French province of Acadia (today's Nova Scotia and surrounding regions)
was settled in the 1600s by French colonists, but the area became
a British possession soon afterwards. In 1755, as war neared between
France and England, the British authorities demanded that the Acadians
renounce their Roman Catholic faith and swear allegiance to the
Crown. The Acadians refused and the mass exile that followed is
well known to all who have read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Evangeline".
migration of the French Acadians to Louisiana was neither smooth
nor immediate. Many were shipped to the New England colonies, others
to the West Indies or back to France, and many wandered for 20 years
before learning that they were welcome in the predominantly French
territory of Louisiana. Here they established small farms along
the Mississippi River, Bayou Teche, Bayou Lafourche and other streams
in the southern part of the region. Fishing and trapping villages
were established in the swamplands. Cajun (the word is a corruption
of the original French pronunciation of Acadian--A-ca-jan) Country
today lies within a triangle whose base is the Louisiana coast and
whose apex is near Alexandria in the central part of the state.
The triangle contains 22 parishes and the region's principal city,
Lafayette, is the unofficial capital of "Acadiana".
cooking may be a first cousin to the Creole cuisine of New Orleans,
but there is none other quite like it in the world for the imagination
of its dishes or the artistic robustness of its seasoning. Favorite
Cajun dishes include jambalaya, gumbo, turtle sauce piquante, andouille
sausage, boudin (a pork and rice sausage), cochon du lait, soft-shell
crab, stuffed crab, a hundred shrimp dishes, crawfish etouffee,
crawfish bisque, crawfish pie, and dozens more.
Cajun music can be lively or melancholy - and sometimes both at
once. The traditional instruments are fiddle, accordion and triangle,
and those still dominate (although drums and guitars have found
their way into Cajun bands in recent years). Like the spoken language
of the Cajuns, the lyrics of their songs are part French, part English.
The themes are universal, love (lost and found) and the beauty of
their land, but the melodies and phraseology are unique.
farmers, trappers and fishermen, today's Cajuns occupy virtually
every occupation and are the backbone of the state's oil and gas
exploration and production industry, particularly offshore. When
oil was first discovered in the North Sea more than 5,000 Cajuns
with experience working on oil rigs in the open sea were employed
to drill the first wells and to provide training.
with its food and music, the major trademarks of Cajun Country are
pirogues (canoes made from a single cypress log), Spanish moss,
alligators, swamps, bayous and "Cajun Cabins".