The French people who settled in the bayous and swamps of Southern Louisiana, often referred to as Cajuns, developed a unique and authentic cooking style. But there is more to the Cajun appeal than just the food. As Southern food expert Linda Carman says in her book, Southern Traditions: 100 Years of Recipes from the Martha White Kitchen, “What we admire-and secretly covet-is their love of good food combined with a zest for life that they proudly call ‘joie de vivre.’”

Main Cajun Dishes

With their appetite for life and food, it’s not surprising that the Cajuns take pride in their love of fiery dishes seasoned with hot peppers and pepper sauce.

  • Gumbo, fricassee, etouffee, and jambalaya vary as much as the cooks who make them and the ingredients available to them. In the marshlands these dishes are more likely to contain seafood; further north and inland the Cajuns will use more beef and poultry.
  • Like other Southerners, Cajuns have always had a fondness for pork and have developed a variety of ways to prepare and preserve it. Originally prepared at home, local grocery stores and meat markets now provide seasoned sausages, such as andouille and boudin; tasso, a seasoned cured ham used for seasoning; and cracklings, the crisp pieces of rendered pork fat eaten as a snack or added to breads.
  • Of course, no discussion of Cajun cooking would be complete without mentioning crawfish, which has become a symbol of Cajun pride.