With its cultural roots embedded in Africa, Native America, West Indies, France, and several other European countries, as well as 300 years of immigration, intermarriages of cultures, and colonization, it is no surprise that Creole and Cajun foods have become integrated among modern day restaurants such as Copeland’s of New Orleans in Atlanta. However, Cajun and Creole cuisines are separated the most by their individual histories. Their stories determine the flavors. Depending on whose family you ask, these flavor profiles can be subtle and debatable.
From Creole to Cajun to traditional American fare, Copeland’s has it all!
Tomatoes—amongst other ingredients
Jambalaya is one of the several traditional dishes that are largely argued within families that have long-held recipes over just one basic ingredient: tomatoes. Creole based jambalaya consists of a tomato base, whereas Cajun-style jambalaya goes without it. As a matter of fact, the majority of Cajun cooks today will tell you they would rather fight as opposed to even think about adding tomatoes to their jambalaya.
Although tomatoes might seem like an arbitrary ingredient, they were considered an “exotic” resource made obtainable to the aristocratic society of Creoles in the 18th century. Early Creoles included descendants of wealthy Spanish and French settlers; consequently, they also consisted of African slave descendants. All thanks to the triangle trade among the West Indies, Europe, and Africa, the expanding city of New Orleans introduced and brought a variety of different flavors—like tomatoes—to the city that weren’t available locally. This was an exclusively Creole experience, which is why we can still observe these tiny but important alterations across dishes like jambalaya.
Styles of cooking
Preservation of heritage is the reason why tomatoes are still a debatable ingredient today when it is easily available in neighborhood grocery stores. Modern day Cajun cooks honor and follow the recipes of their family predecessors that put together all the ingredients they could gather into one pot for all to enjoy. Cajun country ancestors were French Canadians that originally came from modern day Nova Scotia, and as a result of British colonist overtake, were displaced to Louisiana. Using resources provided by swamplands, as well as Native American influences and their own French style of cooking, Cajun cuisine was created.
Nowadays, Cajun food is viewed as a “country” mode of cooking because of its presentation and rustic ingredients. This is mainly in part by the early Cajuns resorting to rice, wild game, spices, and seafood to load up their cast iron pots as a means to create hearty and sustainable meals that could be shared amongst plenty.
Knowing the history of both cuisines allows for an easier time in spotting the differences while observing traditional dishes created in modern day restaurants and homes. Copeland’s of New Orleans has several different dishes that pay homage to both cooking styles. For example, Copeland’s Jambalaya Pasta includes traditional Cajun ingredients like smoked sausages (smoke, salt, and a large amount of seasoning used as preservatives for meats in the countryside) and andouille.
A classic sole “à la meunière,”via Finecooking.com
On the other hand, Copeland’s Pecan-Crusted Ricochet Catfish is served with a delectable Creole meuniere sauce consisting of a luxurious and long-established ingredient of early Creoles: butter. These are only a few items guests have as an option on Copeland’s extensive menu at catering events and weekend buffets. If you know anyone who loves Creole or Cajun cuisine as much as we do at Copeland’s, get a gift card for them—and see for yourselves how intense the fight over tomatoes can be!