January 2006 Edition
Cajun and Creole Cuisine

Long before food tourism became a trend in places such as B.C. wine country, travellers to Louisiana sought out a cuisine unlike that of anywhere else. Spanish, French, African, Native American and other cultures all contributed to the distinctively seasoned local dishes, such as gumbo, jambalaya and crawfish etouffee.

 

Cajun and Creole are often used interchangeably in the north, but they are more distinct in the south. The word “Cajun” comes from “Acadian” – meaning the 18th century settlers of Nova Scotia, Canada. These settlers were deported in 1755, and resettled in southern Louisiana. Creole often refers to Louisiana-born descendants of early French and Spanish settlers, but the definition is open to lively dispute.

 

In terms of cooking, perhaps the simplest way to differentiate the two groups is to think of Creole as the cuisine of New Orleans, which was a busy and cosmopolitan seaport. Cajun cuisine was more influenced by country life in the rural areas, where Acadian settlers brought French influences to local ingredients, and also adopted some of the culinary accents of other local ethnic groups. These include the use of the traditionally African sassafrass powder called filé to thicken gumbo, local sausages derived from Spanish chorizo, and using the bounty of the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River, and the Louisiana Bayous: crawfish, oysters, shrimp, crab and fish.

 

According to A Book of Famous Old New Orleans Recipes, a collection of more than 300 Creole recipes published by Peerless Publishing Co. of New Orleans, most meat and fish dishes in Creole cooking begin with the same familiar instruction: begin by making a “roux.” This mixture of oil and flour, cooked until browned, is one of the features that give Creole cuisine its distinctive flavour. Other important features are lots of well-cooked onions, and the use of a cast-iron skillet.

 

Chef Paul Prudhomme, owner of K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, is perhaps the best known of Cajun chefs and one of the first to bring his local cuisine to a larger audience beyond Louisiana. He is often quoted as being a devotee of the “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking: celery, onions and green pepper. He has also helped promote the use of blended seasonings to bring depth and richness of flavour to foods, a hallmark of Louisiana cuisine that is now familiar to fans of Creole and Cajun cooking throughout North America.

 

One of the reasons Cajun and Creole cuisine travels so well is because it’s not just the tourists who are impressed with the regional dishes. The people of Louisiana are passionate about food, and send their cuisine across the continent as an ambassador of their rich and vibrant culture.

 

Sysco Imperial Cajun Sauce has an authentic southern style with a warm zesty flavour that brings the old south to life, complementing any meal.

 

Sysco Imperial Spanish Creole Sauce accents any meal with a sweet taste of “old world” home cooking flavour, bringing to life the recipes of today

 

Sysco Imperial sauces allow an operator with limited staff and/or resources to offer a unique flavour profile that any customer would think has been created and prepared by a chef.  The 1.2 litre cryovac pouch is boil in a bag preparation, just cut and pour dispensing.

 

For more information on Sysco Imperial Cajun and Spanish Creole sauces, contact your Sysco Marketing Associate.