Cajun Foodways

C. Paige Gutierrez, Author, Barry Jean Ancelet, Foreword by University Press of Mississippi $35 (149p) ISBN 978-0-87805-562-3
This well-focused study of ``the relationship between Cajun food and Cajun ethnic identity'' reveals the still-strong link between Cajuns and their natural environment. Although this link is important for the preparation of all Cajun foods, like boudin and gumbo, it is epitomized in crawfish. In one chapter, ``The Meaning of Crawfish,'' Gutierrez shows how the outdoor ``crawfish boil'' of dozens of pounds of live crustaceans for family and friends validates the ``Cajuns' belief in their environmental competence.'' It also promotes a sense of unity among participants as they eat from a communal serving place. In addition, it demands intimacy between diners and their food, as they break open the crawfish body and either gnaw or suck on it for its meat, fats, and juices. As immigrants assimilated into American culture and the country moved away from an agrarian ideal, so the links between food, land and culture wore thin, leaving only vestiges like church-sponsored ham and oyster roasts or Maryland crab feasts. Like many ethnographic studies, this book captures the last or most distinctive representative of a once more common practice. As such, it is a useful, well-researched contribution to food and ethnic history. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-87805-563-0
Open Ebook - 174 pages - 978-1-60473-602-1
Open Ebook - 174 pages - 978-1-62103-174-1
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