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African Origins in Creole Food

Creole foods are amazing, but what are their origins?

We all must have heard of the term Creole. Some heard it in Beyonce’s songs, some in other places, but they are much more than just a unique term. The Creole foods originally are known to and referred to as Louisiana Creole cuisine. This type of cooking is rich, marvelous, bursting with special flavors and that is because it combines various origins and influences. For example, Creole foods have developed in a special way due to a mix of Spanish, French, Amerindian, Haitian, German and Italian and even Irish way of preparing food. However, the most prominent influence was the West African.

Creole foods are most of the time confused with Cajun foods (of course, they are quite similar, but…) for a reason – a gorgeous explosion of amazing aromas to our palate.

The gastronomy expert Roy Francis Guste Jr. of Louisiana remembers how his restaurant has kept his family in the culinary business for almost 200 years. Coming from a family of Creole origins, they have promoted and perfected the amazing restaurant “Antoine’s” over the years, starting in 1840.

The family business of this restaurant was passed down to generations, thus the uniqueness and tradition of preparing Creole foods was preserved in a most classy, traditional and respectful way. Every cuisine is special, but Creole foods bring their own importance and magic with them.

What does ‘Creole’ represent?

The Creoles are people of an ethnic group called ‘Creoles’, term coined through ‘creolisation, cultural, racial and linguistic mixing of the emigrants of Europe during the colonial era. You may wonder, where is Africa mentioned here? Well, a big part of the Creoles were major ethnic groups in Africa (Cape Verde and Equatorial Guinea) consisted of mostly Portuguese and African people during the mentioned era.

creole food pepper onion spices

Creole delights with African heritage

The famous Gumbo kicks off the best of the best here. A dish that is steamy and alluring and mixes origins of Caribbean and Africa as well. A perfect blend of the healthy, super-food okra that is simmered with no rushing, surrounded with mouthwatering thick gravy containing butter, flour and oil for its creaminess. To make it richer, there is a mix of various meat kinds, chopped celery and onions and of course, the bell peppers that are a must in Creole foods. The base for this dish is plain rice and this dish can even combine seafood like oysters, crawfish or crabmeat as well.

creole food jambalaya

Does Jambalaya sound familiar? Of course. But, you probably never knew this is Creole food by origin. This is the famous dish of tasty veggies, a sausage and mix of a few seafood types. It coms with a delicious long-grained rice and savory, warm stock – all made in one pot. You can even choose from Jambalaya with alligator meat, chicken, shrimp, turkey and all else. Much like Spanish ‘paella’ – mix of tastes in one single pot.

For those lovers of spices, it is time for Andouille! A pork meat that is heavily smoked and spices are tossed without limitations, making it a gourmet dish. The seasoning includes salt, black pepper (cracked), a bit of garlic for a nice aroma refreshment. The best thing? This is smoked on top of pecan wood piece and a sugar cane for many hours! This amazing meal is served with rice and chewy red beans.

The local Creole favorite is the Crawfish étouffée. It is like a version of the Gumbo, only with even more spices! This dish blends many spices that will overwhelm you; cayenne, garlic, onion mélange (soft blend) and fresh green pepper. The rice on the side is a must, of course.

creole food shrimp

If you do not try a Shrimp Creole, you’d miss a lot. The shrimp is delicately peeled, over it is tossed nicely chopped onions, green pepper and green onion as well, all enriched with tomato in chunks.

Next on the list is the Muffuletta. The sandwich with rich content, the perfect sandwich you will ever taste. Stuffed with ham, provolone, salami, some savory olive mix spread – this will leave you enamored after the first bite. When in New Orleans, for the best version of this sandwich, head to the “Central Grocery” which in fact, invented this version back in 1903.

Po-boy? Yes, please! The Po-boy has many versions, but basically it is a sandwich. But, wait. This sandwich is made with French baguette (elongated bread loaf), stuffed with aromatic roasted beef, gravy from the beef cooking, but there are versions with smoked sausage or turkey as well. You need more choice? Sure. There are even versions of this with shrimp, oysters, catfish and marvelous white sauce (like tartar sauce). This goes best served with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and pickles, so get ready for a rich meal!

There is something simpler as well, like the rice and red beans. This is not just a side dish or decoration food, it is a real exquisite dish. Traditionally, Creoles make this with pork (leftover) to simmer slowly with the beans, and to this, on the plate you will also see the rice, pork chops, some sausage and maybe fried chicken (as per choice).

How does Oyster Rockefeller sound? Splendid! Antoine is the creator of this lush meal and this has been served ever since 1899. It is a perfect mix of oysters, topping of capers, parmesan cheese, some parsley for a fresh smell and a thick, tasty sauce of milk, butter and flour resulting in perfection.

Creoles are also known for the bread pudding as well. This started as a simple use of French baguette stale bread and developed into a gourmet, simple and very tasty meal. The stale bread drips with mix of sugar, eggs and milk, it is baked until golden and while hot, is topped with a bourbon sauce, pecans, shreds of white chocolate and lemon wedges. Now, this is something you haven’t tried for sure!

creole food bananas foster

You like bananas? Try the Banana foster. A dessert with chunks of banana, dark and sweet rum, a portion of ice cream, and mix of spices and sugar. This is the golden invention of “Brennan’s Restaurant” in New Orleans.

creole food beignet

For those fans of finger food or pastries such as appetizers or donuts, Creoles make amazing Beignets. Its other name is a ‘French donut’. This is basically a square-shaped dough that is fried until it has a crispy and golden outlook, whereas the center remains chewy and soft. Prior serving, they are embellished with powder sugar, and guess what – there are seafood savory versions of this too!

Lastly, no one would like to miss out on the Creole pralines. Perfect sweet confections the size of a caramel or toffee. Originally, made with almonds that are sugar coated and were considered a ‘digestive’ dessert. But, the modern version of these pralines is pecans and nuts, a whole handful! Some pralines are even made with thick cream, sweet spices and even the inevitable hot sauce of the Creole cuisine.

As you see, African origins in food are splendid and have been perfected over the years – now being considered the gourmet categories of worldwide gastronomy lists.