7 Things You Should Never Say To, Or Ask A Cajun
In Acadiana, we take our culture and heritage very seriously. There are a few unwritten rules that if broken could land you in some pretty hot water. To try and help you out, we've put together a list of "7 Things You Should Never Say To, Or Ask A Cajun".
By and large, the food you find in New Orleans is not Cajun food. It's actually quite different from the food you'll find in Acadiana. New Orleans' food is more tomato based, Creole food. Still delicious, just not what we consider to be Cajun food. The difference has been described as Creole food being "city food" while Cajun food is more "country food". If you're confused, just ask the question above and I promise we will very quickly and sternly explain it to you.
Listen to me, do not, I repeat DO NOT ask a Cajun this. If you wind up asking this and the Cajun is from let's say Church Point, you're going to have a serious problem. By asking this, you're basically saying that places like Opelousas, Eunice, Sunset, and Mamou are not part of Acadiana. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, this is one of the most important areas of Cajun and Zydeco culture. Imply that someone from Pecaniere isn't Cajun and you're going to have a very bad day. You've been warned. I've seen a bar fight almost happen over this.
Admittedly, this one is kind of tricky. The overall answer is no, we do not hop in little boats and dodge alligators to get our kids to school. However, the answer can also sometimes be yes depending on the exact part of Acadiana you're asking about or depending on how much it's rained that week. There are times when it rains and it actually would make more sense to have a boat for this on Ambassador Caffery in Lafayette.
So, what's the difference between a Cajun and Coon-Ass? It depends on who you ask. For the most part, calling a proud Cajun a Coon-Ass is a pretty bad insult. If you do it, you might wind up getting into a fight. The difference between the two if you ask me is geography. To me, a Cajun is from Acadiana. A Coon-Ass is a person of Cajun-French roots and culture from North of US 190 respectively. I don't mean that as any sort of slight or heritage denial. I don't think of the term Coon-Ass as derogatory, but just simply as an identifier of where in Lousiana your family is from. However, if you say this, you did get one thing right; we are crazy, and you're gonna love it.
Again, another tricky one that I'll try to explain in less than 2 hours. Voodoo, in the sense you're asking about, is more of a New Orleans style thing. Witch Doctors, Marie Laveau, VooDoo dolls...all that stuff. In Acadiana, it's a little different. In Cajun culture, instead of Voodoo Doctors and Priestesses, we have what is called "Traiteurs", or "Treaters". Think of them as Cajun healers. You'll hear many stories from people about how when they were kids, their parents would bring them to see a Traiteur for things like a skinned knee, sore throat or get some help healing up after staying in the sun too long. Traiteurs use a mix of Catholicism and Voodoo. A Traiteur may have you do things like rub a cut potato on a wart, tie the potato back together and bury it in your yard for a few days to get rid of it. So basically, think of Cajun Voodoo, for lack of a better term, as a more positive, nicer form of Voodoo.
No, if you burn your food, all it makes it is burnt food. For some reason, whenever you see and hear about Cajun food in movies and on t.v. it's always just burned food. The only thing we burn is flour to make our roux, but that's a whole different conversation. I'm not sure when people started thinking Cajun food is burned, but I can promise you it is not.
Hold on, did you really just ask for the salt before you tasted Mee Maw's catfish courtbouillon? You brave yeah! Listen, if you ask to season something a Cajun has cooked before you've even tasted it, you're going to offend them. They may not even say anything and pass you the salt, but you probably won't be invited to dinner again. We put a lot of pride into our cooking and spend years perfecting how to season it. If you think you're going to need salt, trust me you're not going to, but don't ask for it before you taste it.