Creole not Cajun
- Burger Boy Mar 28, 2002 11:03 AM
For one final time, where does everyone feel is the best Creole, not Cajun? and are there any places to really avoid?
Greetings to Burger Boy & Zack:
Zack, there is a BIG difference between Creole and Cajun. The Cajuns are the rustic folks who live in the bayous. They are descended from those persecuted Acadian folks who were forced by the British to WALK to the Louisiana Territory from Nova Scotia back in the 1750s. Cajun food is much more country, rustic, and less refined than Creole food...though just as delicious.
The Creoles are the descendants of the mostly French (because there were Spanish Creoles in Southern Louisiana as well) aristocracy who initially came from Europe. Those individuals made up the planter and merchant classes, while the Cajuns were essentially poor, uneducated rustics, who survived off the land and waters.
Creoles can be of purely European descent, or a mixture of African, European, and/or Native American. Although the ignorant often like to make it a classification of racial mixture, in the United States (as in other parts of the New World) Creole is most accurately defined as more of a cultural than a racial classification. A white Creole woman advertising in the newspaper for a Creole slave would have been seeking a slave who spoke French, was Catholic, and cooked Creole food.
There were French (white) Creoles, Creoles of Color (mixed race), and Black Creoles. After the Civil War, there was a movement lead by the white Creoles to prohibit anyone of African ancestry from referring to himself or herself as Creole without adding an adjective to classify them as a Black Creole or Creole of Color. Today many uninformed people, including many descendants of Creoles of color, think that the Creoles of Louisiana were as a rule mixed race people. That could not be farther from the truth.
The ranks of Creoles white and Black swelled with the Haitian Revolution. First the white planter class fled Haiti to Southern Louisiana and Cuba. They were followed later by the mulatto planter class, which increased the number of free people of color in that area.
Creole food is more refined than Cajun food, but it is by no means classic French cooking. Creole food has very strong African and Native American influences, while Cajun has fewer African influences. It is essentially ustic French cooking, adapted to the foods ntive to that area, with some Native American influences.
There are more Creoles of color and their descendents right here in California than there are in the whole of Louisiana. Our parents and grandparents came here for ship building and dock jobs during WWII, and many who served in that war settled in Los Angeles and Oakland after the war. The LA LA Festival and the Creole Festival are testaments to the considerable Creole segment of the Los Angeles population.
For authentic Black Creole, Harold & Belle's is the place. The service is horrendous at times, but the food is wonderful. Also check out the So. Cal. Survival Guide section of Chuck Taggert's Gumbo Pages web site for restaurant reviews: http://www.gumbopages.com/socal-home.... The whole site is awesome!
My five cents,
re: Burger Boy
Hi Burger Boy:
There are many other ethnic groups in Louisiana, but I was expounding on Soccer Dad's question regarding the difference between Cajun and Creole. There were FAR more Irish and Germans than Italians and Greeks. The Italians FAR outnumbersed the Greeks and both groups came significantly after the French styles had firmly entrenched themselves into the cuisine. Today, you have "Italian Creole cuisine" and even "Asian Creole cuisine." It was NOT my intention to discuss all of the influences on Louisiana cooking. I only hoped to provide Soccer Dad with a rudimentary explanation of the difference between Cajun and Creole cuisines.
As I get ready for my annual trip to New Orleans for Jazz Fest, there's few foods I hold nearer to my heart.
Honestly, its one of the few foods in LA that its real difficult to find well done. People will recommend Rajin Cajun in Hermosa, but I've found it to pretty gawd awful, but if you don't know any better and you drink enough Abita... The Gumbo Pot in Farmers Market makes some pretty unremarkable gumbo and jambalaya. Uncle Darrow's at least tries to make a gumbo that isn't toned down for LA healthy tasebuds.
Sigh, thats one of the big reasons I'm headin to nola at least once a year - ummm, I can hardly wait to take my first spoonful of pheasant quail andouille gumbo (rich, smooth and smoky) at this year's festival.
re: More of Everything
I agree with you that Ragin' Cajun in Hermosa Beach is not very good. When I ate there, I thought, "Where's the meat?"
I think Harold & Belle's is the best in LA right now.
I heard Bayou St. John in Seal Beach is worth trying but I haven't made the trek there yet.
I sure miss the now closed Orleans restaurant.
try les sisters out in chatsworth
21818 Devonshire Street
it's a drive, but the jambalya, pork chops, meatloaf, & hot links are well worth it...
I believe the difference is Creole has more of a refined city cooking, with sauces, etc. Cajun is more a country cooking, one pot dishes, jambalaya, red beans and rice. Both are excellent, i was just in the mood for some good etouffee, crawfish monica or some drum fish in a great sauce. That is all. If my descriptions are wrong, please let me know.