Cajun Cuisine Essay

1239 words - 5 pages

Cajun cuisine is a fusion of food from different regions with very rich histories, such as France, Canada, and the southern U.S. It was originated by peasants of French ancestry. These immigrants settled in the “Acadian†region of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia from 1604 to 1654. By 1755, the population of these settlers had grown to about 15,000. They survived on cereal crops such as wheat, barley and oats, and garden vegetables including field peas, cabbage, and turnips. This diet was supplemented by domestic livestock, wild game, and fish. (History of the Cajuns. (2001). www.terrebonneparish.com)Because of increased tensions between the French settlers and the British, the Acadians were forced out of Nova Scotia. This was a long and grueling journey for those that survived. Many of the Acadians were sent first to Maryland, then back to France, and finally to Louisiana where they attempted to reunite with their family members. Because of their strong drawl, the name “Acadian†was transformed to “Cajun†by the English-speaking inhabitants of Louisiana. The Cajuns grew to be a unified ethnic group as a result of their struggles to overcome discrimination as refugees. (History of the Cajuns. (2001). www.terrebonneparish.com)Initially, all incoming Acadian immigrants arrived in New Orleans. They were met by a tepid Spanish government that was eager to relocate the settlers to more rural areas. These included the regions north of New Orleans along the Mississippi River, as well as the prairie lands of Southwest Louisiana. The Acadians newly settled into the river basin soon found difficulty in growing their familiar crops of grain and cool weather vegetables. The heat and humidity required the Cajuns to adapt to a new environment and diet. Assistance from the Spanish government came in the form of corn seed. The prairie was ideally suited for cattle, and successful ranches were soon established in this region, providing New Orleans and the surrounding area with much desired beef.A dual class system emerged with the Acadian settlers, dividing Acadians into the small elite planter class, and the working class farmers; a minor intermediate,â€middle†class existed as well. The elite planters soon adopted slavery, farming large tracts of land. They became successful in farming cotton by the early eighteenth century, which was replaced with sugar by the mid-eighteenth century, and rice shortly thereafter. The planters identified with the “Creoles,†a more wealthy and educated class than the emerging Cajun culture. As farm land became more valued with the profits of cotton in the early part of the nineteenth century, the poorer Acadians in the river valley were forced to sell their land and move into the less desirable unclaimed swamp area. Swamp life was difficult and isolated, but did provide the emigrants...

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