Sense of Place: The Flavors and Ingredients of Louisiana

Like Florida and Alaska, we felt that the Cajun and Creole cuisines of Louisiana deserved a mention all their own. Here you see a blending of Native American, French, Spanish, and African influences that results in a regional flavor that is as unique as it is mouth-watering.

Cajun and Creole are actually two very distinct cuisines. Simply put, Cajun is country food while Creole is the food of the urban centers. Cajun cuisine grew from the Acadians, a group of French settlers who migrated from Canada and applied their own established culinary traditions to the regional Louisiana ingredients. Their food tends to be simple and hearty.

On the other hand, Creole cuisine relies more heavily on old world traditions, combining classical European cooking methods with American ingredients. This food tends to be spicier, more formal, and more refined.

Here are some of the major ingredients used in both cuisines. Next week, we'll talk about how they're used in dishes and some special cooking techniques that were developed here.

Fruits
Bananas
Oranges
Pineapple
Strawberries
Blackberries

Vegetables and Starches
Okra
Red Beans
Tomatoes
Corn
Sweet Potatoes
Rice

Meat
Pork, especially as tasso (seasoned smoked ham) and in sausages like andouille, boudin noir, and boudin blanc
Chicken
Alligator
Wild game

Seafood
Shrimp
Oysters
Clams
Crayfish (...er...crawfish!)
Crab
Catfish
Perch
Grouper

Extras
File Powder - used as a thickener
Creole Mustard
Cayenne
Garlic
Pecans
Vanilla
Chocolate
Honey
Coffee
Chicory
Rye Whiskey

What else would you add to this list?

Related: Sense of Place: Southern Food and Cuisine

(Images: Flickr members gentlemanrook, IanL, and Old Shoe Woman licensed under Creative Commons)

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