Clash of Cultures

Carl Walker
Deron Neblett

Speaking off the toque:

Carl Walker, executive chef at Brennan's, 3300 Smith Street, (713)522-9711

Q. What is the difference between Cajun and Creole cuisine?

A. First of all, Cajun is country, and Creole is more of a New Orleans, city style of cooking. You think of it as more refined, more cultured. It has the Spanish and French influences, the butter and cream. Cajun, being country, was cooked by people who had access to more animal products, more animal fats. They also used more spices; they made darker roux. We both use some of the same spices, like filé powder and Tabasco sauce. We both use the "holy trinity" (a mixture of finely chopped bell pepper, celery and onion), but with Creole, we may add more tomato product to it. Paul Prudhomme's is more of a country style with his spice blends. In Creole, we do have a spice blend, but we don't use it as heavily. Cajun has more pot-cooking, although Creole has gumbos as well, but in our gumbo here, I do not use a roux.

Nowadays there is a whole lot of blending going on. Sometimes it is difficult to tell them apart. The only time when the difference would be completely clear is if you went way out in the Cajun country and found a home cook who barely speaks English.

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