Creole cooking is very similar to Cajun cooking in the fact that they both use ingredients
such as bell peppers, onions and celery in their dishes. However, the Creole style of
cooking differs in some ways due to its use of local ingredients and simple European
flavors instead of wild game and the Acadian’s heavy French flavors.
The Creole style of cooking was found mostly in the homes of rich people whereas the
Cajun style of cooking was found in the poor farming communities.
Creole dishes were also served in many courses on a beautifully set table instead of a
single pot over an open flame, thus distinguishing it from the Cajun way of cooking.
Creole’s cooking style actually began when European settlers arrived in the late 1600’s
to start a new life and acquire wealth. Their European flavors mixed with the French,
African, Caribbean, Italian and Spanish, which in return created what we know as Creole,
or New Orleans style, cooking.
With the use of Italian and Spanish ingredients, Creole dishes took on a whole new flavor
with an abundance of tomatoes. The tomatoes were used in dishes such as jambalaya,
and gumbo and often replaced the use of roux (flour and oil).
The use of beans became another important ingredient often found in Creole dishes. Its
fame took on familiar dishes like red beans and rice, a New Orleans classic.
Traditional Creole cooking has its beginnings in the 18th century. French colonists settled
in the rich Mississippi Delta area, bringing with them over six centuries of culinary
expertise. Spanish colonists settled the region half a century earlier, and had already
introduced peppers, spices, and seasonings from the Caribbean, Mexico, and Latin
America into the native Louisiana Indian cuisine. Gradually, the separate cuisines
intermingled, and Creole cooking -- a blend of Spanish, French, African-American, and
Louisiana native Indian cuisine -- was born.
In the late 1800's, large numbers of immigrants from Sicily began to settle in South
Louisiana. Many stayed in New Orleans to establish businesses. With the arrival of the
Italians, a new dimension was added to Creole food. Like the many other earlier
influences, Italian cuisine contributed subtle nuances of taste. From the Italians the
Creoles cultivated a love of garlic. Its sensuous, sultry presence is encountered just
barely beneath the surface in many classic Creole dishes.
"Cajun food" comes from the deepest Southern parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. Like
the area it originated from, Cajun flavor is spicy, rich, and really tasty. A lot of people don’t
know that the typical Cajun food was developed by extremely poor people, refugees and
farmers that used what they had to feed their large families. This is one reason that rice is
a staple in Cajun food. Adding rice to a stew, or a dish, stretched the food so that there
would be plenty. Rice is still added to Cajun food, even if it is for the love of the flavor, and
not for necessity.
Since Cajun people are so close to the Gulf of Mexico, seafood is a big item in their
dishes. Favorites are crawfish, shrimp, catfish, crabs, and oysters. This is another
example of the Cajun people living with what they had. Seafood was available, as there
were a lot of fisherman, and that’s what they had to eat. Cajun spices always consist of
three things. Bell pepper, onions and celery are the favorite vegetables to add flavor for
the Cajun food. It is referred to as the ‘Holy Trinity. A couple of other favorites are
cayenne pepper and garlic. Cajuns are fond of their spice, and add it to most dishes that
Below is a basic dry seasoning that can be used as a rub or an additive to spice up any
Dry Seasoning Blend
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons salt
In a small bowl, combine onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil, thyme, black
pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika and salt. Store in an airtight container.
Now get cooking!