Tag Archives: Cajun

Music: Zydeco

Zydeco is a product of Cajun and Creole music, and though born in Louisiana, now has made its presence felt in the national music scene. Uploaded by electricfetus.com.

It’s the ultimate feel-good music from Louisiana Cajun and Creole country. Using the accordion as its featured instrument, Zydeco bands usually have someone playing drums and wearing a washboard vest called a frottoir. After these essentials, just about any other instruments might join in – fiddle, horns, guitars. Whatever the mix, the music is likely to be fast and fun.

Buckwheat Zydeco. Uploaded by lehighvalleylive.com.

Zydeco evolved from Creole music, played by blacks in rural Louisiana for generations. It’s become a mixture of several musical genres, including R&B, blues, jazz, and gospel. The term “Zydeco” became universally accepted as the name of this new style only in the 1950s, when the first recordings of the music were made. The style has grown slowly, and is still primarily a regional sound today.

The Grammy Awards have finally recognized the form’s popularity, and created a Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album category in 2007. (And then, in the great purge of 2011, eliminated this and 30 other categories.) The leading artist in the genre is Buckwheat Zydeco. Here are a couple of his videos that represent the fun and energy of this great American music:

Food: New Orleans Cuisine

Let's face it, someone had to be the first person to eat crawfish, and it wouldn't have been me. Uploaded by cajuncrawfishpie.com.

For those who don’t get to New Orleans often, the area’s two distinctive cuisines – cajun and creole – are often considered one and the same. But no no. Cajun is country-style food, influenced by the city’s French history. Think one-pot dishes, like crawfish étouffée and jambalaya. Creole is cajun’s city cousin, more refined, with both French and African influences. Shrimp creole, gumbo, and much more.

These dishes may be spicy, they may not. They often make use of local seafood, spices, and roux, and they’re hearty, robust, and rich.

Of course, there are other foods that New Orleans has helped to bring to America’s taste buds. You could enjoy po’ boys, beignets, muffulettas, red beans and rice, bbq shrimp, and just about anything made with andouille sausage and crawfish. And of course, bananas foster, a classic New Orleans dessert created by Brennan’s Restaurant, and creole bread pudding with whiskey sauce.

Oh, baby!

Chef Paul Prudhomme. Uploaded by seattletimes.nwsource.com.

Certainly, celebrity chefs have helped carry the gospel of New Orleans cooking. Emeril Lagasse has three restaurants in the city, along with his television productions. And people come from near and far to dine at Chef Paul Prudhomme’s restaurant, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen.

There are any number of Web sites that feature appropriate recipes, but if you want to stay authentic, consider The Gumbo Pages, the New Orleans Cuisine Blog, or New Orleans Online. Then…enjoy!

(By the way, may I suggest that you not start reading the above recipes on an empty stomach…)