we cue up our 'Good-Time' music titled "Cajun Cookin'" by Andy Bakke, our
favorite Cajun accordionist, let's sit down to talk about food... about
fun... about family gatherings and other gatherings of Acadian people.
have been doing this for centuries! Way back to the winter of 1605-1606...
before Jamestown, before Québec and certainly before the first days
of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation and their Thanksgiving, the Acadians
were celebrating "L'Ordre du Bon Temp"... As our Cajun cousins say: "Laissez
le Bon Temps roullez! / Let the Good Times Roll!"
Acadian leaders needed to keep morale strong to sustain them through their
winters in Port Royal. So what better way than to organize a party around
food and fun? In first-hand accounts by Champlain and by Marc Lescarbot,
who were among the first Acadians that first winter, we learn that
person (the Chief Steward) had the duty of taking care that all around
the table were well and honourably provided for. This was so well carried
out that, though the epicures of Paris often tell us that we had no Rue
aux Ours (this street, still in existence in Paris, was the street of the
rotisseurs, or sellers of cooked meat). Over there, as a rule we made as
good cheer as we could have in this same Rue aux Ours and at less cost.
For there was no one who, two days before his turn came, failed to go hunting
or fishing, and to bring back some delicacy in addition to our ordinary
fare. So well was this carried out that never at breakfast did we lack
some savoury meat of flesh or fish, and still less at our midday or evening
meals; for that was our chief banquet, at which the ruler of the feast
or chief butler, whom the savages called Atoctegic, having had everything
prepared by the cook, marched in, napkin on shoulder, badge of office in
hand, and around his neck the collar of the Order, ... after him all the
members of the Order, carrying each a dish. The same was repeated at dessert,
though not always with so much pomp. And at night, before giving thanks
to God, he handed over to his successor in the charge the collar of the
Order, with a cup of wine, and they drank to each other."
was given all of the flourishes and ceremony they could muster. Once the
banquet table was set, the Host with staff in hand would elaborately, pompously
and always with great humor announce the menu. Finally, the Host would
command to all: "Let us eat!"
thing for sure, the role of the Host was taken most seriously by those
early Acadians. It was a matter of pride and a matter of honor. Great alliances
were created in this tradition that would serve the future Acadians well,
when some Hosts would take to barter or even bribe the local Indians for
special treats that no one before had ever served!
Acadians were able to procure a wide variety of meats including: fresh
salmon, roast fowl such as mallard duck, geese, partridge and other birds,
roasted venison such as deer, moose and caribou, and other delicacies such
as beaver, otter, bear, rabbit, wildcat, and raccoon. Custom and preferences
change over time. In the new world, beaver was a delicate meat like that
ROYAL HABITATION Storeroom/Winecellar in 1605... Game for the next Acadian
gathering of "L'Ordre du Bon Temps"...
Parcs Canada, Port
Royal National Historic Site.)
the meal and with bellies full, the Acadians would spend the evening by
the fire exchanging stories, jokes and toasts. Finally, at the end of the
evening, the evening's Host would pass the insignia and staff to his successor.
And, the process would begin again for the next evening's fun.
consider the subject of Acadian and Cajun foods, let us not forget the
rich inheritance that we have been given by our ancestors. God bless them!
is no question that food and well-prepared meals are a central part of
any culture and that is especially true for Acadians whether in Nova Scotia,
New Brunswick, Québec or Louisiana. So we're opening this new section
which will focus on food and our customs surrounding food.
are two parts to this section. One, a RECIPE ARCHIVE / ARCHIVE
RÉCETTE which will collect everyone's contributions for Acadian,
Cajun and French-Canadian recipes. Where we can, we will try to classify
each as distinctly Acadian as opposed to Cajun, or as opposed to French-Canadian.
Many of us come from families with mixed Acadian and French-Canadian origins
and often, the foods get mixed up as do the customs. The second section
will attempt to record our Acadian, Cajun and French-Canadian CUSTOMS
AND TRADITIONS. While we focus on Acadian genealogy and history
in our website, here, we will include French-Canadian foods and customs
in this section as a way of knowing which are the Acadian foods and customs
as opposed to the French-Canadian foods and customs. For example, are ployes
Acadian or French-Canadian? Are crètons Acadian or French-Canadian?
How about tortière, six-pâte, etc?
the success of this section will depend largely on you, the family member...
you, the visitor whether you're Acadian, Cajun or French-Canadian.... or
whether you speak or write english or french. I would ask especially those
from the St-Mary's Bay area, from Louisiana and from the heart of the St-John
Valley and of Québec to send us your grandmother's recipes so we
can compare them and find out more about them.
us your recipe and be sure that you include three things:
If you have
a photo which shows the food, we will be delighted to add it to our website.
We will be sure to credit you for the recipe. So start sending me your
Acadian, Cajun and French-Canadian recipes that you have been keeping secret
for so many years. Come on, let's share! We're waiting for you...
whether you think that the recipe as either Acadian, Cajun or French-Canadian,
the list of ingredients, and
the mixing and cooking instructions.