Cajun cooking, why is it so special? In the hearts of flavor
artists Cajun Cooking holds a special place. But why?
Here's what I believe. Cajun cooking takes the basic ingredients
of many foods found throughout the United States and adds a depth of
flavor unlike any other. It's all flavor, the height of flavor...
and... the fine matching of the flavors. Don't think for a moment
that Cajun flavor equals pepper hot seasoning. That's not what it's
Yes, Cajuns like pepper but the pepper is only an "add
on". If you give a true Cajun a dish that was only seasoned
with pepper and didn't have a seasoned body to it... he or she would
not be satisfied!
What is a seasoned body? First the blend of seasoning must match
the dish. Second the amount of seasoning must equal the portion
served. How can I figure out how to get the right blend? Well first
thing is to read Cajun recipes and "get a feel" for the
seasonings used per dish.
Remember, us Cajuns grew up doing what we do... if you're not
that fortunate, it will take learning on your part. Be
You will see many recipes that involve hours of cooking. Unlike
today, back in the "olden times" (I love that saying) the women
(without day jobs) took the time to prepare exquisite meals day
after day. Isn't it funny that the famous chefs are mostly men?
Here's my explanation... the guys watched their mother or wife cook
and got crazy with it. No really.... it's all what's in your heart
and most great chefs all love to go back home and eat
The exile of the 1700's scattered the Nova Scotia (Acadia) French
in various locations. Most eventually wound up in South Louisiana.
They lived off the land, and, the land had plenty to offer in
Louisiana. Exposure to the Spanish, Indians and Germans had a food influence
and then the Creole styles put the finishing touches on many a fine
dish. As you can imagine the foreign travelers brought their
native seeds to plant here. Did you know okra and tomatoes are not
native to North America? As with several other foods they were
welcomed with open arms and the dishes got better and better.
Even though the foods were a little different the cooking styles
stayed the same. If you read some recipes from the Nova Scotia area
you'll see what I mean.
Time went on and as we fast-forward to the 1970's the famous chef
Paul Prudhomme from near Opelousas made Cajun Cooking a national
craze. His famous "Blacken Redfish" was a hit around the
U.S. Given the new-found style, up popped Cajun restaurants all over
the place. Some were imitators and some were the real thing. How do
you know if you're eating real Cajun food at a restaurant? Ask the
name of the owner or chef... if it's a South Louisiana name you'll
probably enjoy your meal.
Today, with the Food Network and other shows, the word
"Cajun" is well known. Emeril Lagasse brought Cajun/Creole
to New York when he left his post at Commander's Palace in New
Orleans. He continues to practice the styles on his TV shows. Before
Emeril Justin Wilson displayed his skills and comedy on PBS.
Cajun cooking is not only a food but a history of survival from a
culture of giving people.
Eat well, live well....