Let’s be honest, most people don’t know or care about the difference between Cajun and Creole food. If you don’t think Mardi Gras should be a national holiday, then you should stop reading now–but, if you love Louisiana culture as much as we do, then read on!
Let’s first discuss the difference between the people: basically, New Orleans Creoles are city and Cajuns are country. Cajun folks tend to live in Southern Louisiana but outside the Metro New Orleans area while Cajuns are the descendants of the French Arcadians that fled to South Louisiana. On the other hand, Creole people are a mix of all the immigrants, some that were forcibly moved, that flooded into New Orleans during the 18th and 19th centuries. Cajuns are predominately Catholic and speak French and Creoles are sometimes swayed by more indigenous religions.
There are also three differences between Cajun and Creole food.
The most easily identifiable is the use of tomatoes. For example, Creole jambalaya is red while Cajun jambalaya is brown because of their use of the ingredient. Now to muddy the waters… Sauce Piquant is Cajun and tomato-based, and is considered to be the Cajun version of Creole (think Shrimp Sauce Piquant versus Shrimp Creole). Some Creole Gumbo contains stewed tomatoes despite the ingredient mainly being used in Cajun food.
The second way to identify Cajun or Creole cuisine is its style- there is a city food versus country food feel. Like the people that cook it, Cajun food tends to be a rougher, down home style of food. Cajuns roast the whole pig while Creoles stew the chop; Cajuns take a tough cut and cook it all day while Creoles take a tenderloin and sear it quickly.
Finally, the most definitive way to decipher Cajun or Creole cuisine is the cooking process. Cajun is one-pot cooking¬– a roux is made, ingredients are added and a dish emerges; meanwhile, Creole is French-influenced cooking, often sauced and garnished. Examples of this include Eggs Sardou, a Creole take on Eggs Benedict, versus Grits and Grillades, Cajun-styled thinly sliced meat cooked down in a red wine sauce. In these dishes, the Sardou is built up using ingredients put together AFTER the cooking while Grillades are created DURING the cooking process.
Is the picture finally clear? Even though hairs have been split, it is an interesting distinction. Louisianans are proud of their extensive history and strongly uphold long-time traditions.
At NOLA Brasserie, we are proud to bring Louisiana culture to Dallas. So whether you order our Creole Blonde Roux Etouffee or Cajun Dark Roux Gumbo, we hope you enjoy our cuisine and come by often! Merci and bon appétit, y’all!