“Cajun” vs. Louisiana (vs. New Orleans)

Wow – two posts in one day! I feel so opinionated. Yesterday I spoke in class for two minutes flat on what I thought wasMeat pie plate. wrong with the novel Wide Sargasso Sea and also why I thought it was such a great success anyway. I think I’m turning into someone else…

Okay, so tonight is “junk food” night at the Newkirk household. I am making Natchitoches meat pies and french fries. Ah… Lasyone’s… Although mostly when I was at LSMSA (http://www NULL.lsmsa NULL.edu) we got our meat pies from a place called “Leon’s,” which started out as a sort of lunch shack across the street from the LSMSA (http://www NULL.lsmsa NULL.edu) high school building. At any rate, I usually just did meat pies “my way,” but just for kicks I thought that I would look up meat pies on the internets and see how other people made them. What I found compelled me to make this post.

The reason they are called “Natchitoches” meat pies and not “Cajun” meat pies is because they are not, in fact Cajun. I swear. Natchitoches, being the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase (or so my LA history professor told me), was settled before the Acadians came and settled Acadiana (a portion of the state of Louisiana whose parishes, by the way, do not include Natchitoches Parish.) As many people should know by now, just because one is from Louisiana, or even has French heritage and is from Louisiana, does not mean that one is Cajun!

Similarly, just because one is from New Orleans and may happen to have French heritage does not mean one is Cajun. My friend Eric (who is most certainly Cajun) frequently professes to like me anyway, even if my family hails from “too far east”. My snooty New Orleans grandmother frequently asserted that our family was most certainly not Cajun. At our house we frequently had Creole dishes such as gumbo and Creole “barbeque” shrimp, but we hardly ever had etoufee or jambalaya. If you want to make a Cajun angry, imply that New Orleans is Cajun or that Creole is also Cajun. Also, let me know before you do this so I can be safely out of earshot so I don’t have to listen to the lectures and/or beatings.

So just remember: crawfish pies = Cajun, Natchitoches meat pies = not. Thank you.

Oh, and a personal note to all four of you who read this blog: I know that you already knew this. I just have to rant.

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4 comments to “Cajun” vs. Louisiana (vs. New Orleans)

  • Alan

    I love an informative rant as much as the next person. Especially those about Cajun, Creole, and other Louisiana things. I remember in the early days of the internet back when all was wild and text based and I’d meet people on IRC who upon finding out I was from Louisiana would always ask “Are you from New Orleans?” It was like some people didn’t realize there were other places in the state besides New Orleans.

  • Brien

    You know, despite living in Natchitoches for two years and then visiting often, I’ve never had a Natchitoches Meat Pie. I’m a bad giftie. And it’s very true that just because you are from South Louisiana or even have a French-sounding name, that doesn’t make you a Cajun. Heck, the ancestor responsible for all Louques was from Venice, not even France. Of course, I can claim some Cajun heritage from the Lambert side of the family, but still (my other grand parents’ families came from Germany and Sicily). And much like North Louisiana is not like South Louisiana, South Louisiana is not like New Orleans. They are all distincitve regions with their own distinctive cultures. Sorry, I’m a little drunk after realizing that I had nothing to drink except some butterscotch liquor and some Irish cream, thus being forced to drink a very large glass of buttery nipples. Ummmmmmmmmmm.

    P.S. – I have a huge Acadian flag in my office. People think I’m from a foreign country.

    P.P.S. – One time when I was short, I went with my family to D.C. My dad approached a police officer to ask where something was, and the officer asked if we were from Louisiana. When we said we were, he asked us if we drank Community Coffee. How racists (ethicist?) of him – even if we do. Damnett!

  • John Masters (http://jamspeaks NULL.blogspot NULL.com)

    I wish I had a dollar for every time I had to explain all the differences of cultures in Louisiana. I’ve shortened the whole thing to: Louisiana is like two states, north is like Arkansas or Mississippi, south has the cajun culture with Catholocism and cajun food thrown in, and New Orleans is a world unto itself.

    If they want more detail, I’ll fill in the blanks.

    I haven’t had a Natchitoches meat pie in over ten years. Wish I had thought of it when we came to Monroe just after Christmas. I ate too much as is was, so just as well I guess.

    Great post.

  • Michael Hebert (http://creolecajun NULL.blogspot NULL.com)

    Bonjour! Comment ca va?
    I was browsing the net and saw your post. I find it very interesting parce que most of us in Evangeline Parish are Cajuns yet we all have more French Creole ancestry than Acadian. Evangeline is in the heartland of Acadiana. Avoyelles Parish too is considered Cajun yet that parish has even fewer Acadian desecendants than Evangeline. Go figure. Is “country Creole” a possible word? Anyway, I wanted to share that with you. If interested see these sites for more info on the situation in Cajun country:
    http://www.geocities.com/old_time_time/many.htm (http://www NULL.geocities NULL.com/old_time_time/many NULL.htm)
    http://www.geocities.com/bourbonstreet/1781/ (http://www NULL.geocities NULL.com/bourbonstreet/1781/)
    Je te souhaite une bonne journee!
    (I wish you a good day)

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