Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

THE FARMER'S TABLE ; Cajun Fried Okra

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

THE FARMER'S TABLE ; Cajun Fried Okra

Article excerpt

Two things inspired this week's spicy story. A weekend get- together with a friend who lived in Louisiana made me think of some of my favorite Cajun dishes that are perfect for this time of year. And & my garden is still yielding okra, an essential ingredient in some recipes. Cajun cuisine is a style of cooking that originated with the French-speaking Acadian people who were deported by the British from Acadia in Canada to southern Louisiana. Cajuns were Roman Catholic French colonists who, in the 1600s, settled the maritime provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in Canada.

The settlers named the area "Acadia. At their peak, there were not more than 15,000 Acadian settlers. The Acadians were peace- loving people who tried to stay neutral while the French and British were feuding. They refused to take sides and would not engage in warfare.

In 1754, Maj. Charles Lawrence made the Acadians sign loyalty oaths to the King of England, although he didn't have approval of the British government to do this. He also demanded the Acadians adopt the king's Protestant religion, but the Acadians refused to abide by his rules. They became a political and religious threat.

The British government seized and burned their farms, shops and churches and expelled the Acadian families. Some were sent to the West Indies, Newfoundland, Argentina, Uruguay, Haiti, New York, New England and the Carolina colonies, where attempts were made to take the children from their parents and put them to work on plantations.

Others ended up in Louisiana, a colony ruled by Spain. For nearly 20 years, 3,000 Acadians found their way to Louisiana. They settled the swamps, levees, prairies, coastal marshes and bayous where no one else wanted to live. They took jobs that no one else wanted. They were poor and illiterate. Their dialect, culture and customs contributed to their isolation. There was prejudice against them. They married within their own culture.

After the Civil War, Acadians began to marry non-Acadians, and the population became known as "Cajuns.

Following World War II, Cajun veterans managed to get good educations, better-paying jobs and nice homes, and the complexion of Cajun communities began to change. …

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