The history of Cajun spices is as rich and varied as the history of Louisiana. Cajun cooking comes from the native French-speaking Acadian descendants inhabiting Louisiana and parts of other Southern states. Like the area it comes from, Cajun flavor is spicy, rich, and really, really flavorful! This style of cuisine also borrows from African and Native American styles of cookery.
A lot of people don’t know that the typical Cajun food was developed by extremely poor people. Refugees and farmers used what they had readily available to feed large families, which is one reason that rice is a staple in most Cajun dishes. Adding rice to a stew could stretch the food so that there would be plenty to eat for days. Rice is still added to Cajun food, even if it is for the love of the flavor, and not for necessity.
Since Cajun country is so close to the Gulf of Mexico, seafood is a main protein in most dishes. Favorites are crawfish, catfish, crabs, and oysters. Seafood was accessible and available, as there were a lot of fishermen. Cajun dishes almost always consist of three vegetables referred to as the “Holy Trinity:” bell pepper, onions, and celery. Parsley, bay leaves, and scallions are commonly used to season food, as well as garlic and cayenne pepper. Gumbo, a staple dish across all cajun kitchen tables, takes its name from the West African and Caribbean name for okra, which is often another main ingredient in many dishes.
Cajun food, despite its reputation, is not necessarily spicy hot. Cajun spice blends are often richly flavored without heat, although some cajun spices will certainly burn you! At Slap Ya Mama, we carry a selection of Cajun Seasoning and hot sauces ranging from original which has a pleasant moderate heat, to HOT, for folks who like the burn. For ways to use our cajun spices and blends, check out our recipes section. For the families who may not be Cajun through and through, we do have dinner mixes available with the seasonings already added so that you can experience the full flavor of the deep south no matter where you are!