Cookbook:Louisiana Creole cuisine
Louisiana Creole cuisine is a style of cooking originating in Louisiana, originating mainly in the Creole area of the state (the Greater New Orleans and river plantation areas) that blends African, French, Spanish, French Caribbean and American influences. While it is similar to Cajun cuisine in that it has adapted to local ingredients, and despite the overlaps, it differs in its cooking style -- Creole tends to use classical French cooking techniques, whereas Cajun tends to use rustic, provincial French cooking techniques.
The term "Creole" is used differently by different populations in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana. The original meaning of the word, as it was used during the time that Louisiana was a colony first of France and then of Spain, referred specifically to the descendants of colonial settlers. The word "Cajun" refers to people of French heritage who arrived in Louisiana via Canada after the Cajun diaspora from Nova Scotia.
According to the English Wikipedia, Louisiana Creole cuisine is a style of cooking originating in Louisiana (centered on the Greater New Orleans area) that blends French, Spanish, French Caribbean, African, Italian, and American influences. It is similar to Cajun cuisine in ingredients (such as the "holy trinity" of chopped onions, celery, and green peppers), but Cajun cuisine arose from the more rustic, provincial French cooking adapted by the Acadians to Louisiana ingredients. On the other hand, the cooking of the Louisiana Creoles tended more toward classical European styles adapted to local foodstuffs. Broadly speaking, the French influence in Cajun cuisine is descended from various French Provincial cuisines of the peasantry, while Creole cuisine evolved in the homes of well-to-do aristocrats, or those who imitated their lifestyle. Although the Creole cuisine is closely identified with New Orleans culture today, much of it evolved in country plantation estates before the American Civil War.
The Spanish influences on Creole cuisine were in the supreme importance of rice and the introduction of beans and tomatoes. Pasta and tomato sauces arrived during the period when New Orleans was a popular destination for Italian immigrants (roughly, 1815 to 1925). Many Italians became grocers, bakers, cheese makers and orchard farmers, and so influenced the Creole cuisine in New Orleans and its suburbs. The extensive African influence originated with African-Americans who were cooks in restaurants and cafes and servants in prosperous households.
The first French and Spanish Creole cookbooks date back to the era before the Louisiana Purchase. The first Creole cookbook in English was La Cuisine Creole: A Collection of Culinary Recipes, From Leading Chefs and Noted Creole Housewives, Who Have Made New Orleans Famous For Its Cuisine, written by Lafcadio Hearn and published in 1885. The full text and page images can be found at Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project.
River Road Recipes is a classic Creole reference by the Junior League of Baton Rouge; it has been in print continuously since 1958. In addition, The Plantation Cookbook by the Junior League of New Orleans has been in print since 1972. The Picayune's Creole Cookbook was compiled at the turn of the century to assure a cuisine of Creole heritage for future generations; it was reprinted and re-designed on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of The New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper in 1987. The New Orleans Cookbook, by Rima and Richard H. Collin, was originally published in 1975 and still in print; it has been part of every New Orleans cook's library since it was first published.
Older restaurants of New Orleans continue to influence Creole cooking; for example, Antoine's, Galatoire's, and Arnaud's.
Starting in the 1980s, Cajun influence became important to Creole cuisine, spurred by the popular restaurant of Chef Paul Prudhomme. A national interest in Cajun cooking developed, and many tourists went to New Orleans expecting to find Cajun food there (being unaware that the city was culturally and geographically separate from Acadiana), so entrepreneurs opened or rebranded restaurants to meet this demand. The "New New Orleans Cooking" of celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse includes both Cajun and Creole dishes. In his writings and TV shows, Lagasse both draws the distinction between Cajun and Creole and explains where they overlap.
With the rise of Modern American Cooking in the 1980s, a New Creole (also known as Nouvelle Creole or Neo-American Creole Fusion) strain began to emerge. This movement is characterized in part by a renewed emphasis on fresh ingredients and lighter preparations, and in part by an outreach to other culinary traditions, including Cajun, Southern, Southwestern, and to a lesser degree Vietnamese. While the Cajun food craze eventually passed, Contemporary Creole has remained as a predominant force in most major New Orleans restaurants.
- The full text and page images of Lafcadio Hearn's La Cuisine Creole can be found here at Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project.
- The full text and page images of Célestine Eustis's Cooking in Old Creole Days can be found here at Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project.