BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – It’s not just about tomatoes.
“The big controversy about tomatoes in your gumbo, and saying Cajuns don’t put tomatoes in their gumbo people in in the Creole world do and that’s because today it was growing so well in the Creole world and not in the Cajun world,” said Liz Williams, the founder of National Food & Beverage Foundation. “So you grew up without putting tomatoes in because you didn’t have tomatoes.”
Williams said Cajun food is more one-pot dishes because of early Cajuns’ lack of access to a variety of food. Creole food, known as city food, is made with an abundance of crops and spices due to the food originating in New Orleans.
It’s all about geography, she said. Crawfish boils are considered more Cajun because it was all around them whereas in New Orleans it was a shrimp and crab boil.
“In those days it was just Cajun country if you were living there, you didn’t have access to shrimp, maybe river shrimp but not like shrimp or Gulf shrimp,” she said.
Creole dishes, like red beans and rice, are made with a lot of rice, Williams said. Oyster stew, a one-pot meal made with a lot of vegetables, could be considered a Cajun dish.
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Baton Rouge native culinary personality Jay Ducote wrote that the term “Creole” grew to include free people of color and native-born slaves. Creole is a blend of New Orleans cultures including African, Native American, Italian and Spanish. “Cajun” describes the French who settled in what is now Acadiana.
Williams said that boudin is very Louisiana but Ducote says it’s mainly associated with the Cajun tradition called a “boucherie” because that’s where the pig is slaughtered.
Williams said that the differences are starting to erode since everyone is mobile and has access to grocery stores. If she wants a po’boy, she can head to Lafayette instead of driving to New Orleans.
“Today the differences are that differences are much less meaningful. So and so my prediction would be that eventually there would be no differences because the differences now are much more cultural,” she said.