Taste of America: Cajun and Creole Cuisine

Marcelle Bienvenu tells the story of south Louisiana 's food and shares recipes for iconic dishes, including gumbo and jambalaya

New Orleans has long enjoyed a reputation for its fine restaurants, including Antoine's, Galatoire's, and Commander's Palace, where one can dine on such delicacies as creamy spinach-topped oysters Rockefeller, sherry-spiked turtle soup, and bananas Foster. Elegant French sauces, like béarnaise, hollandaise, and marchand de vin, are ladled on poached eggs, seafood, meats, and myriad vegetables, giving dishes a refined and opulent style. Venture west of the city to what is known as Acadiana (the 22 parishes-counties-of southern Louisiana ), and you'll find many small towns serving spicy sausages (like boudin), rabbit stewed in sauce piquante, and crawfish étouffée. Here the cuisine is pungent, peppery, and as robust as the farmers, fishermen, and trappers themselves who settled in the area more than 200 years ago.

The difference between the two cuisines of south Louisiana is easily recognized, at least by the locals, who will tell you that the Creole food of New Orleans is city-French and Cajun cuisine is country-French. While each has its origins in the French-style, both have been flavored by many other hands that stirred the pot, including American Indians, African slaves, the Spanish, and West Indians. Along the way, the two cuisines have mingled, sharing available herbs and spices, such as bay leaves and cayenne. Both Creoles and Cajuns make gumbo and jambalaya, but there are as many recipes for these dishes as there are bayous crisscrossing the state.


Chicken, Andouille, and Oyster Gumbo

Crawfish Etouffée

Eula Mae's Chicken and Ham Jambalaya

Oysters Bienville

Trout Meunière, Old Style


Who's Your Mama, Are You Catholic and Can You Make a Roux?

by Marcelle Bienvenu

This book contains more than 200 Cajun and Creole recipes, plus old photos and stories about the author's growing up in the Cajun country of south Louisiana . Recipes include pain perdu, couche couche, chicken fricassée, stuffed mirliton, shrimp stew, grillades, red beans and rice, shrimp creole, and pralines. Who's Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make a Roux? Book Two has a hundred more recipes and additional stories and photos.

La Bouche Creole

by Leon E. Soniat, Jr.

In La Bouche Creole, the late Soniat-a cooking teacher, columnist for The Times Picayune, and radio host who grew up in New Orleans -shares the secrets for the classic Creole dishes found on his family table. He also gives the recipes for the most popular Creole dishes-the ones frequently offered in restaurants. Recipes include crab bisque, turtle soup, sausage and eggplant jambalaya, trout amandine, and oysters Iberville.

Tom Fitzmorris's New Orleans Food

by Tom Fitzmorris

Fitzmorris has been on the New Orleans food scene (writing food columns, hosting radio shows, and issuing newsletters) for nearly 40 years. While evacuated from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, he pulled together a collection of recipes that include both old and new, fancy and plain New Orleans favorites. The more than 225 recipes include shrimp rémoulade, crabmeat cannelloni, pasta with Cajun crawfish cream sauce, barbecue shrimp, and cane-smoked turkey.

Eula Mae's Cajun Kitchen

by Eula Mae Doré and Marcelle Bienvenu

Eula Mae Doré has been cooking Cajun food on Avery Island , home of the McIlhenny family and their Tabasco brand pepper sauce, for more than half a century. Bienvenu spent hundreds of hours by Eula Mae's side in the kitchen capturing the fine flavors of her self-taught cooking. Recipes include black-eyed peas, rice dressing, artichoke and crabmeat salad, fried boudin balls, and seafood boil.

Click here for a history of the two of the country's oldest cuisines

Marcelle Bienvenu was born in St. Martinville , Louisiana , in the heart of Acadiana. Since 1984, she has written the weekly food column Cooking Creole for The Times Picayune of New Orleans. She is the author or the coauthor of ten cookbooks, including Who's Your Mama, Are You Catholic and Can You Make a Roux? (book one) and book two and Cooking Up a Storm, a collection of recipes lost and found after Hurricane Katrina, for The Times-Picayune. In 2009, Bienvenu became a full-time chef-instructor at the John Folse Culinary Institute.


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