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Cajun Foodways

C. Paige Gutierrez

Publication Year: 1992

Cajun food has become a popular "ethnic" food throughout America during the last decade. This fascinating book explores the significance of Cajun cookery on its home turf in south Louisiana, a region marked by startling juxtapositions of the new and the old, the nationally standard and the locally unique.

Neither a cookbook nor a restaurant guide, Cajun Foodways gives interpretation to the meaning of traditional Cajun food from the perspective of folklife studies and cultural anthropology. The author takes into account the modern regional popular culture in examining traditional foodways of the Cajuns.

Cajuns' attention to their own traditional foodways is more than merely nostalgia or a clever marketing ploy to lure tourists and sell local products. The symbolic power of Cajun food is deeply rooted in Cajuns' ethnic identity, especially their attachments to their natural environment and their love of being with people.

Foodways are an effective symbol for what it means to be a Cajun today. The reader interested in food and in cooking will find much appeal in this book, for it illustrates a new way to think about how and why people eat as they do.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v

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pp. vii-x

During the 1980$, bigger-than-life chef Paul Prudhomme brought his native Cajun cooking to the attention of the nation by appearing on national television and cooking for heads of state and media celebrities. The excitement generated by his enthusiasm and spicy seasonings brought...

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pp. xi-xv

This book is about the relationship between Cajun food and Cajun ethnic identity. It is not a cookbook, or a nutritional study, or a history of Cajuns or of their food. Rather, it is a description and interpretation of the symbolic aspects of Cajun ethnic foodways, based on field research in...

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Introduction: Louisiana's Cajuns

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pp. 3-33

During the 1980$ Cajun food was a favorite topic of food critics and travel writers. Countless magazine and newspaper articles featured Cajun cooking, and restaurants in New York, Los Angeles, and other cities far from south Louisiana's Cajun country served Cajun-style food to...

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1. What Goes into Cajun Food

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pp. 34-50

How do Cajuns describe "Cajun food"? Not all the foods Cajuns eat are labeled "Cajun." For instance, Cajuns eat steak and baked potatoes, pizza, packaged breakfast cereals, hamburgers, ice cream, and bananas, but none of these is ever described as Cajun food. The fact that a group of...

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2. Cajun Cooking

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pp. 51-68

This chapter consists of a series of descriptions of major Cajun dishes. It is not a complete description of all cooked foods eaten by Cajuns (some of which are not labeled as "Cajun"). Nor is it a "food genealogy" describing the historical origins of various dishes, although I occasionally refer...

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3. Cooks and Kitchens

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pp. 69-76

It is not surprising that professional Cajun cooks like Paul Prudhomme, Enola Prudhomme, John Folse, and others have become high-profile "ambassadors" of Cajun culture. In Acadiana, cooking is a widely held, often performance-oriented skill, and one that is highly valued in both...

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4. Cajuns and Crawfish

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pp. 77-82

The crawfish is the dominant food-related ethnic symbol in Acadiana. It is arguable that the crawfish is the most important of all Cajun ethnic symbols today. Its use as a symbol is ubiquitous, and it is acceptable as an ethnic emblem to a wide variety of Cajuns. Revon Reed, a Cajun teacher...

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5. Catching, Cooking, and Eating Crawfish

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pp. 83-95

Unlike the Anglo-Americans who settled in much of the southern United States, the French who settled in south Louisiana brought with them to the New World a tradition of eating crawfish, which were also eaten by the local Indians (Comeaux 1972:63-65). By the time the Acadian...

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6. The Meaning of Crawfish

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pp. 96-109

How do the foodways associated with crawfish contribute to the efficacy of the crawfish as a Cajun symbol? Foodways such as the crawfish boil, described in chapter 5, underlie the use of the crawfish as a symbol, helping to determine its significance and its success. The crawfish boil, as...

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7. Boucheries, Mardi Gras, and Community Festivals

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pp. 110-120

The crawfish boil is a well known Cajun food-related event, and it is regarded as characteristically "Cajun" by Cajuns themselves, by the regional media, and by Anglo-American outsiders. However, Cajuns hold a variety of other social events that revolve around food and eating, and that...

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8. Cajun Food and Ethnic Identity

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pp. 121-138

Crawfish boils, boucheries and other special food events blend work and play, thus highlighting both Cajun competence and joie de vivre. In addition, at these events ethnic differences between Cajuns and outsiders are clearly evident and ethnic boundaries take on a special relevance...


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pp. 139-146


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pp. 147-149

E-ISBN-13: 9781604736021
E-ISBN-10: 0878055630
Print-ISBN-13: 9780878055630

Publication Year: 1992