Sunday, September 20, 2009

What is a Cajun? + Bayou Boogie

  • What is a Cajun?

    Between the hills of North Louisiana and the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, lives the Cajun. Among the marshes and the bayous, the tall oaks and whispering moss, he carries on the traditions of his hardy French, Nova Scotian ancestors, les Acadiens, whose deportation and flight from persecution brought them to the lush Louisiana soil over two centuries ago.
    (click to enlarge)
      A Cajun likes fiddles and accordions in his music, plenty of pepper and spice in his food, shrimp and fish in his nets, speed in his horses and boats, neighborliness in his neighbors, and lots of love in his home. A Cajun likes to dance and laugh and sing when his hard week of work is done. And on Sunday, he likes to go to church to refresh his spirit and keep his always sustaining faith.

      A Cajun dislikes people who don't laugh enough, fish enough, or enjoy all of the good things God has given to Cajun country. He doesn't like to be hurried when he's resting, or distracted when he's working. He doesn't like to see people unhappy, and he'll do all he can or give all he has to bring a smile to a face stricken with sadness.

      A link with a proud past, a Cajun is a man of tolerance who will let the world go its way, if the world will let him go his. He is full of great friendliness, and will give you the crawfish off his table, the sac-au-lait off his hook, or the shirt off his back. If he likes you, he'll give you his whole wide world. If he doesn't, he'll give you a wide berth, or the toe of his boot!

      A Cajun can be as stubborn as a mule and as onery as an alligator. If he sets his mind on something, he'll fight an alligator before he'll yield to your opinions. You'd just as well argue with a fence post, as to try and change his mind. He carved out Acadiana, by hand, from the uncultivated swamps and marshes and prairies. He can work as hard and as long as any man.

      But when the work is done and the argument ended, a Cajun can sweep you right into a wonderful world of "joie de vivre" with an accordion chorus, a good gumbo, and a handful of little words, laissez les bon temps rouler! He loves a good time and celebrates with many festivals and a fais do do. He loves to eat and to cook the way his ancestors did so many years ago.

      A Cajun has as many ingredients in his blood as Mama's gumbo, and his virtues are many. He has tolerance for those who earn it, charity for those who need it, a smile for those who return it, and love for all who share it ! He likes to have fun and enjoy life and has the joie de vivre in his soul. So what is a Cajun? All these things and more! 

      Adapted from "What is a Cajun"? - Hamm, 1972

      My favorite festival, Festival Acadiens et Creole, is right around the corner. Here's a little clip that I took
      from atop a picnic table, at last year's festival, just to give you an idea of the good times coming right up! Let the good times roll!



      Eddie Bluelights said...

      Great explanation as the exactly what is a Cajun - thanks Marguerite, my sweet. You know I think I could fit well into that life - my qualities are very similar but I am not a very good dancer and not a very good cook but I love eating and trying to dance, and I could probably watch you dance all night. Will I do? Please say, "Yes" LOL
      Oz is coming on well and part 2 will be posted in a couple of days.
      I'm just working backwards to see your other posts I missed due to work etc - Eddie x

      California Girl said...

      We missed our opportunity to visit the eastern provinces of Canada this Sept because I STILL haven't renewed my passport. I might have learned more about Cajuns had we gone as N.S. was a must stop...Halifax and a couple smaller towns.

      I did not realize the word "Cajun" comes from Acadien. Makes sense. That explains the name of Acadia National Park in ME which is a beautiful place. Nova Scotians must have found it. So, fishing, dancing, laughing, music and all should also be found in N.S?

      You always sound like you're having a wonderful time.

      Katherine Aucoin said...

      That was a great post Marguerite. The words totally captured the spirit of Cajuns. People like to tease and don't understand, but when they come down and visit and experience it for themselves, I believe they wish they were Cajuns too.

      A Year on the Grill said...

      Great post...I feel Cajun now

      Expat From Hell said...

      Tres bien, ma chere Marguerite, tres bien. Just as the north winds are starting to blow through Kansas, I read your post here. Perfect timing. Get me my Tabasco, it's gumbo time...merci beaucoup.


      The Good Cook said...

      Oh my best friend in the world married a Cajun man.. and the good times we have had over the years. This perfectly describes the Cajun reminded me of my loved friends... but what of the Cajun woman?

      K. said...

      We'll get to Festival Acadiens someday. I've been salivating for years over the bands and the food...

      Marguerite said...

      Eddie- If you ever came to Cajun Country, you'd be two-stepping and boiling crawfish in no time. It's all very easy to pick-up if you have a good Cajun teacher. Merci for stopping by, cher! Mais oui, Mr. Hyde! lol

      Cal. Girl- Fishing, dancing, and music are found in Nova Scotia, but it is not of the Cajun variety. Some Acadians returned to Nova Scotia, after the deportation in 1755, and some went to New Brunswick, but most ended up here, after 30 years in exile in France and the 13 colonies. My ancestors were sent back home to France, and then came here in 1785. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Cheers!

      Katherine- My dear fellow Cajun, merci beaucoup for your kind compliments, cher! Glad you enjoyed it.

      Year on the Grill- If I make you feel like a Cajun, then I have accomplished my goal. Sharing the fun in Cajun Country is one of life's greatest pleasures for me! Merci, cher!

      Jeni said...

      Reading more about Cajun life -not only makes me hungry but lonely in a way as I want to visit, get acquainted with folks who do really enjoy life to the max.

      Kat said...

      You made me feel as if I were right there! I am drinking the coffee in my Honorary Cajun cup while reading it!

      Marguerite said...

      Expat- So good to hear from you! Merci for stopping by, and for your kind comment, cher. Not quite gumbo weather here, yet, but soon!

      Good Cook- I should have included a note that said that this applies to both Cajun men and women. Both have the same qualities. Thanks for visiting!

      K.- It is a great festival, and you would love it! They will be broadcasting it live on KRVS 88.7, FM. I will place a link on my blog during the festival.

      Jeni- Thanks for the sweet compliment, cher. We would love to have you visit. Thanks for stopping by!

      Kat- So glad that you are enjoying the Cajun spice package. Which flavor coffee do you like the best? The praline and french roast are my favorites.

      K. said...

      Oooh, I can guarantee that I'll be tuned in!

      Owen said...

      Them Cajuns sound like good folks to me... ! And they speak a bit of French to boot... oui, beaucoup de bon temps à laisser rouler ! Et la musique zydeco !

      PS that praline cake just below here looks positively absolutely and completely scrumptious...

      Elizabeth Bradley said...

      I learn more and more about Cajun's and your neck of the woods every time i visit. I have many French Canadian relatives, I wonder why our ancestors didn't get out of Dodge with the others.

      Babzy said...

      I enjoyed reading this post about Cajun people , they seem so friendly, vive la joie de vivre !

      TechnoBabe said...

      Very informative and fun. When I think Cajun, that is what I think, FUN. I am interested in some of the food on your blog. Your blog does remind us that Cajun is not just about food, it is the spirit that makes the Cajuns.

      Eddie Bluelights said...

      So you'd rather have my Mr Hyde eh than my Dr Jekyl - hmmm how interesting!! Any more of that and I shall have to take a cold shower! LOL