8 Classic Cajun Dishes That'll Give You a Real Understanding of This Food

Even if you've never been to New Orleans, there's a good chance that you're already aware of the feel in this lively city. And it's not only because of Louis Armstrong or Mardi Gras, or even the several television shows and movies that have taken place here. It's because of the food. Rich with spices and fresh flavors, the tastes of the Crescent City are as distinctive as its historically ornate streets. And a lot of the credit has to do with its Cajun roots.

The Acadians, who came to Louisiana in the 18th century after the British exiled them from Nova Scotia, are largely credited for creating Cajun food, which isn't to be confused with its Creole counterpart. While Creole dishes reflect a worldly influence tied to West Africa, the Caribbean, and Western Europe, Cajun food highlights the best of the bayou: Its abundance of seafood is mixed with a ready supply of vegetables, and everything is tossed into one pot so that the community can all eat together. Sure, it can be spicy. But the key to Cajun cuisine is its layered flavors and sense of comfort.

We collected the eight classic Cajun dishes that deserve more than just your acquaintance. From more well-known options like gumbo and jambalaya to lesser-known favorites like etouffée and boudin, these meals will provide a keen culinary understanding of New Orleans and Louisiana as a whole. All you need to do is dig in.