Nine Cajun Essentials and One Complete Travesty
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So you're not from around here but you've got South Louisiana in your heart and want to put a little Cajun in your soul? We got you covered, sha. Here are ten products to get you started.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
First, you make a roux. Making your own roux isn't hard and no good Cajun cook buys anything in a jar, but this is great for a newbie. Just make sure to peel off the label and wash the jar real good before company comes over and discovers your secret shame. Of course, that's assuming you have any actual Cajun friends. If you're cooking up a gumbo somewhere north of Interstate 10, you probably don't have to worry about it.
If you want to learn how to cook like a Cajun, there's no better teacher than Justin Wilson, we guarantee. He'll show you how to cook like a really real Cajun, for the most part. Then again, if you're cooking any of these meals outside of South Louisiana, you'll probably be buying most of your ingredients at some fancy Yankee grocery store or something. That's okay. Just remember that crayfish is how wrong people spell crawfish and you'll be fine.
We know it says Creole seasoning on the label and there are some pretty significant differences between Cajun and Creole cooking, but that's part of our advanced course in Louisiana studies. In other parts of the world, the secret to making anything "Cajun" is to just sprinkle some Tony's on top of whatever it is you want to lie about. (There's no such thing as "Cajun fries" but if you really want to, you can just toss a handful of frozen crinkle cuts into the deep fryer, then sprinkle a little Tony's on them when they're done and call it a day. No one will ever know.)
This is one of the greatest inventions ever created by the mind of man, but it's kinda fancy for authentic Cajun decor. Sure, it's functional and all, what with the trash can right in the middle there, but it's not exactly traditional. All you really need is a cheap plastic table with some old newspaper spread out on top like an informative tablecloth and you're good to go. Bonus points if you use a Yankee paper, but more on that in a minute.
Before jumping into an actual crawfish boil, we suggest getting in some practice in a safe environment first. This little kid playset version of a crawfish boil is a nice place to start. You won't burn the house down, nobody's gonna gripe that anything's too spicy (whatever that means) and you can reuse the crawfish as much as you need to until you're confident in your skills as regards mudbug cookery. Just don't actually eat the things because they're plastic. We don't feel like we should have to state the obvious, but with the bland, flavorless food you're probably used to, nibbling on a bit of plastic might not seem like a big deal so we thought it might be a good idea to warn you not to do that. You're welcome.
When you're ready to get going, grab yourself a propane boiler set like this one and you're off to the races. We'd suggest some crawfish boil seasoning, but that's a pretty hotly contested topic around here. There's powdered vs. liquid for starters, then you get into the whole brand war over who makes the better whatever and before you know it, it's friend against friend and cousin versus cousin in a holy war of unyielding flavor. You'll just have to sort out what tastes right for yourself, or maybe consult that Justin Wilson cookbook we mentioned earlier. We recommended it for a reason, you know.
Once the crawfish are boiling and your guests are wondering what's next, don't leave them standing around with their thumbs up their behinds. Throw on some music and get dat party started! You might not have heard of Wayne Toups yet, seeing as how you're new to this whole Cajun living thing, but trust us. His music and a few cases of beer will get your party going. After that, just throw on a little Cajun Radio and before you know it, all your friends will be smiling and laughing and shuffling their feet and dancing and somebody better watch the pot or you're gonna have a lot of angry people on your hands when dem crawfish get too done, sha.
While this might seem out of place here, it's really not. Remember how we said the best thing for a crawfish boil is a cheap table lined with old newspapers? Well, here's your solution. Every good Cajun knows better than to read some Northern rag like the New York Times, but we can enjoy desecrating its carpetbagging pages with the delicious juices of boiled crawfish, corn, and taters. Sorry, New Yorkers, but we've seen videos of your hipster chefs trying to do "authentic" Louisiana crawfish boils. You deserve this.
There's not much to say about this one, so you'll just have to take our word. Basically, it's the movie that taught the world it's cool to be Cajun. Featuring bona fide starts like Armand Assante, Robert Duvall, and Will Paton, it'll be the talk of your boil. Once the crawfish are gone and everyone's sitting around with full bellies, pop this classic into your DVD player and tell everybody to hush on up and pay attention. They'll be glad they did.
If all this seems like too much work, you can always cheap out and heat up a can of whatever unholy abomination lurks inside these cans. We take no responsibility for the terrible things unleashing that kind of disappointment does to you, though. A culinary travesty of this magnitude is gonna come with a pretty big therapy bill, for sure. Sorry.