Back-country cuisine from the bayous

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

BASICALLY, Cajun cooking is old French cooking that was transformed into a Southern style. It is spicier, with pepper, than other French food. Creole is more sophisticated because Spanish, French, Italian, and other groups settled in New Orleans.

There was a time when Cajun food was thought to be food of the poor people out on the bayous, who ate while dancing to the back-country fiddlers.

But today, Cajun cooking is a ``hot'' cuisine, so to speak.

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This is because of the growing interest in regional American food and also partly because of the national acclaim of Paul Prudhomme, of K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans.

Mr. Prudhomme now markets a line of Louisiana seasonings and has offered them to John Folse to take to Moscow.

``I'll bring my own special seasonings, of course,'' Folse says, ``but I'll take some of Paul's along, too.''

Cajun is very exciting food, because the cooking and preparation methods are different from conventional American food.

The combination of spices is considerably different from that of any other cuisine.

CAJUN GLOSSARY

boudin - sausage such as crayfish boudin. bouilli - beef soup. andouille (ann-DOO-eee) - the most popular Cajun pure smoked pork sausage. beignet - square fried doughnut, no hole. cocodrie - alligator. 'etouff'ee - means ``smothered.'' Can be vegetables or fish or chicken. gumbo - soup made with a roux and fil'e and okra. tasso - highly seasoned smoked ham. mirliton - chayote (gourd) stuffed, pickled.

Other favorites include red beans with salt meat and tasso, butter pecan pie, hush puppies, corn bread, yams, okra, pecans, turtle meat, jambalaya, shrimp 'etouff'ee, crayfish 'etouff'ee, rabbit, alligator, frog legs, yams, and jalapeno peppers.

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