What is Cajun Food?
You see them on restaurant menus all over the states, Cajun chicken, gumbo, jambalaya, boiled crawfish, etc. The world is slowly discovering Cajun cooking and thankfully so. These foods have rich flavors and are an easy decision for cozy meals on those snowy days.
Cajun cooking gets its name from the Cajun people who developed the style of cooking. The Cajun Acadians relied on their environment to get ingredients for their daily meals. So, the key components are seafood, vegetables and rice, which are readily available in the bayous swamplands of southern Louisiana.
Although Creole and Cajun food appear similar, they are distinct. To avoid a mixup, you can loosely define Cajun as country food, while creole fits city food perfectly. Cajun people rely on locally sourced ingredients, while creole cooking includes imported food items.
What is Cajun Food Made Of?
Cajun people live off the land. You can say they discovered foraging long before it became a thing. So the recipes revolve around the ingredients in season or readily available.
However, it’s not cajun if it doesn’t have the holy trinity: celery, onions, and peppers (usually green bell peppers). You can also use garlic, parsley, cayenne and other spices for seasoning.
Authentic Cajun food contains seafood such as crawfish and shrimp, but variations exist today that use only vegetables.
Is Cajun Food Spicy?
Yes, and no. Some cajun dishes are spicy, but that’s not always the case. Also, your definition of spicy may affect what spicy food is. For some people, spicy means hot while to others, spicy is food with lots of spices in it but not hot with chilies.
Cajun cooking relies on many spices, resulting in a burst of flavors with every bite. You can use cayenne pepper or other peppers to heat your Cajun plate.
Cajun isn’t always spicy (hot), but it always has spices. How you experiment with the different spices depends on your personal preferences.
Where is Cajun Food From?
Cajun food comes from Louisiana in the Southern parts of North America. The popular cooking style was brought to the U.S. by the Acadians who migrated south of the continent from Acadia in Canada.
The Acadians were French colonists who settled in Canada. They were deported to the south of the United States in the 18th century when they refused to submit to the British monarchy. When they moved to the US, they brought with them their cooking style, which featured the use of locally available ingredients resourcefully combined into hearty, flavorful meals. Of course, the southern part of North America had a different climate and the food was new, but the Acadians stayed true to their cooking ways with what was available.
Eventually, the Acadians’ way of cooking combined West African, Native American and Spanish influences to make up what is today’s Cajun cooking. Today, the diverse population of southern Louisiana prides itself on its distinct cooking ways.
What is the Most Popular Cajun Dish?
There are more Cajun dishes than we can count. However, some are more popular than others. If it’s your first time trying Cajun, here are some of the most popular ones you must check out:
- Gumbo: It’s almost a crime to visit Louisiana and leave without tasting the state’s official cuisine. Gumbo is a stew made from meat or shellfish, stock, soup thickener, and the cajun holy trinity. However, you don’t have to travel south to enjoy gumbo. With easy-to-find ingredients, you can throw this dish together in your home or visit a Cajun restaurant in New York.
- Jambalaya: The one-pot dish made to feed a crowd. It’s a hearty dish consisting of rice, shrimp, chicken, and andouille sausage. The mixture is rich in flavors and aroma and will surely win your palate over to cajun food. 1803 also has a flavorful vegan version of this classic.
- Crawfish (or shrimp) boil: This is one of the simplest Cajun meals. It’s made with live crawfish, corn, red potato, smoked sausage, and cajun seasonings.
- Boudin: This is a sausage of its kind. You stuff the casing with cooked rice, pork with onions and peppers, and Cajun seasonings.
Eating Cajun is more than enjoying tasty rustic meals. It’s a blend of backgrounds that testifies to the magic that results when different cultures come together.
Experience Cajun food firsthand for dinner or lunch in New York that tastes just as good as in New Orleans at 1803.