Nothing is black and white in New Orleans, whether you’re talking food, music, politics or history. Visitors might find talk of Creole cuisine confusing - what is it exactly? Is it the same as Cajun? Both styles of cooking share French roots and many of the same ingredients. Beyond that, it’s a matter of country style vs. city style, rustic and hearty fare vs. rich, sophisticated preparation.
To understand Creole cuisine, first understand its roots. Creoles were city folk originally from Europe who settled in New Orleans. Primarily French and Spanish, Creoles hailed from wealthy families and brought their own chefs from Madrid, Paris, and other European capitals.
These chefs adapted classic cooking techniques to incorporate unfamiliar ingredients like mirliton, crawfish, pompano and snapper. Add into the equation the culinary influence of the enslaved Africans who served in these households, the influence of Choctaw Indians and immigrants from Ireland and Germany and a diverse gumbo indeed emerges.
The bastions of Creole cuisine, restaurants that have served visitors and locals in New Orleans for decades, if not centuries, are woven into the very fabric of New Orleans culture. These are places where dinner is an experience not to be rushed. Dress up a bit and sit back and relax, you're about to savor a seminal New Orleans experience.