Cajun vs Creole Food: What’s the difference?

If you aren’t from Louisiana, it can be confusing to understand the difference between Creole and Cajun food. It can’t be too different…right? Well, much like many things in Louisiana, not everything is what it seems to be.

In short, Creole dishes are considered by some to be “city food”, while Cajun dishes are referred to as “country food.” But in order to really get to know the two cooking styles, you have to get to know the person behind the apron. Most of Louisiana’s talented chefs learned how to cook from their parents and grandparents, all while also acquiring unique stories and history behind the cuisines.

While the food itself has plenty of similarities, the culture behind the cuisine is distinctly different. Thanks to Louisiana Travel, visitors to Louisiana can learn the true difference between Cajun and Creole Food.

Cajun Food

The word “Cajun” actually originates from the French term “les Acadians”, which was used to describe French colonists that had settled in the Acadia region of Canada. The Acadia region now consists of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.

During the British Conquest of Acadia in the early 1700s, the Acadians were removed from their homeland in an event known as the Le Grand Derangement (which means the Great Upheaval). Most of the Acadians who were forcibly removed eventually settled in what is now known as Acadiana – a swampy region of Louisiana. Four unique regions of south Louisiana were settled by the Cajuns, all with different resources and influences. These regions are Lafourche and Teche (the levees and bayous), Attakapas Indian land (the prairies), Atchafalaya Basin (swamplands), and New Orleans area and Houma (coastal marshes).

The Acadians combined the flatlands, bayous, and the wild game of South Louisiana to create an entirely unique local cuisine. Many of the current Acadiana residents have Native American, German, French, or Italian roots and live a life extremely influenced by Cajun culture.

Because of the early settlers’ lack of access to modern-day luxuries, like fridges, the Cajuns had to learn how to utilize every part of their slaughtered animals. Boudin, a Cajun sausage consisting of pork meat, rice, and seasoning, also often contains pig liver for flavoring. Tasso and Andouille are two other types of Cajun pork products.

Cajun food is famous for its flavoring with seasonings like cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme, file, parsley, garlic, and so many more. Most Cajun dishes also begin with the “holy trinity of Cajun cuisine”, onion, celery, and bell peppers.

Creole Food

The term “Creole” was coined to describe the population born to early settlers in French colonial Louisiana, mainly in New Orleans. Creoles mostly consisted of descendants from the upper French and Spanish class that ruled over the city in the 18th century. Over time, “Creole” was also used to include native-born African slaves and free people of color. “French Creole” was used to describe someone of European ancestry that was born in the colony, and “Louisiana Creole” was used to describe someone of mixed racial ancestry.

Much like its creators, Creole cuisine is a mixture of the many cultures of Louisiana, including Spanish, Italian, African, German, Caribbean, Portuguese, and Native American. Compared to Cajun food, Creole food is considered to be higher-brow and typically contains many ingredients and takes time to prepare. Creole dishes also tend to have more variety because of easy access to exotic ingredients and spices.

If you want to see for yourself the difference between Cajun and Creole dishes, the only place to find true recipes is in Louisiana (or in the kitchen of a Louisiana native).

For more Louisiana related articles, click here.