About Creoles along the Gulf CoastFrom the homes of well-to-do aristocrats and those who mimicked their lifestyle, came the Creole way of cooking. To many, Creole is a term associated with Louisiana and rightly so. It was and still is the melding pot of French, Spanish, Italian, Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisine as well as Native American, African and even German food fare. The way of Creole cooking is a more classical style than the peasantry of the Acadian Cajun. These are two distinctly different types of cuisine. From the French Quarter in New Orleans to the county plantations spread along the southern gulf coast evolved our knowledge and understanding of the pre-Civil War Creoles. Since that time, lifestyles have changed but the basis of preparing Creole dishes remains much the same, and that’s a good thing.
In the late 1800′s, Sicilian immigrants brought to the south tomato and garlic and its influence quickly gain acceptance in Creole cuisine. Today, most everyone associates Creole cookery with the tomato. Capers are another flavor enhancer that probably came from the Mediterranean basin. Many non-tomato sauces, like Meunière often use capers to bring about a flavor associated with Creole foods.
The Gulf Coast area, Mobile AL and its surrounding locale in particular, is a large contributor of the Creole culture. Members of one of the largest Creole populations encompassing the northern Delta, dating back to 1756, are descendants of Dr. John Chastang, a vast land owner mostly, and Louison, a slave once belonging to John’s brother, Joseph. Another equally large populated area, south of Mobile, on the banks of Bayou Cogne d’Inde, now called Coden and the area under various names or Oyster Point, Pierre Point and Mon Luis Island, arose in the early 1700′s from a love affair of Jean Baptiste and Marie Huet.
Creoles are the mulatto descendants of the French and Spanish and were all educated under Alabama law. In fact, Creoles, also known as “people of color” were the only free non-whites who legally were of a class separated from the whites and blacks back in the early days of colonization. Some of the well established businesses in the area were owned and run by Creoles merchants in many lines of propriety as well as many being doctors, bankers and private practicing noblemen. They prospered in trades such as carpenters, coachmen and draymen being highly trained. Although most Creole men were of the working class, some more well-to-do than others, their women folks knowledge in the kitchen were all exceptional. The cookery of a Creole family then and now is regarded as one of the most refined preparations of food. Today we enjoy using these ways and techniques, many unchanged from many generations ago.
A Sampling of Recipes
Find all of our Creole recipes in our
Creole Recipe Archives