What is Cajun? What is Creole?

And how are they different?

Well. Now, that’s a question! Both are native to Louisiana and are often served side-by-side in the same restaurants. Cajun and Creole both use a lot of the “Louisiana holy trinity” – a base of diced onion, celery and green bell pepper. But there are distinct differences. One of the most simple is that Creole dishes are often tomato-based and use tomatoes in sauces while traditional Cajun dishes don’t. But, like most things, it’s not that easy.

Cajuns and Creoles are different ethnic groups with different histories and cultures, but both have contributed to the music and flavor of New Orleans. Cajuns are of Acadian descent – French settlers who made their way to Canada but were eventually exiled and immigrated to the swamps and bayous of southern Louisiana. They’re known for vibrant music (Zydeco!), lively dancing and delectable food.

Creoles, on the other hand, depending on who you ask, are an ethnic blend of French, Spanish, Caribbean and African people, descended from the planter class and society of old Louisiana. Creoles have greatly shaped the history, music, art and cuisine of New Orleans.

What’s the Difference between Creole and Cajun Cuisine?

People often use the terms “Cajun food” and “Creole food” interchangeably when describing food from Louisiana, but they are not the same. Though the two styles share some influences and ingredients and even share some of the same dishes (including jambalaya, gumbo, and crawfish étouffée), they are distinct.

Cajun food is robust, hearty fare found along the bayous of Louisiana. It can be described as a blend of French and Southern cuisines.
Cajun cuisine came to Louisiana during the second half of the 18th century, after the British forced French settlers out of the Acadia region of Canada. The word “Cajun” originates from the term “les Acadians.” This group didn’t have access to many ingredients available to the Creole people of New Orleans, so they had to use whatever they were able to farm or hunt on their own.

Cajun food is famous for being very well seasoned which is sometimes misunderstood as spicy. Seasoning is one of the most important parts of Cajun cooking, and that comes from much more than a heavy helping of cayenne pepper

Creole, on the other hand, is a bit more cosmopolitan. Along with heavy French influences you’ll find Spanish, Caribbean and even Italian and German.
Creole cuisine came first. The term “Creole” describes the population of people in French colonial Louisiana which consisted of the descendants of the French and Spanish upper class, and over the years the term grew to include native-born slaves of African descent as well as those of mixed racial ancestry. Like the people, Creole food is a blend of the various cultures of New Orleans including Italian, Spanish, African, German, Caribbean, and Native American, among others. Creole cuisine is thought of as a little higher brow or aristocratic compared to Cajun. Due to the abundance of time and resources, the dishes consisted of an array of spices from various regions and creamy soups and sauces. Creole cuisine has a bit more variety because of the easier access Creoles had to exotic ingredients.

At A Lil’ Tast’a Cajun we use most of our own authentic Cajun recipes handed down, but you will also find on your menu some delicious Creole dishes as well.