Introduction to the joys of cajun and creole cuisine (2 o

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The so-called "Cajun food craze" that Paul Prudhomme inadvertently launched in the early-to-mid '80s when his nouvelle technique of blackening redfish caught on ended up creating a lot of misconceptions about Cajun food. What we ended up with, all over the country, was a glut of so-called "Cajun restaurants" run by non-Cajuns who had no idea what they were doing, and who served food that actual Cajuns wouldn't eat if their lives depended on it. I once stormed out of a so-called "Cajun restaurant" that had opened in West Hollywood, with out paying for my uneaten and decidedly inedible meal, which included a "gumboquot; that compared poorly to Chef Boyardee's ABC soup.

As I mentioned earlier, blackening is NOT a Cajun technique, as its inventor Chef Prudhomme freely states. It is a nouvelle American technique developed by a Chef who is Cajun, and it was popularized at his Cajun restaurant, but almost nobody does that kind of thing at home ++ the technique produces so much smoke that you need a professional kitchen with an exhaust hood, or you need to do it outdoors. What characterizes true, down-home country Cajun food are fresh ingredients, locally obtained ++ lots of local seafood and vegetables++ and almost always cooked in one pot. For most Cajun meals, even if it's for 50 people, you'll generally see one big pot with the main dish and one pot of rice. But this is not to say that Cajun food isn't changing. Brilliant, innovative Acadiana chefs like John Folse, Patrick Mould, James Graham and others are bringing in other ingredients, techniques, and sophisticated sauces into contemporary Cajun cuisine. They're creating marvelous flavors, and they're not encasing their food in hot pepper either! So before you enter a Cajun restaurant somewhere out of Louisiana, check and see if there's someone from Louisiana in the kitchen. If there is, you're probably OK! Article Copyright 1995 Charles E. Taggart Submitted By SAM LEFKOWITZ On 08-12-95

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