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Exploring Louisiana’s Cajun Food Culture

Let us dive into the magical Cajun cuisine and history.

Cajun or Cajuns represents an ethnic group that is mostly situated in the United States, more precisely Louisiana. It is consisted of a big part of descendants that were previously exiled of the Acadians, i.e., French-speaking people of L’Acadie. Now they are recognized by the term Eastern Canada ‘Maritimes’. So, Cajuns take up quite a large portion of the southern part of Louisiana and its population, so their impact on the culture there is incredible and major. The cuisine is one of many things that stand out.

cajun food crawfish plate

The Cajun cuisine is marvelous!

One thing defines the word Cajun for many: spicy food and unique cuisine.

The foods are one of the most specific and mysteriously gorgeous foods. Some mistake ‘a Cajun plate’ for a full plate of greens or simply cooked fish and some spices. But, there is way more to it than this! the lead gastronomy Cajun expert, John Folse together with the chef of “Restaurant R’Evolution’ located at Royal Sonesta in New Orleans have simplified things for those curious about this food.

An intro to Cajun cuisine by the experts!

Firstly, never get confused between Cajun and Creole food. These are completely different cultures. Secondly, every meal has the famous ‘trinity’ of ingredients like celery, carrots and onions. Since the Cajuns were influenced by the French and Acadians, it is logical that these food items are in almost every dish. There might be added scallions, bell pepper, garlic and parsley as well. These items complete the unique Cajun dish, whatever it is. In case you notice a ‘traditional’ Cajun dish and see no green onion or maybe parsley tossed on top, it is not Cajun, so head to the next restaurant or food place!

Expect this food to be rich in flavor and quite spicy. The ‘blackened redfish’ by Chef Paul Prudhomme was the first introduction to this cuisine; nice delicate filet with cayenne and many spices, well-seared in a pot – this is how many Cajun foods tried to ‘imitate’ with passion for cooking; thus, the influences and similarities between such dishes. Cajun foods require spices and smoked flavors – this is like a rule, just the perfect amount of spicy that can be paired with water or some beverage – not milk to save you from the ‘hotness’ in your throat!

Quite a magnificent fact is that the swamp there is mostly the ‘natural’ shop for meal ingredients. There, many spices, herbs can be found, even seasonings of the type ‘sassafras’ (made into ground powder form) adding distinctive taste in some meals like the ‘Gumbo’. The swamp also contains the wild garlic, pepperworth, turtles, wild catfish and even frogs.

It goes as a saying: “Every Cajun meal is basically using the exact same roux”. But, what is roux? This is a specific mix of butter and flour that the French introduced – still, Cajuns made their own changes with fats and oils for more uniqueness in the taste. For example, the smoked duck gumbo, as per gastronomist Folse, is needed veggie oil, whereas for seafood gumbo is needed a much lighter roux.

cajun food crawfish

What are the specific and typical Cajun foods? Some will sound familiar, so check them out!

You never know where the next trip will take you (you do, but you might be curious more), make sure to pass by in Louisiana for this amazing cuisine.

You will be left breathless by the rich aroma of the Crawfish and shrimp étouffée. This is basically seafood, drenched in rich gravy-like stew, with a nice rice basis underneath. This is a no-brainer, a typical Cajun must-try. In the spring, fresh crawfish is used, but in the other seasons the shrimp or crawfish can be frozen.

Have you heard of shrimp and crawfish boil? It is Cajun of course! They love to prepare this for spring and summer festivities, made all in one pot and it signifies the start of the season of ‘crawfish’. The flavors in this boil even make the broth with it marvelously palatable. It is quite spicy, and you might want seconds.

cajun food jambalaya

Now, this probably sounds familiar – the Jambalaya. This is prepared in one pot as well and it includes tender, chewy meat like Andoulle sausage), with celery chopped and added all drenched in the exquisite rice stew. (The Spanish ‘Paella’ is almost the same as Jambalaya).

So far, you met the word Gumbo a few times here. Well, Gumbo is a dish of seafood and spices, there is also the healthy green veggie okra, mixed and thickened with a piece of file. This file is carefully made from a spice herb that was previously made of dry sassafrass leaves. This dish is served tableside most of the time – either as addition to your meal or as appetizer, you choose.

Do not miss out to try the Po’Boy Sandwich! This is hot whenever served and is quite rich in the filling. Tasty seafood (previously fried) and then stuffed in the middle, with some shrimp and oysters in between the bites you take. Wrap lovers, sandwich lovers – this is for you!

If you are a fan of bite-size foods or finger foods, try the Boudin Balls. This is a chunk of pork meat made into a sausage and with additions like rice and chopped onion. It does not end here – they are deep-fried to release gorgeous aromas and taste. A meat-bite made to perfection.

When in Louisiana, you MUST try the Maque choux. Now, this is not the main meal of the day, but more like appetizer or a side dish. It contains tasty gold-colour corn, fresh onion and bell peppers, all slowly braised to soak up seasonings and spices. They leave a tasty stock with them too.

cajun food gator burger french quarter

Alligator? Yes, this can be a meal too! It is considered as local type of meat, and surprisingly it is on many menus in restaurants. They use the meat of the tail, add seasonings, use rich stuffing of shrimp and crab, all enriched with the sauce etouffée. Those that tried it, swore it was DELICIOUS.

cajun food hot sauce bottle

You like hot sauce? You use it often at home? Well, this is Cajun! A sauce is not quite a dish, but is a condiment that some dishes cannot be cooked without. Especially in Louisiana. By now hot Tabasco rings a bell, right? Those serious sauce and chile lovers must visit TABASCO factory to browse through all sauces and samples offered. The most sought after is the chile garlic sauce, then chipotle hot sauce and the spicy and sweet pepper jam.

Finally, a bit of sweetness for those with a sweet tooth. The Pain Perdu is known as some kind of “French toast” (to all of us that are not from Louisiana). Translated, ‘Pain Perdu’ is literally ‘lost bread’ (French origin phrase) and it presents a meal made of stale pieces or slices of bread, drenched richly in a mix of battered eggs until they are soaked in it. There is even a version of this with filling of lovely cream cheese (The Lafayette’s – French Press restaurant). This is the most popular Cajun breakfast by far.