Cajun Food History - Why Cajuns Live to Eat, Not Eat to Live

By Dianna Eure Smith

There is nothing ordinary about Louisiana dishes and the robust flavors of Cajun Food History. The past mixtures of Cajun and Creole foods have blended into the jazzy delights of today.

The heritage of Cajun food history began as far back as the 1700s. The Indian natives and the Arcadians, an exiled group from Canada, began the rich history of the bayous and rural Southern Louisiana.

All of the settled immigrants including Germans, French, English, Creoles, Africans, and Mexicans all played a part in developing this full-bodied Cajun cuisine.

Creole people had a more aristocratic heritage from England and all but shut out those that did not share their birthright. The settlers found a new home in the prairies and bayous and became well versed in the art of survival.

Cajun food history came together as a varied way of living off the land. The more refined Creole peoples remained in the city and enjoyed a more rich and elegant menu of many choices. Cajun people were poor and made homes in rural areas and deep in the marsh and swamps of Louisiana.

Initially, Cajun food never inspired a second thought and was rather ordinary. Poor immigrants simply had to "make do" with the cheapest foods and had no access to complimentary spices. As more settlers came to southern Louisiana, the immigrants melded together with each ethnicity lending their unique spirit and spices to their somewhat bland food and turned around their poorly defined menu into what became Cajun Food with a "kick."

A mixture of all ingredients in one pot became the staple of great Cajun food history. This flavorful type of cooking branched out into the southern states with each creating a new take on old recipes.

Settlers continued to move along throughout the south taking a piece of Cajun food history with them. Red beans and rice in Louisiana became peas and rice, or "hoppin john" in South Carolina while in Florida a different rendition of this dish became known as black beans and rice.

Many years later, derived from Cajun food history brought about new menus of "Southern Hospitality." The same main ingredients prepared in various ways.

Traditional Cajun food and recipes have been passed down and we continue to take pleasure in these "one pot" dishes melded with the goodness of Cajun food history.

Dianna lives in Texas with her husband and two daughters. Her husband is from New Orleans. His family lost the family recipe book during hurricane Katrina. Dianna created a website, Cooking New Orleans Style where family recipes could be viewed by all displaced friends and family. Please visit Cooking New Orleans Style for more free Cajun and Creole recipes.

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