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Keeping Real Cajun Culture Alive
September 4, 2008
 

 

A common misperception associates Cajun food and culture with New Orleans. The historical truth is that Cajuns and their culture, defined by unpretentious yet exotically flavored cuisine, originated in the swamplands of the Atchafalaya basin that lies across the southwestern region of Louisiana.

Lafayette is the modern hub of this region, and the city’s Junior League has released the 9th printing of Talk About Good II, a cookbook and geographical lesson about the Cajuns, their lifestyle, and their defining food culture.

The original Cajuns were French descendants who were exiled from Nova Scotia around the year 1753 for their religious beliefs. These people lived as nomads for years until they settled in Acadiana, a land bordered by the Gulf, laced with bayous, and rich in game, seafood and wildlife. Acadians applied their flexibility and ingenious ability to survive, and enjoy life in the process, to their cuisine. Dishes like gumbos, boudin, and all kinds of rich casseroles, which call for everything but the kitchen sink, are the result.

In towns like Lafayette, Arnaudville, Breaux Bridge and Opelousas, the people of Acadiana still celebrate the “joie de vivre” in everything they do. Talk About Good II conveys this outlook with vivid storytelling about traditions and celebrations and the food that is always present.

Talk About Good II features illustrations from internationally renowned artist George Rodrigue, author of The Cajuns of George Rodrigue and the mind behind the infamous “blue dog paintings.” Rodrigue’s paintings for Talk About Good II silently convey the raw characteristics that Acadians embody: their history, their absolute love of life and family, their traditions, pride, and the pleasure they take in calling themselves Cajuns.

Amidst these vivid scenes are the recipes that Cajuns have been making for family, friends, boucheries and fais-do-dos for centuries. Cochon de Lait, Crawfish Étouffée, Boudin, Pumpkin Praline Pie, Squash Pecan Casserole, Couch-Couch, Turtle Sauce Piquante, Baked Wild Duck, and of course a host of gumbos like Wild Duck, Sausage and Oyster Gumbo.

Talk About Good II (ISBN 978-0-935032-50-5; $18.95) was manufactured by Favorite Recipes® Press. It is available from the Junior League of Lafayette: 800-757-3651; www.juniorleagueoflafayette.com. Proceeds from book sales help the League promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women, and improve local communities through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

Since 1961, Favorite Recipes® Press has specialized in helping non-profits and independent publishers from around the nation create, distribute, market and sell award-winning cookbooks. Favorite Recipes Press is an Imprint of FRP Books, Inc. and a member of the Southwestern/Great American Family of Companies. Learn more about FRP Books, Inc. at www.frpbooks.com.

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