Counties in Louisiana are called parishes because originally the region was divided into segments by the Catholic Church, and the name stuck.
Cajun (pronounced CAY-jun) is a French derivative of Acadiens, who migrated in large part to Louisiana from the Canadian provinces in the mid 1600s.
Creole (CREE-ole) comes from the Spanish criollo, who were mainly descendants of Spanish as well as French settlers emigrating throughout the New World before settling mainly in the Louisiana territory.
Cajun food is generally considered more of a rural Louisiana cuisine involving boiled crustaceans, etouffees, jambalayas and fried seafood preparations. Creole cuisine is often associated with French-style cooking combined with other European flavors as served in many New Orleans restaurants. However, Cajun and Creole dishes are frequently offered on the same menu.
Mardi Gras (MAR-dee Graw), which is French for “Fat Tuesday,” is world famous for its raucous celebration of Cajun culture. This year the zany parades and hard partying in New Orleans and outlying cities will begin Feb. 15 and culminate on Fat Tuesday, March 4.
For information about Mardi Gras, the places visited in this article and other Louisiana destinations, visit www.crt.la.gov.