Jambalaya – Definition

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[juhm-buh-LI-yah; jam-buh-LI-yah] One of CREOLE cookery’s hallmarks, jambalaya is a versatile dish that combines cooked rice with a variety of ingredients including tomatoes, onion, green peppers and almost any kind of meat, poultry or shellfish. The dish varies widely from cook to cook. It’s thought that the name derives from the French jambon, meaning “ham,” the main ingredient in many of the first jambalayas.

Creole Cooking-Definition

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[KREE-ohl] In the 18th century, the Spaniards governing New Orleans named all residents of European heritage Criollo. The name, which later became Creole, soon began to imply one of refined cultural background with an appreciation for an elegant lifestyle. Today, creole cookery reflects the full-flavored combination of the best of French, Spanish and African cuisines. Its style, with an emphasis on butter and cream, is more sophisticated than Cajun cooking (Which uses prodigious amounts of pork fat.) Another difference between the two cuisines is that Creole uses more tomatoes and the Cajuns more spices. Both cuisines rely on the culinary “holy trinity” of chopped green peppers, onions and celery, and make generous use if FILE POWDER. Probably the most famous dish of Creole heritage is GUMBO.

Gumbo – Definition

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[GUHM-boh] The CREOLE specialty is a mainstay of New Orleans cuisine. It’s a thick, stew-like dish that can have any of many ingredients, including vegetables such as OKRA, tomatoes and onions, and one or several meats or shellfish such as chicken, sausage, ham, shrimp, crab or oysters. The one thing all good gumbos begin with is a dark ROUX, which adds an unmistakable, incomparably rich flavor. Okra serves to thicken the mixture, as does FILE POWDER, which must be stirred in just before serving after the pot’s off the fire. The famous gumbo z’herbes (with herbs) was once traditionally served on Good Friday and contains at least seven greens (for good luck) such as spinach, mustard greens, collard greens and so on. The name gumbo is a derivation of the African word for “Okra.”