CAJUN-CREOLE FOOD WONDERS
The 5-minute Guide to
Learn the wonders of Cajun – Creole cooking
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A little Po Boy History
To start off Po Boy's are traditional submarine hero's from Louisiana. A typical Po Boy will consist of
either fried sea food or meat, on a baguette of French Bread similar to Italian. The toppings on a Po
Boy include things like lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, pickles and onions are optional. Those Po Boys
that are non seafood tend to also have mustard on them. It is up to the customer to request either hot or
regular mustard. Hot mustard is generally courser and darker in texture , while regular mustard is
usually the standard yellow variety.
One popular lunch stop in New Orleans that serves Po Boys called Mothers Restaurant on Poydras
Street uses shredded cabbage instead of lettuce on her Po Boys. So there are variations of toppings
There are quite a few stories claiming the credit of the Po Boy. I will re-tell a few now. The first is one
where a New Orleans restaurant owned by Benny and Clovis Martin. The Martins were former street
car conductors. In 1924 there was a street car strike against the company in which the Martins served
their former colleagues free sandwiches for the 4 months strike duration. It was the restaurant workers
who jokingly referred to the strikers as “poor boys” or in Louisiana dialect “po boys”. Soon the
sandwich was called that as well.
Another story of the Po Boy's origin is in the book “The Art of the Sandwich” by Jay Harlow. He
suggests that the name “Po Boy” comes from the french word pour boire meaning peace offering. This
idea came from when men would come home after staying out all night bearing a peace offering called
an Oyster Loaf to their wives. It is the Oyster Loaf that was the peace maker.
Another story crediting the origin of the Po Boy is that the name came from a sandwich shop in New
Orleans. The reason being was if someone was a new customer and bought a nickel beer they would
also get a sandwich for free. This was called a poor boys lunch. After a while it just meant the
It is also said that the name Po Boy comes from all the local sandwich carts in local neighborhoods in
Louisiana in the 20's and 30's. The carts would offer beef and pork sandwiches but if you were poor
and only had a nickel they would soak the bread in the meat juices and give you a meatless sandwich.
Thus again the term Po Boy for those sandwiches was used.
There are many other stories that claim credit to the origin of the Po Boy sandwich. The Po Boy still
has a large impact on the daily diets of people in the state of Louisiana. It is eaten in that state more
than any other dish for lunch.
Are the Cajuns and Creoles The Same?
Many times people hear the words Cajun or Creole and think they mean the same thing. In truth these
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are two separate cultures that migrated to the same part of the United States. They are two distinct
cultures that live in the same region of the United States primarily Louisiana. Because both ethnic
groups live in the same area there are times where their cultures overlap and there are times when they
Creole people were actually the first European settlers that landed in the Louisiana area. They ended up
in New Orleans and the Mississippi plantation region of the South. Many of them were of aristocratic
ancestry and had wealth. These were descendants of French, Spanish and Portuguese Europeans who
made their way to the States to start a new life there.
The Arcadians who settled in Louisiana from the West Coast of France (primarily Normandy and
Brittany) first settled in Nova Scotia in 1604. In 1705 they hit the Louisiana shore after being booted
out of Nova Scotia by the British. They came from poor and peasant ancestry for the most part and
worked with their hands. They settled in the Bayous and prairie regions of Louisiana.
Because of the area in which the Arcadians relocated to as they evolved to Cajuns they still remained
pretty isolated. They relied on fishing, trapping and hunting for their food sources. The area they live in
is known as Arcadiana. Creole people on the other hand were part of the City of New Orleans French
Population. They resided in that part of New Orleans called “The French Quarters”. Cajun culture is a
countryside culture and Creole is Cosmopolitan. The Cajun culture stayed isolated in the swamps while
the Creole culture integrated itself in the many ethnic groups that made up New Orleans.
By the middle of the 19th Century however Creole came to mean those people of “Black” “Mixed” or
White but Non Anglo Saxon Ancestry. Creoles of color or those free persons of color (not slaves)
became their own ethnic group. Those that were half white had many legal rights and privileges like
the white people at that time. In reality they occupied a space between those “black slaves” and white
people many who owned slaves as well. This is how the term “Creoles of Color" came to mean people
of mixed ancestry. There were those who considered themselves not of mixed ancestry and Black
creoles. These are those of primarily “African American Ancestry”. In the past there was animosity
between the Creoles of Color and those African Americans who considered themselves “Creole” as
well. It was primarily due to the separation of the two from slavery based on color and privilege. Today
however both see the importance of their common ancestry and are striving to keep Creole culture
The White Creoles or French Creoles as they are called are considered those who are born from white
European ancestry. During the Civil war those affluent white creoles also suffered economic ruin and
many married Cajun's and assimilated into the Cajun culture as well.
Basic Cajun and Creole Cooking Techniques
Both Cajun and Creole Cuisine use the same various techniques to cook their dishes with. Both are two
distinct cultures in Louisiana. Cajun people originally are from the French Arcadians who landed in
Louisiana in 1705 after being evicted by the British from Nova Scotia. The Creole people are originally
the French, Spanish and Portuguese that landed in Louisiana and made their home there. The Creoles
then mixed with the other ethnic groups such as the “Black African Slaves” and even Cajuns as well.
Both Cajun and Creole have roots stemming from the French.
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Here are some of the basic cooking techniques used in the two cuisines.
1. Barbecuing- slow to low cooking technique like “Texas Cuisine” But with Cajun Seasonings;
can involve grilling or baking.
2. Grilling- direct heat on a shallow surface; fastest of the different varieties of grilling which also
include: Charbroiling which is direct dry heat on a solid surface with wide raised ridges;
Gridironing which is direct dry heat on a solid or hollow surface with narrow raised ridges
Griddling-direct dry or moist heat along with the use of oils or butter on a flat surface
3. Braising-combining a direct dry heat charbroil-grill or gridiron-grill with a pot filled with broth
for direct moist heat, faster than smoking but slower than regular grilling or baking; time starts
fast then slows down then speeds up again to finish.
4. Baking-direct and indirect dry heat in an oven or furnace; faster than smoking but slower than
5. Boiling-As in boiling crabs, crawfish or ship in seasoned liquid
6. Deep Frying-
7. Etoufféé- cooking a vegetable or meat in its own juices, similar to braising but in New Orleans
they call this “smothering” (Southern cuisine uses “smothering” also with a gravy)
8. Frying- also known as pan frying
9. Injecting- Using a large cooking syringe to infuse seasonings deep inside of meats through
incisions made in them. This is a newer technique but is used all across Cajun Country.
10. Stewing- also called “fricassee”
Cajuns also deep fry turkey or oven roast Turduckens (which are combinations of deboned Turkeys
with deboned ducks inside of them and debone chickens inside the duck.) So turduckens have all three
birds one inside the other. This is a more recent addition to Cajun cuisine as is blackened fish or
chicken and also barbecuing shrimp in the shell. All these are not traditional Cajun cooking.
Beignets were brought to Louisiana by the French in the 18th Century. The word Beignet has interesting
enough though origins from the Celts. It comes from the Celtic word “Bigne” meaning to raise. It is
also a derivative of the french word for fritter.
Beignets are fried pieces of dough that has raised yeast in it. After they puff up while frying, when
brown they are removed from the oil and either sprinkled with sugar or frosted. They are like sweet
doughnuts without a hole in the middle. For years beignets were actually round balls that were frosted
with mocha icing. It is the beignet that gave way to the fried doughnut that is also popular today.
In New Orleans the Cafe Monde still serves Beignets and Cafe au Lait as it did in the late 1800's. Since
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1862 Cafe Monde has been serving Beignets and Coffee to people. The famous Cafe au Lait is actually
dark brewed coffee with chicory and hot milk. Chicory was originally added to the brew in order to
stretch the amount but people liked the smooth taste it lent to the coffee so it became part of the recipe.
Here is one of Many type of Beignet recipes you can make.
1 1/2 c. warm water (110 degrees)
1 pkg. dry yeast
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, room temp.
1 c. evaporated milk
7 c. flour
1/4 c. veg. oil
Oil for deep frying
optional to add to the batter:
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of cardamom
a sprinkle of nutmeg
*The only other advice would be to add 4 cups of flour initially and work that into the batter really
well, then add 1/2 cups at a time. I ended up only using 6 cups of the flour to make the dough have the
Fillings or toppings (the dough puffs up leaving a nice space inside
In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over water; stir until dissolved. Beat in sugar, salt, eggs and evaporated
milk. Gradually beat in 4 cups flour and the oil. Add remaining flour gradually and beat until a smooth
dough forms. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Roll dough on a floured board to 1/4" thick. Cut into rectangles 2 1/2" x 3 1/2". Heat oil in deep fryer
to 360 degrees. Fry four rectangles at a time for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Keep beignets warm in a 200-degree oven until serving. Just before serving, sprinkle with powdered
sugar. You can also add fillings once they are cooked to the middle of the Beignet like a favorite jam or
No Mardi Gras in Louisiana would be complete without a good old fashioned Kings Cake. This cake
was brought by the French and Spanish Settlers to Louisiana when they originally came there in the
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Traditionally the Kings Cake is a custom that dates back to the twelfth century in France. In twelfth
century France a similar cake was made. It was symbolic of the Three Wise Men bearing gifts on the
twelve days of Christmas. These twelve days were known as the Feast of Epiphany, Twelfth Nights or
Originally the round cake symbolized the route that was circular that the kings took to fool King Herod
who was trying to follow the wise men to kill the Christ child. Inside the Kings Cake actually has a
small doll representing the Christ Baby, or a coin, bean or pea hidden in it. All these things represent
the Christ Child. In 1871 the tradition of picking the Mardi Gras Queen was determined by who found
the hidden prize in the cake. It was and still is considered good luck to find the hidden figure in the
cake. And the person who does find the prize is the one to make the Next Kings Cake for the next
In 1872 the Rex Krewe (Kings Crew) which is a Mardi Gras Organization chose the festivals symbolic
colors which are on the cake. The three colors are Purple for Justice, Green for Faith and Gold for
Here is a vintage 1901 recipe of the 12th night Kings Cake.
8 cups of all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 pound butter or shortening
2 cups whole milk, scalded then cooled to lukewarm
1. 1/2 ounce yeast (2 1/4-ounce packages, or about 4 1/2 tsp)
2. 2 teaspoons salt
3. Candies to decorate
To make the cake take 6 cups sifted flour, and put it in a large mixing bowl. Make a hole in the center
of the flour, and put in a half-ounce of yeast, dissolved in a little warm water. Add the 2 cups milk.
Knead and mix the flour with one hand, while adding the milk with the other. In another bowl, combine
remaining 2 cups flour with the salt; set aside. In another mixing bowl, beat eggs with butter and sugar
until light. Add to dough, kneading lightly with your hands, and adding more eggs if the dough is a
little stiff. Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, then add the reserved flour and salt.
Knead the dough by turning it over on itself three times and set to rise again, covered with a cloth for
about an hour. Take it up and work again lightly, and then form into a ring.
This is a large amount of dough, so it may be divided and baked in two or more King's Cakes. Pat
gently and flatten a little. Have ready a greased parchment paper or silpat-lined baking pan, and set the
ring in the middle. Cover the pan with a clean cloth, and set the cake to rise for an hour longer. When
well risen, glaze the loaves lightly with a beaten egg. Place in 325° oven; let bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours,
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or less if making smaller loaves. Decorate with colored icings and decorator candies, as desired.
Pain Perdu/Pan Perdu
In Louisiana both Cajun and Creole people make Pan Perdu. We call it French Toast. “Pain Perdu”
means Lost Bread. This is because traditionally it was made using stale bread that was about to be
thrown away or lost. The word in french for bread which is “Pan” is changed to how its pronounced in
Louisiana Pain. Now stale bread is an essential in this recipe. Here is a Cajun and Creole recipe of
Pain Perdu for you to enjoy.
Pain Perdu Cajun Style
In this recipe you can traditionally use any style of leftover bread. However it is not recommended to
use sourdough bread.
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 Cup Milk
Dash of Nutmeg
2 Tablespoons Butter
Beat the Eggs and Sugar together add in Nutmeg and Milk, Dip slices of bread in the Egg/Milk
mixture. Fry in the hot butter until brown on both sides. Dust with powdered sugar and then top with
your favorite syrup. ( Traditionally cane syrup or molasses was used. In addition to any local fruit or
jelly that was preserved from a local fruit.)
Pain Perdu Creole Style
Stale french bread was the preferred bread for this recipe. This is not your typical french toast recipe, it
uses an egg custard to dip the bread in.
½ cup of milk
pinch of salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon your typical french toast recipe.
6 thick slices of day old french bread (older is fine as long as you can cut it and Italian bread works fine
too, in fact any crusty bread will work.)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
powdered sugar (optional)
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Preparing the Custard: It's the simple milk and egg custard that's the secret that makes Pain Perdue
special. In a large mixing bowl whisk together your eggs, milk, salt, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and
Slicing the Bread:
Slice the bread into thick slices, at least 1-inch thick and add to the egg mixture. I used a beautiful
whole-grain French loaf, but any French or Italian loaf should work nicely. Slicing at a slight angle will
make for a longer piece of bread. Soaking the Bread in the Custard:
Toss the slices until all the mixture has been absorbed into the bread. Depending on how stale the bread
is this may take from 5 to 10 minutes. The secret to this recipe is to completely saturate the bread. This
is also why thick slices of stale bread is used as thinner fresh bread would fall apart.
Lightly Browning the Bread Before Baking
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large non-stick skillet, over medium heat, very lightly brown the slices in the butter and oil for
about 2 minutes per side. Don't cook too dark as most of the browning will occur in the oven as the
French Toast Bakes.
Putting French Toast in Hot Oven:
Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F. for 10 minutes.
Turning Over the Slices and Finishing the Baking
After 10 minutes remove, turn over and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes to brown the other
After 10 minutes on one side and 5 on the other the custard should be cooked on the inside, and the
French toast will be crisp on the outside. If it looks like it needs more time cook it longer, but be
careful not to cooked very dark as the egg custard may become bitter.
Traditionally it was served with powdered sugar but You can add syrup and or fruit sauces.
Seasoning A New Iron Pot or Pan
Have you ever seen your Grandmother or older relatives use old cast iron cookware? You tell them
throw out that old dirty pan and they laugh and say no way, I can't cook with new pots. Well, that's a
fact for certain types of cuisine. This is especially true of Cajun, Creole and Southern Cuisine. That
black cast iron pot or frying pan is an essential. The thing is that it is purposely made black and old.
That is a process called seasoning. It is the “seasoning” process that makes the food taste so good.
Seasoning is a process that seals the pores of a new pot and creates a non stick surface. The more its
used the more seasoned the pot becomes.
Seasoning a new cast iron pot or pan is quite easy. Here is how it's done. Wash and dry the pot and lid
of the new pan thoroughly. Once completely dry coat the pot and its lead with a vegetable oil. Do not
use a saturated fat because it turns rancid when you store it and makes the food taste bad. (Saturated fat
would be like butter or bacon grease.) Use two tablespoons of vegetable oil to completely coat the pot
and lid. You can use a paper towel to coat the pot and lid.
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The next step involves two things first. One is to preheat the oven to 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.
While the oven is heating up you line a cookie sheet or baking pan that is large enough for the new pot
and lid with aluminum foil. Place the pot on the cookie sheet face down and the lid right side up. When
the oven is heated for 30 minutes you then put the cookie sheet in the oven with the pot and lid to bake.
Leave the pot and lid in the oven for one hour. After an hour turn the oven off. Do not take the pot or
lid out. Leave the oven door closed with the pot and lid in there for another 4 to 6 hours. After the 4 to
6 hours remove the pot and lid. Wipe them down with a clean dry cloth and now they are ready to use.
You can also season new utensils the same way. You wash and dry the new utensils thoroughly. It is
then recommended you put them directly over an open flame for two to three minutes (not the handles).
This removes all the excess moisture. Metal utensils are also porous. You oil them down including the
handles like you would a pot or pan. Place the utensils on a aluminum lined cookie sheet or baking pan.
Pre heat the oven the same way you would for a pot. You leave the utensils on for one hour only.
Remove them when they cool a little they will be very hot, so be careful.
The Muffuletta is one of two national sandwiches of New Orleans. The Muffuletta came to Louisiana
via the Sicilian Immigrants. The origins of the Muffuletta begin in New Orleans in 1906 in the Central
Grocery which is still located in the French Quarters today.
The Central Grocery Store is an old fashioned store that was founded by Salvatore Lupo a Sicilian
immigrant. He ran the store until 1946 when he retired. When he retired his son-in-law continued to run
it. Today the store is still ran by his family members. A grandson and 2 cousins are still there running
the Central Store as their forefathers did in 1906.
The “Muffeletta” is actually a type of round italian bread similar to focaccia bread. A traditional
muffuletta consists of one muffuletta loaf, split horizontally. The loaf is then covered with a marinated
olive salad, then layers of capicola, salami, mortadella, emmentaler, and provolone. The sandwich is
sometimes heated through to soften the provolone. Here is a basic Recipe to serve 4
1 10" round loaf Italian bread with Sesame seeds
1 Recipe Olive Salad
1/4 lb Genoa Salami (Oldani is the best,)
1/4 lb Hot Capicola ( you can use regular Ham.)
1/4 lb Mortadella (San Danielle brand is suggested)
1/4 lb Mozzarella
1/4 lb Provolone
Muffuletta Olive Salad
1 1/2 Cups Green Olives, Pitted
1/2 Cup Calamatta Olives (or Black) Pitted
1 Cup Gardiniera (Pickled Cauliflower, carrots, celery, Pepperoncini)
1 Tbsp. Capers
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3 each Fresh Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/8 Cup Celery, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. Italian Parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh oregano (When I have it in my garden) or 2 tsp. dried
1 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 Cup Pimientos (Roasted red peppers) Recipe follows
1 Tbsp. Green Onions, thinly sliced
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground pepper To Taste (salt may not be necessary)
Crush each olive on a cutting board with your hand. Combine all ingredients. Cover with:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil about 1 - 1 1/2 Cups
Put into a bowl or jar, cover and let the flavors marry for about a week.
Cut the bread in half length wise.
Brush both sides with the oil from your 1 week old olive salad, go a little heavier on the bottom.
Layer half of the Oldani on the bottom half of bread. Then the Mortadella. Then the Mozzarella, then
the Capicola, Provolone, and the remainder of Oldani. Top this with the olive salad. Put the lid on and
press it down without smashing the bread. Quarter it. You've just created pure heaven.
This recipe serves 4
The Similarities and Differences between Cajun and Creole
Although both Cajun and Creole people reside in Louisiana there are some differences that make each
culture stand out. In terms of cooking Cajun cuisine is more rustic as Cajun people are located in the
outskirts and swamp lands of Louisiana. Creole people on the other hand are found primarily in the
City of New Orleans in the French Quarter so their food is considered more of a city type of cuisine as
compared to Cajun.
Cajun people are Arcadians who speak french who originally migrated to Louisiana after the British
kicked them out of Nova Scotia Canada. They reside now in what is called the Arcadiana region of
Louisiana. Creole people were descendants of primarily Spanish, French and Portuguese Europeans
first who mixed with other ethnic groups as they came into Louisiana including the Africans that were
slaves and free at the time and Cajuns. So Creole food is distinct because of the blending of all those
ethnicities into one cuisine. In effect each ethnic group that arrived in Louisiana brought something that
went into the pot so to speak.
Both Creole and Cajun cooking has Gumbo. Gumbo is a food that has a traditional base stemming from
French soup Bouillabaisse. The difference is that Creole cooking incorporated tomatoes while Cajun
for the most part doesn't traditionally. The Spanish brought the spices they used and what they didn't
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have changed the dish Paella into Jambalaya. Even the Germans contributed by bringing cattle to the
area like pigs and chickens which both groups use as staples in their foods. It was the Native
Americans that introduced the early settlers in the Louisiana region to corn and Sassafras both which
are used by Cajun and Creole cooks. The Africans made their contribution with things like “kin
gumbo” or okra which goes into Gumbo. Both Cajun and Creole cuisine uses what is known as the
“holy trinity”. The holy trinity is a takeoff on the French “poix”. It consists of finely diced onions,
celery and bell pepper. In France “Mire Poix” consists of onions, celery and carrots as opposed to bell
peppers. Both also use parsley, bay leaf, green onions or scallions and dried red pepper.
The Cajuns brought their rustic cooking to Louisiana and adapted it to the ingredients available to them
in that area. Its flavorful and simple and is not much to look at. In fact many staunch Cajun cooks
complain about the food that is labeled in restaurants as not being authentic because it looks to refined.
Cajun food is food that is in pots. There are usually three; one is the main course, one is the
accompaniment and the other is the vegetable. Creole food is considered more refined and
sophisticated. This is because of all the blending of cultures and the aristocracy that were originally
called Creoles that came from European backgrounds. They too use local ingredients and incorporate
those extras that the different cultures associated with being Creole brought to Louisiana also.
What's in the Gumbo?
If you been living in the United States, chances are you heard the term Gumbo. Gumbo is a stew or
soup that originates from Louisiana and then migrated throughout the South.
The Cajun people who are from French Arcadian ancestry and Creoles who are from French European
ancestry mixed with the other ethnic groups and formed Gumbo. Cajun Gumbo is rustic as are the
Cajun people who live in the outer regions of Louisiana and in the Bayous. Creoles who live primarily
in the City of New Orleans French Quarter have a hearty version also.
Regardless of the region of the Gumbo; all Gumbos have a strong stock base of either meat or fish,
mostly shell fish, a thickener and uses the holy trinity. The holy trinity is a mixture of finely diced
celery, bell pepper and onion. It may also contain okra from which is traditionally called okingumbo
from which the word “Gumbo” derives.
It is believed that the word “okingumbo” is actually a Bantu word that the African slaves brought with
them as they were taken from Africa and brought to Louisiana. The Bantu word for okra is ki-ngombo.
Other influences to the word “Gumbo” are attributed to the Spaniards who pronounced ki ngombo as
guingambó or "qimbombó. Still another contribution to the word Gumbo came from the Choctaw
Indians who use the word “kombo” which means sassafras. It is sassafras that is a key ingredient when
it is made into a powder. Sassafras powder in both Creole and Cajun cooking is called file powder. It is
also used in Gumbo.
Whether Cajun or Creole a typical Gumbo has some sort of shell fish, poultry and meat from a pork
shoulder. The poultry is usually chicken, duck or quail. Local freshwater shell fish such as crawfish,
crab or shrimp are used. Tasso or Andouille adds the smoky flavor to the dish.
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There are also things that make a Creole Gumbo different from A Cajun one. Creole Gumbo has a
lighter color because the roux which is the thickener is made lighter. Creole Gumbo also uses tomatoes.
Traditional Cajun Gumbo is a dark brown and never uses tomatoes. Creole Gumbo may also use Okra
as a thickening agent in addition to the roux. Both recipes once again use file powder. Some may even
use it as a thickener. Other recipes add it to the Gumbo when it is cooked for flavor.
Experience More Cajun and Creole Cooking recipes in more than 88
pages: Visit http://www.cajuncreole.miracle-superfoods.info
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