North America. Not only does it nurture choice seafood and wildlife but its prairies provide optimum conditions for growing crops and raising livestock.
Choctaw Indians, the area's first dwellers, revealed secrets of indigenous foods - namely bay leaves and filé powder, to the early settlers. Characteristic corn dishes of south Louisiana such as macque choux can also be traced to these native people. Cajuns quickly learned to cook with area's bounty of available ingredients. They cooked with traditional French flair but adapted their cuisine to the variety of indigenous foods. For added dimension to their dishes, Cajuns experimented with herbs and spices to find the best flavor combinations. With so much bounty from the bayous, Cajuns had truly found a promised land for their people and culture.
Creoles trace their heritage to the French, Spanish, Africans, Italians and other people who chose New Orleans as their home. The French began settling la Nouvelle Orleans in the early 1700's. During the French colonial period, food was characterized by traditional French sauces. Dishes were mild in flavor yet complex in preparation. Meals, prepared by African cooks, also took on a distinct African influence. Gumbo comes from the African word gumba, meaning okra. These cooks favored slow cooking over a low flame to intensify flavor blends.
When the Louisiana territory was traded to Spain in 1763, the Spanish added their influence to Creole cuisine. They mixed meat and fish in one dish. Until this time, a sausage and shrimp jambalaya was not common. In addition, they served food over rice - such as beans or gumbo. Finally, the Spanish cooked with hot peppers and highly seasoned dishes to suit their taste. Spanish contributions combined with French sauces and African influences comprise the foundation of Creole cooking.
After the Civil War, Creole food was again influenced from other directions. Italians came to New Orleans bringing with them a taste for rich tomato sauces and pasta. Soon after, Irish and German immigrants arrived and contributed the best of their cooking to evolving Creole cuisine.
Differences between the Cajun and Creole cooking can be distinct but are often blurred. A red jambalaya using tomato sauce is characteristic of the Creoles while a brown jambalaya is representative of the Cajuns. Pasta dishes are rarely found in a purely Cajun cookbook. Yet history, locale and fresh ingredients are common to the both cultures. So as travel, immigration and communication has increased between Cajun and Creole neighbors, the two cooking styles have gradually merged in character. Today, people everywhere know Louisiana cooking - whether Cajun, Creole or a combination of both, as some of the best in the world.
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About Cajun's Choice
The story of Cajun's Choice is about staying true to one of America's most unique regional cuisine's. Cajun's Choice was created to redefine America's misconception that Cajun was synonymous with fiery hot food. The food is highly seasoned, yes - but the flavor blends are complex and reflect a cuisine that mixes indigenous ingredients with world influences.
With the rise in popularity of Cajun cuisine and culture in the 1970s and 80s, Cajun foods and recipes could be found on menus throughout the U.S.. Seemingly everyone wanted to offer something with a Cajun "kick". Often these recipes were a far cry from true Cajun fare. For many 'restaurant chefs' outside the south unfamiliar with true Cajun/Creole cooking, the most common way to turn a dish "Cajun" was to pour on the hot pepper. The result was overpowering heat without any characteristic flavor. This gave many people all over the country the impression that all Cajun/Creole food was just "hot". Its taken many years for the true style of Cajun/Creole cooking to overcome this wrong impression.
Cajun's Choice was founded in 1985 by Louisiana native Rick Layne. As Layne traveled the country he found, too often, that Cajun flavorings and recipes were simply not true to the cuisine of his home. So he set out to create spice blends that correctly personified the flavor profile of good Cajun cooking.
Drawing from traditional recipes, the team devised genuine, consistent Cajun seasoning blends. Garden-fresh vegetables - commonly onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper, are mixed with fresh peppers, herbs and spices grown locally or imported from premium growing regions. These herbs and spices, blended with flavors only found in Cajun country, create seasonings and condiments that are true to this region.
Today Cajun cooking has evolved from a trend to a mainstay as one of America's favorite regional cuisine's. Enjoyed by the home cook, a Cajun influence can enliven a favorite casserole, a simple dish of freshly steamed vegetables or transform a microwave meal. Cajun's Choice products are designed with timesaving simplicity in mind. Our one-step packet mixes and quick preparation tips make Cajun's Choice cooking an easy choice for the first-timer or seasoned gourmet.
Our seasoning blends also offer a quality that is unmatched by any other brand on the market. Our products are derived from original recipes and contain more spice and much less salt than other national brands. The result is an exemplary family of products that offer the vast world of Cajun flavors along with easy preparation.
So whether you want to entertain with a favorite Louisiana recipe or simply jazz up an everyday meal - bring home the best of Cajun country flavor. Make your choice Cajun's Choice.