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Thread: All things Cajun

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    All things Cajun

    Most folks have probably heard that the word ‘Cajun’ is a bastardization of the French pronunciation for ‘Acadian’. The Acadians migrated from what are now the Canadian Maritime provinces following defeat in the French-Indian War. Many Acadians moved to southern Louisiana and it is in connection with this geographic area we are most familiar with Cajun culture.

    My first exposure to anything having to do with Cajun culture came rather late in life when I had a friend in the service who was from Lake Charles, LA that cooked some jambalaya for the shop one day. The guy worked in the communications center but should have been a cook. I have had jambalaya on several occasions since: at restaurants, other people’s houses, and even bought a recipe book in an effort to replicate it in my own kitchen, but nothing I have tasted has been quite as good or had the same seasoning or taste (I say it’s the seasoning but I honestly don’t know what made that batch unique – had I known he was using secret ingredients I would have asked him what they were at the time). This same guy also prepared on another occasion some sort of sausage dish (no, I don’t know what it was, we did more drinking than talking as I recall) that was mighty delish too.

    Do you like zydeco? I do. Zydeco music is a fusion that is strongly influenced by traditional Cajun music styles with its’ heavy use of accordion, fiddle and syncopated rhythms. If you enjoy listening to Rockin Sidney, Beau Jacques, or Queen Ida, then give Cajun culture its due.

    I’m probably missing a lot of other things related to Cajun culture (is there such a thing as ‘traditional Cajun attire’ for instance?). How about you, are there any restaurants near you that feature authentic (or even non-authentic) Cajun cuisine? Oh, and I have it on good authority that just because something is hot does not make it Cajun.

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  2. #2
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    I too like Zydeco music.

    I want to know why Cajun people have such a strong unique accent. I have not found a succinct answer online.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    One thing I find interesting about the Cajun people is that their ancestors migrated from one of the coldest climates in North America (northeast Canada, I believe) all the way south to the swamps of Louisiana. About as drastic of a change in climate as you can get while staying on the same continent. Were they just like, "eff this winter bullshit" or were there more important social/political considerations for emigrating to the LA bayou?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I am proudly half-Cajun. Yeah, I like me some zydeco. I believe an accordian should have buttons, not keys. I could peel my shrimp and crack blue crabs at the grownup's table when I was six. I can make a roux from white to chestnut-brown (but chicken out at taking it to noir ) I can two-step at the fais do do . I eat my beef stew with rice. My little brother's name is Bronier, after my Cajun grandfather.

    My mom can make one hell of a crawfish etouffee, though her gumbo is meh. Her crawfish bisque is awesome. She was born and raised in Napoleonville, parish seat of Assumption Parish.

    Strotsky, the thick and sometimes not so thick Cajun accent is largely a product of the Cajuns being an isolated people until the days of Huey Long. A person tends to speak in the manner of their parents and if everyone you know speaks that way that is the way you will. My grandparents tried to Anglicize their kids, so my uncle (who stayed to run the sugar plantation) spoke with a great Cajun accent, but his sisters all spoke like Southern Belles. My mom will slip into a Cajun accent when she talks with other Cajuns.

    In "The Big Easy," Dennis Quaid did a pretty good Cajun accent, sounded like my cousin Steven. And the sleazy lawyer in the movie was based on Pappy Triche, who went to school with my Mom. It was really funny when they would run into each other socially. My mom was so embarrasssed to know him, and Pappy sensed it, I think. He would always call her "Sissy," her childhood name.

    The best Cajun food is found of course in the homes of the Cajuns. But for the best Cajun restaurant food, go to Henderson or Lafayette. Baton Rouge has good Cajun food. The worst Cajun food is found in New Orleans.

    Probably the most famous Cajuns are Justin Wilson and Governor Edwin Edwards.

    Man, now I am hankering for some boiled crawfish, corn on the cob and red potatoes. You throw a whole garlic in the water and cook it good and that garlic will spread like butter. Wash it down with a couple cold Dixie beers. Top it off with rum-laced bread pudding.

    Hilldweller -- some Cajuns were run out of Canada for refusing to swear alleigence to the King of England, though they would swear at him. Some went back to France, then came to Louisiana after (my people), some came directly from France, and some came from Canada directly after expulsion.

    Maister] Zydeco is Cajun influenced but also Afro-American influenced. Cajun music is different - tends to be slower, often sadder and not as rockin'. I like both.
    Last edited by otterpop; 25 Jan 2012 at 6:52 PM.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I stopped in Lafayette once at a restaurant with some friends and was blown away by the food. We shared a bunch of stuff, including alligator tail. Man, it was fantastic. Glad to hear I was indeed in the right place (to be fair, I was with a guy that grew up in Lafayette, so the restaurant, the name of which escapes me, was not just a shot in the dark).

    I recently got a nice CD of older Cajun music from the library and copied it all. Can't recall the artists' names, but its the real deal - field recordings mainly from the 1950s and 60s. I love it. And its not zydeco (though I like that sound, too).

    That's about the extent of my Cajun experiences. Except that I have a French friend (from France) for whom I played some recordings of folks speaking Cajun and she was so amused she practically fell ont he floor laughing. "That's French" she confirmed "but I have no earthly idea what they are saying!" And she's a French teacher! She was fascinated by the linguistic drift that had occurred. Pretty cool.

    Thanks for the 411 Otterpop! Very informative.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Before an interview for PD in Lafayette I read Evangeline. It did not help me get the job. Actually I turned down the interview thinking it was too far away. My bad.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I too like zydeco. It's fun. When my kid, now 18, was little, we used to dance around the house to zydeco; wish I'd thought to tape that!

    I don't eat crawfish or seafood but according to RJ, I make a pretty good gumbo (chicken and sausage, he adds shrimp to his bowl). I have never been to Cajun country, so I'm pretty clueless, otherwise.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    One of the best meals I remember at a restaurant was a crawfish etouffee in a place across the big lake from New Orleans.


    Had a neighbor who came from Lake Charles, LA and they would bring back boudain (sp?) sausage and share a big meal with us. Spicy good I tell ya.


    Hey beach_bum, there's a cajun restaurant in downotwn capital city that's decent. Might want to give it a try sometime. Wish I could have lunch there today just for a taste.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Planit View post
    One of the best meals I remember at a restaurant was a crawfish etouffee in a place across the big lake from New Orleans.
    Was it perhaps Morton's in Madisonville? Along the lazy Tchefuncta River? They make some of the best gumbo around. Pretty much eveything there is primo.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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  10. #10
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    What irony - I just read that a well-known zydeco band is playing a free concert not far from me this summer.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    My mom lived in Louisiana when she was young and after meeting and marrying my father, my family all moved to Slidell for a few years back in the 80s. It was probably the best place to live as a child. Block parties every weekend. Crab and shrimp boils. Hurricanes and playing Huck Finn with blow up rafts after floods. Pretty good stuff.

    I cannot say I remember much beyond the neighborhood. I was only 7 when we moved. My dad still cooks some of the best etouffee and gumbo though, and I can make a pretty mean roux.
    Occupy Your Brain!

  12. #12
    Around here, it's called New Orleans styled food-same thing. Yes we have plenty of those type of restaurants plus people who have their family recipies. We even have the bakeries. Add to what's already been mentioned, red beans and rice and dirty rice. Boudan is a pretty spicy sausage, but we also have cajun sausage. The crawdads, potatoes, carrots, corn, etc is called a crawfish boil. A lot of the local organizations use them as fund raisers. Those are only during the spring/early summer. Po Boy sandwiches with gator, shrimp, oysters or whatever are pretty good, but really filling.
    Last edited by Whose Yur Planner; 26 Jan 2012 at 2:15 PM.
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TerraSapient View post
    My mom lived in Louisiana when she was young and after meeting and marrying my father, my family all moved to Slidell for a few years back in the 80s. .
    I grew up west of Slidell, in the burbs between Covington and Madisonville. Not in Cajun Country, but definitely a short jaunt west and south.


    I miss the food and my family. But not the heat.

    And it's Carnival Time. Mardi Gras is Feb 21st!
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

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