Cajun Definitions



Acadians (uh-KAY-dee-enz) –

descendants of Nova Scotians who settled in Louisiana in the 18th century. Later shortened to Cajun which became synonymous with the food, music and culture of the Acadian people.

Amandine (AH-mahn-deen) –
fish or seafood served with a topping of lemon, butter and toasted, slivered almonds.

Andouille (AHN-do-ee) –
a spicy country sausage used in gumbo and other Cajun dishes.

Banquette (bang-KET) –

Bayou (BY-you) –
a small river or stream with a slow current.

Beignets (ben-YEYZ) –
square donuts covered with powdered sugar, often served with café au lait.

Bisque (bisk) –
a thick, cream-, milk- or tomato-based shellfish soup usually made with crawfish, shrimp, crab or oysters.

Blackened –
spice-coated fish or meat that is seared quickly (but not burnt) in butter in a cast iron skillet to create a crunchy outer coating.

Boucherie (BOO-shuh-ree) –
a community butchering which involves several families contributing the animals, usually pigs, to be slaughtered. Each family processes a different cut of meat, making sausage, ham, boudin, chaudin, chops and head cheese. Each family gets a share of the yield. This was traditionally done in the late fall to provide meat during winter months.

Boudin (BOO-dan) –
a Cajun sausage filled with spicy meat and rice.

Bourre (BOO-ray) –
French for stuffed, it is the name of a Cajun card game which requires the loser of each hand to stuff the pot with chips.

Bread Pudding –
a traditional New Orleans dessert made from day-old French bread. Loaves are broken, soaked in custard, re-baked and often served with a whiskey sauce.

Café au Lait –
coffee with milk.

Cajun –
See Acadians.

Calle (kal-LAY) –
the Spanish word for street.

Calliope –
a musical instrument found on steamboats consisting of a set of steam whistles played from a keyboard.

Cane Syrup –
rich, sweet syrup extracted from sugar cane.

Cayenne (KYE-en) –
a hot pepper that is dried and used to season many Louisiana dishes.

Cher (shair) –
Cajun word for dear.

Chicory (CHIK-uh-ree) –
the roots of lettuce-like vegetable which are dried, ground, roasted and used to flavor coffee.

Cochon de Lait (KO-shon duh-LAY) –
the roasting of a suckling pig over an open fire until the inside is cooked tender and the outside is bacon-like.

Courtbouillon (KOO-bee-yawn) –
a rich, spicy tomato-based soup or stew made with fish fillets, onions and sometimes mixed vegetables.

Crawfish –
a freshwater shellfish resembling a miniature lobster eaten in étouffée, jambalaya, gumbos or boiled with spices.

Crawfish Boil – 
a social event with friends of family to boil up live Louisiana crawfish.

Crème Brulee (BROO-lay) –
French for “burnt cream;” a rich, custard-based dessert topped with a layer of hard caramel created by burning sugar by an intense heat source. It is typically served cold and flavored with vanilla, chocolate or fruit.

Creole (KREE-ol) –
Can refer to a people or a style of cooking, music or architecture.

Dirty Rice –
Rice dish sautéed with green peppers, onions, celery and meat varieties.

Dressed –
a po’boy served with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles.

Étouffée (eh-too-FAY) –
spicy Cajun stew prepared with rice and, usually shrimp or crawfish. The French word meaning smothered.

Fais-Do-Do (FAY-doh-doh) –
Cajun party with music, dancing and plenty of food.

Filé (FEE-lay) –
ground sassafras leaves used to season and thicken gumbo.

Fricasee (FREAK-ah-say) –
a stew made by browning and removing meat from a pan, making a roux with the pan drippings, then returning the meat to simmer in the thick gravy.

Fried Turkey –
Cajun practice of cooking a turkey by immersing it in hot cooking oil.

Garçonnière (gar-sohn-YEHR) –
the bachelor’s quarters on a plantation, usually located behind the kitchen.

Gratons (grat-TOHNZ) –
Cajun word for cracklings, or deep fried pig skins.

Gris-Gris (gree-gree) –
good luck charm.

Grillades (GRIH-ahdz) –
beef or veal round steak simmered in a browned tomato sauce and served over rice or grits.

Gumbo (GUM-bo) –
thick, spicy soup prepared with ingredients such as sausage, chicken, seafood and okra and served over rice.

Gumbo Ya Ya –
everybody talking at once.

Praline (prah-LEEN) –
a candy patty made of sugar, cream and pecans.

Prayer Beads –
garlic braids that hang in the French Market.

Red Beans and Rice –
a New Orleans traditional dish with kidney beans cooked with seasonings and sausage and served over rice, traditionally served on Mondays.

Remoulade (RAHM-uh-lod) –
a cold spicy mayonnaise-based sauce served with shrimp and other seafood.

Roux (ROO) –
flour and oil mixture used to start many Louisiana dishes.

Rue (ROO) –
the French word for street.

Sauce Piquante (pee-KAWNT) –
thick, sharp sauce made with roux and tomatoes that is highly seasoned with herbs and peppers and simmered for hours.

Second Line –
a celebratory dance accompanied by jazz and decorated umbrellas; a south Louisiana tradition at weddings, jazz funerals and other festive occasions.

Shotgun House –
style of house that got its name because you can shoot from the front door straight through the back door of the house without hitting anything.

Streetcar –
New Orleans’ electric street railway system.

Swamp –
a low, freshwater wetland that is heavily forested and subject to seasonal flooding.

Tasso (TAH-so) –
seasoned pork strips that are smoked like jerky and used to flavor dishes.

Trinity –
The seasoning mixture prevalent in Cajun and Creole cuisine: Celery, onions and bell peppers.

Turducken (tur-DUH-kin) –
Cajun dish of a turkey stuffed with a duck that is stuffed with a chicken.

Turduckens (tur-DUH-kins) –
More than one Cajun dish of a turkey stuffed with a duck that is stuffed with a chicken.

Vieux Carre (VOO kuh-RAY) –
French for “old square,” referring to the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Where Y’at –
in some neighborhoods in New Orleans this is how you say “How are you?”

Voodoo –
mysterious religion involving charms and spells that came to Louisiana via the Caribbean.

Zydeco (ZYE-duh-koe) –
a blend of African and Cajun music.


Thank you to Louisiana Tourism for compiling this list!