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Creole seasoning usually refers to any type of spice added to food that is popular with the Louisiana Bayou culture of the southern US, and has elements of French cuisine as part of its ancestry. A more commonly used term to describe this style of food seasoning in the US is as Cajun seasoning. Both Creole and Cajun cooking terms are used interchangeably, and are well-known for their mixture of spicy and barbecue-like flavors. The ingredients used in Creole seasoning often involve the use of cayenne pepper, hot sauces, and chili powder.
A popular type of Creole seasoning is the Creole marinade, which has many forms, but usually includes strongly-flavored ingredients such as garlic, pepper, and other spicy components. It is used to marinate and season fish and shrimp while cooking, and in popular Cajun dishes such as the rice and meat mixture known as jambalaya. Cajun cuisine involving the use of Creole seasoning of practically any type has been popular in the United States. This is due in part to the promotion of such foods in many cookbooks, and popular Cajun television cooking shows that have been airing since the 1980s.
Cajun cooking has been elevated to the level of fine gourmet dining, though it originally was considered food only the poor immigrant class in the southern coastal regions of the US consumed. This synthesis of the Cajun style with Creole cooking, which can be traced to wealthy plantation owners in the southern US, is also a mixture of two distinct regions of the globe — Africa and the Caribbean. The hot summers of the southern US led these diverse immigrants and classes of people to conduct much of their cooking on outdoor hearths. This has developed over time into the use of Creole seasonings as a common element in the practice of outdoor barbecuing in the US in general.
Another aspect unique to Creole and Cajun cooking is that many dishes are cooked together in one pot. This stems from the fact that Cajun kitchens were originally quite basic in equipment and design. Despite this limitation, Creole seasoning lends additional support to the fact that the cooking style is quite diverse, utilizing a wide variety of meats, vegetables, and flavorings to produce an array of complementary dishes.
In contrast to some of its historical origins in French cuisine where the sauces are prepared separately, the Creole and Cajun culture has learned to mix them in with the main course while it is prepared. From a culinary point of view, this works well because most dishes are based on rice and red beans, which absorb the flavors of creole seasoning as they cook. This keeps the strong flavors from overwhelming the entire dish, as would happen if traditional French, cream-based sauces were used in the same fashion.
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