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New Orleans & Louisiana Cooking: Classic New Orleans Recipes

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fais do-do     
Sicilian Immigrants Meet Creole Cooking     
all about gumbo     
Special - Chef John Besh's Louisiana Shrimp and Andouille over Grits

by Mark Vogel

Cajun and Creole are cooking terms that are freely tossed around in contemporary food circles.  Where does Cajun-Creole come from, and how did it affect New Orleans cooking in specific, Louisiana cooking in general?  The history of Cajun and Creole cooking is rich and represents a typically American (though regional) way of adapting to both the available foodstuffs, as well as adapting to the mixed immigrant heritage of the Louisiana.  It is this mix that has made New Orleans one of the major food cities in the US, and its cooking the envy of the country.

The history of Luisiana (Cajun-Creole) cooking begins in Acadia.  In 1604 the French colonized Acadia, the region surrounding present day Nova Scotia. Disputes with Great Britain over the sovereignty of the territory quickly arose.

Over the next two centuries control of Acadia shifted between the French and the British, highlighted by interminable armed conflicts, political haggling, and treaties.  Finally in 1785 the British had the upper hand and forced the Acadians from their homeland.The Acadians then migrated to Louisiana where successive translations of their name produced the term 'Cajun.' Cajun cooking, a hearty and rustic mixture of French and southern US influences, relied heavily on pork fat and spices. Creole, the other major New Orleans culinary force, was a fusion of French, Spanish, Caribbean and African cuisines. It was differentiated by a greater use of butter, cream, and tomatoes, and was considered more refined.

New Orleans is known for transforming legendary dishes into newfound classics. Bouillabaisse, the famous fish stew from the Provence region of France, was a forerunner to gumbo, a Creole favorite. Jambalaya, the Cajun version of paella, is a mixture of any number of meats, such as chicken, sausage, shellfish, duck, ham, etc., with rice, vegetables and seasonings. Creole or red jambalaya includes tomatoes while the Cajun style does not. Either way, it is a spicy and robust dish that epitomizes the soul of New Orleans.

New Orleans Chefs & Classic New Olreans Food

The skill of New Orleans' chefs doesn't cease at revolutionizing timeless classics. They invent masterpieces of their own. New Orleans originals include 'po boy' sandwiches, muffulettas, oysters Rockefeller, beignets, and Shrimp Creole. Here's one story of the birth of a New Orleans classic:

Owen Edward Brennan opened Brennan's Restaurant in 1946 in the French Quarter of New Orleans and it remains a New Orleans icon to this day. Members of the same family also own Commander's Palace, an equally notable New Orleans culinary landmark. In the 1950's New Orleans was the major port of entry for bananas from Central and South America. The story goes that in 1951 Mr. Brennan asked his chef Paul Blange, to create a dish featuring the tropical fruit. Chef Blange rose to the challenge and concocted the classic Bananas Foster. It was named for Richard Foster, a friend of Brennan and regular patron of the restaurant. It remains the most popular dish at the restaurant to this day. Each year Brennan's utilizes over 35,000 pounds of bananas for the world renowned dessert.

read more about New Orleans & Louisiana cooking:

The History of Creole-Italian Cooking: Sicilian Immigrants Meet Creole Cooking          

fais do-do     all about gumbo


Classic New Orleans (& Louisiana) recipes:


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