Cajun vs. Creole
ONE CAN EXPECT
a fair amount of smack talk between teams at a gumbo competition. But Tookey Hebert, a former sugarcane farmer and festivalgoer from New Iberia, had a few fighting words from the whole region. “You’re not gonna get a better gumbo than Acadiana,” he said. “New Orleans doesn’t have good food like here. It’s for drinking and cutting up.”
Hebert was just delivering playful jabs, of course, though the differences between Cajun country cooking and Creole city dishes shouldn’t be underestimated. Gumbo cook-off chefs often cited a lack of tomato in Cajun gumbos as compared to New Orleans-style gumbos.
According to Sara Roahen’s excellent book Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2008), Creole gumbos are also thicker and lighter in color than the Cajun variety. Like many matters of the heart (and belly) in a place with as rich a history and collection of cultures as Louisiana, the definitions can be as murky as the dish.