What Is the Difference Between Creole and Cajun?

August 9, 2017


Most people asking this question would likely be referring to food. Ironically, both French-based terms also refer to languages that developed after settlers occupied the southern Mississippi delta region of Louisiana. In the mid-18th century, Louisiana became a melting pot for immigrants; and elements of French, Native American (mainly Choctaw), and African languages were tossed into the pot to melt. Creole is a language that reached America via slaves brought to the region from West Africa. Louisiana Creole French was one of many languages that evolved and spoken in City of New Orleans during the early days. Some African descendants still speak Creole French today.

Cajun French evolved when Acadian exiles, who were French-speakers from The Maritimes of Eastern Canada, settled along the Louisiana plains. As was the case with the Creole languages, the Cajun dialects were highly influenced by the melting pot that now included Irish immigrants. Linguistically, this paved the way for Cajun English or Cajun Vernacular English, which is what many Americans are referencing when they talk about Cajun culture. Born in 1914, a southern American chef and humorist named Justin Wilson became Louisiana's poet laureate. As host of one of the very first cooking shows on TV, Wilson was full of Cajun quips like "I wanna told ya something" or "Twice barreled shotgun".

Cajun French significantly influenced the Cajun English spoken by Wilson and current Cajun comedian Jonathan Perry. Just as the Creole and Cajun languages evolved from different ingredients in the melting pot, so did the popular cuisines of the region. Here's a quote from the Louisiana Office of Tourism, " Creole cuisine is city food while Cajun cuisine is often referred to as country food. While many of the ingredients in Cajun and Creole dishes are similar, the real difference between the two styles is the people behind these famous cuisines." For example, the base of Cajun gumbo is typically bone-in fowl while Creole gumbo most often has a seafood base.

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