Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Yes, Virginia, There Are Creoles

Food critic Alan Richman panned New Orleans cuisine in the November issue of GQ, and while he was at it cast doubt on the existence of Creoles.

Supposedly, Creoles can be found in and around New Orleans. I have never met one and suspect they are a faerie folk, like leprechauns, rather than an indigenous race.
An article in Wednesday's New York Times suggests that there really are Creoles, but identifying one may depend on your choice of definition.
“It’s the name everyone wants to be called but no one can tell you what it is,” said Dickie Breaux, owner of the CafĂ© des Amis in Breaux Bridge, a Cajun restaurant and music spot a couple hours’ drive west of New Orleans.

Louisiana Creole scholars use a textbook definition that transcends race and ethnicity. They say anyone whose ancestors were born in Louisiana during colonial times is a Creole. But Creole also means a genetic mix of colonial settlers, indigenous people and slaves, so it has a racial connotation. In Acadiana, the Cajun homeland in southwest Louisiana, Creole can be code for anyone who is not white. In New Orleans, some use the word to denote people of color with some white ancestry, but it is also claimed by white descendants of the French settlers. [Link]


Fascinating article Chris. The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture states, perhaps the "safest" course is to say that a Creole is "anyone who says he is one." I agree.


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