Jambalaya is one of the staples of traditional Cajun cuisine. Jambalaya – a creole stew where you throw just about any meat, rice, and veggies in a pot and call it delicious – is also one of our favorites here at Razzoo’s Cajun Café. But what’s the history behind this staple of Louisiana cuisine? Read on ---
Where did jambalaya originate?
Made up of both Spanish and French influences, the earliest record of jambalaya in print was in 1837 when it appeared in a Provencal (that’s French) book. In 1849, the word first appeared in English. Credit for the recipe is given to Louisiana, particularly New Orleans, where European culture was a melting pot.
What is traditionally in jambalaya?
Well now that just depends on where in Louisiana you are!
If you’re in Creole country (the area around New Orleans), then jambalaya looks a whole lot like paella. Saffron – a key ingredient in paella - was in short supply in the New World, so Spaniards began experimenting with alternatives. The result was jambalaya, which in Creole cooking uses tomatoes instead of saffron. Other typical ingredients include celery, peppers, onions, chicken, sausage, seafood, and rice.
If you’re in Cajun country, it’s a whole lot simpler. In the swamplands, produce like tomatoes was rare. So the Cajun version relied on whatever onion, peppers, and celery they had, coupled with whatever meat they had, slowly cooked with rice. Typical meat would include chicken, sausage, seafood, alligator, venison, or whatever game was caught that day.
Jambalaya vs. Gumbo vs. Etoufee – what’s the difference?
Jambalaya: Known to be “red jambalaya” with tomatoes or “brown jambalaya” without, jambalaya is cooked with the rice and broth.
Gumbo: Adds oka and file powder, and is normally served over white rice – not cooked with it.
Etouffee: Think seafood dish. Similar preparations, but with seafood only, and again, served over rice not cooked with it.
Have a hankering for some of the best Cajun cooking? Come on in to Razzoo’s today for jambalaya, gumbo, etouffee, and all your Cajun favorites.