Mardi Gras, Gumbo, and Zydeco: Readings in Louisiana Culture

By Marcia Gaudet; James C. McDonald | Go to book overview

13
Is It Cajun, or Is It
Creole?
MARCIA GAUDET

In south Louisiana, food and food customs are a very important part of the folklife. The procurement and preparation of food are more than simply necessities of life; they add to the enjoyment and celebration of that life. Though Cajun and Creole children may not know the language of their ancestors and may hear folk tales and Cajun or Zydeco music only at folk festivals, they eat Cajun and Creole food in their homes. They are also likely to grow up with an understanding of the significance of certain foods and food customs in the culture— when certain foods are eaten, how they are eaten, how they are prepared, etc. These traditional foodways seem to be one of the most vital elements of folklife still retained in the Cajun and Creole cultures, and they have become powerful symbols of group identity.

There has been much confusion about the terms Creole and Cajun as used in Louisiana. The term Creole was originally used in Louisiana to designate French, Spanish, or other European people born in the colonies. 1 When the Acadians (Cajuns) arrived, the French Creoles in New Orleans considered themselves aristocrats. They tended to be wealthy, educated, and urban, and they were likely to own slaves. The Acadians were poor, usually not formally educated, and rural settlers. Thus the Creole culture was centered in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, and the Cajun culture developed in southwest Louisiana. The Creoles aspired to haute cuisine while the Cajuns aspired to good “home cooking” with what they

From The Best of Lafayette 1 (1986): 15–16. Reprinted by permission of the author.

-150-

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Mardi Gras, Gumbo, and Zydeco: Readings in Louisiana Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Mardi Gras, Gumbo, and Zydeco - An Introduction to Louisiana Culture vii
  • Mardi Gras, Gumbo, and Zydeco 1
  • 1 - Who's Fooling Whom? 3
  • References 14
  • 2 - Buffalo Bill and the Mardi Gras Indians 16
  • 3 - Worldview, Social Tension, and Carnival in New Orleans 26
  • Notes 40
  • 4 - Mardi Gras Chase 42
  • 5 - The New Orleans King Cake in Southwest Louisiana 48
  • Notes 57
  • 6 - Tradition and Innovation 59
  • References 69
  • 7 - The Creole Tradition 71
  • 8 - The Houmas Speak 80
  • 9 - Some Accounts of Witch Riding 89
  • Notes 101
  • 10 - Folk Veneration Among the Cajuns 103
  • Reference 120
  • 11 - Anti-Clerical Humor in French Louisiana 123
  • Notes 132
  • 12 - Cajuns and Crawfish in South Louisiana 134
  • Notes 148
  • 13 - Is It Cajun, or is It Creole? 150
  • Suggestions for Further Reading on Louisiana Culture 154
  • Notes on Contributors 156
  • Questions and Topics for Classroom Discussion and Writing Assignments 158
  • Index 171
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