In the Southern states there are more speciality dishes than you can shake a stick at, and they are all amazing. Folks have been perfecting their local cuisines since the first settlers moved to the area, passing secret recipes down through the generations. In Southern cooking there are certainly techniques and methods exclusive to the region, and that’s where things get interesting. Barbecue alone has at least eight different distinctive styles that separate Texas style from what you will get in the Carolinas and so on. If you went to an accredited culinary school and graduated, you may not walk away with the knowledge for preparing Southern food unless you took a specific course. Basically, things happen a little differently in the South.
For one, food takes longer to cook and the ingredients are more specific and specialized. Creole cuisine, for example, is exclusive to Louisiana and is influenced by Spanish, African, Italian, French, Portuguese and other international cuisines. Creole cooking is a close reflection of classic French cuisine in that is sources ingredients from the immediate area. You might find alligator in your jambalaya and crawdads in your gumbo. These critters are indigenous and therefore, as in any culture, end up in the soup pot. In French cooking, you might find a mirepoix (equal parts celery, carrot, and onion) in a dish. Similarly, Creole cooking would use the holy trinity of celery, green bell pepper, and onion in equal ratio.
Cajun cooking is closely related to Creole cuisine however more rustic. Basically Cajun food is country food and Creole is city food. You also won’t find tomatoes in Cajun food. Although it is easy to confuse the two, if you ask a local they will definitely let you know. This week I wanted to share a Creole recipe that has been on both country and city tables since the 18th century. Cooking a dish like gumbo may seem intimidating to someone from, let’s say California, but it is no more complicated than a nice mole. Remember, when making this dish for the first time: with big flavors come big responsibilities. So, take your time and don’t forget to add lots of love.