CAJUNS WHO WE ARE
To the uninitiated, a Cajun is a crude ignorant backwoodsman who speaks little or no English. He makes his living fishing, trapping or farming a few acres of land and his principal interest are boozing, eating and having a good time.
Perhaps there are such people in Acadiana, but they are an infinitesimal minority and are in no way characteristic of the Cajun people.
Instead, Cajuns have a long and proud heritage on this continent. This heritage began in 1604 when the first French settler colonized Nova Scotia. Much like America's first colonists, they fought to civilize a new world, bringing the culture and language of France to their adopted land.
England gained control of Nova Scotia with the Treaty of Utrech in 1713 and life became unbearable for the Cajuns. As French Catholics living under the rule of English Protestants, the Cajun's found themselves despised and persecuted. Between 6,000 and 7,000 were deported to the American colonies. However, most of these colonies also had laws prohibiting Catholics to live within there borders, so life didn't get much better .
Others sought refuge in the Caribbean or among the Indians of the American wilderness. Others, deported to England, eventually found their way to France.
Refugees from all these groups eventually found their way to Louisiana. There, they founded their own communities. In a climate unlike any they'ed known before, surrounded by plants and animals for which they had no names in their language, the Cajuns created a new language and a new culture. It even became necessary to create a new way of cooking since many of the ingredients they'd known were unavailable--replaced by the abundant seafood and game of south Louisiana. Small, family--owned stores and meat markets still exist in southwest Louisiana in testimony to the impact this had on the lives of the Cajun.
When the Acadiens came into the bayou country from New Orleans, the Indians here could not pronounce "Acadien." Therefore, the name "Cajun" was adopted because it was easier to pronounce.
However, the words Cajun and Acadien do not have the same meaning. The word Cajun applies only to those whose Acadien ancestors came to Louisiana after the eviction of 1755. The broader term, Acadien, applies to all the descendants of the original Acadiens, regardless of where they live. Thus, all Cajuns are Acadiens, but not all Acadiens are Cajuns.
Many thousands of Acadiens live in different parts of the United States and Canada. These are not cajuns. By extension, the title of Cajun is properly applied to those people (regardless of national origin) who have intermarried with Cajuns and have been absorbed into the Cajun culture and speak the cajun language.
Today, historians agree that the culture the Cajuns developed is one of the most unique and impressive in the world. They also agree that the Cajuns have played a significant role in American history as they struggled to survive.
Throughout this rebirth of Acadiana, the Cajuns stuck together. They minded their on business, kept apart from the rest of the world and supported each other.
In the 20th Century, oil brought riches to the Cajuns. Yet even this couldn't change them much.
Today, they are as they always were: fun loving, God fearing, hard working. Over a million of these French--speaking people exist in our country today, a tribute to their determination and the power of the human will.
In spite of the tribulations they've endured, today's Cajuns still maintain a joie-de-vivre and a live-and-let-live attitude which is admired by all who know them. They are ready with a smile, a joke and a handshake for anyone willing to accept it. They'll give you the shirt off their back or the beer out of their glass.
That is who a Cajun is.
CAJUNS and NOT CREOLES
People have long asked me. What is a Creole, what is a Cajun, are they the same, is the food the same, are the cultures the same. No I say, Creole and Cajun are as different as night and day. Also the culture is different. Creoles are associated with VooDoo, and with Cajuns it's Gris Gris. The food is different as well. I will try to explain to you some of the differences between the two cultures.Creole culture is found around the New Orleans area, where as the Cajun culture is found in southcentral and southwest Louisiana.
The only thing both cultures have in common is the fact that both are rooted in France. As far as the cooking goes, it basically comes down to a question of style. Creole cooking is a more sophisticated, city cousin of Cajun cooking. Both Cajun and Creole cuisines were found and brought together by there French roots, livened with spices from Spain, inspired by African vegetables, Caribbeanized by West Indian hands, laced with black pepper and pork by the Germans, infiltrated with potatoes by the Irish, blasted with tomatoes and garlic by the Italians and also touched in a small way by the Swiss, Dutch, Malayans and Malaysians.
What a complex taste!
The Creoles have sauces and delicious soups beyond describing. Their brunches are luscious. The "Haute" (up town) manner of wining and dining reflects the dignified French social groups of Creoles.
Many different courses are also served.
The Cajuns way of cooking is a more simple style, a more home style cooking. All the different nationalities mentioned above also influenced the cajun way of cooking. Cajuns specialize in plain, simple meals which are filling and tasty for country folk. They take cooking and foods seriously and take great pride in them. Appetizers are rare in a Cajun kitchen. Very seldom ,if ever, is an appetizer served since the Cajuns fear it would only ruin their appetite before a great meal. Cajun cooking may be time consuming, but it is well worth what you put into it.
The French from France married with the Spanish and their direct descendants were Creoles. However, many ethnic groups were brought in, diluting the Creole race. New Orleans is the "Heart" of Creole Country.
The Cajun are exiles come to Louisiana from Nova Scotia. The Creoles are the city folks, The upper class French and Spanish. The Cajuns are the country folks. Hard working people who made our own place in Louisiana that is still called Cajun country. Breaux Bridge and Lafayette are the "Heart" of Cajun Country.