April 20, 2020

Cajun Wordology


Start with French, add in a little Acadian French, convert it all into English then throw a bit Acadian French back in, and you begin to get the idea of how our colorful words came into being. Below is just a small sampling of some of our more common Cajun words.

Lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap): a Cajun word meaning “a little something extra.” It can be something as simple as an extra beignet with your order, a second scoop of ice cream added to your cone or even some extra shrimp tossed into your order at a roadside seafood stand. Lagniappe is the tangible reflection of the Cajun’s ingrained sense of hospitality and good will.

Andouille (ahn-do-ee): A spicy country sausage used in Gumbo and other Cajun dishes.

Beignet (ben-yea): Delicious sweet doughnuts, square-shaped and minus the hole, lavishly sprinkled with powdered sugar. Sometimes served with cafe au lait (coffee with chicory and milk).

Boudin (boo-dan): Hot, spicy pork mixed with onions, cooked rice, herbs and stuffed into sausage casing.

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

Cajun (cay-jun): Slang for Acadians, the French-speaking people who migrated to South Louisiana from Nova Scotia in the eighteenth century. Cajuns were happily removed from city life preferring a rustic life along the bayous.

Étouffée (ay-too-fay): A tangy tomato-based sauce. A smothered dish usually made with crawfish or shrimp. Crawfish and Shrimp etouffees are New Orleans and Cajun country specialties.

Fais do-do (fay doe-doe): The name for a party where traditional Cajun dance is performed. This phrase literally means “to make sleep,” although the parties are the liveliest of occasions with food, music and dancing.

Filé (fee-lay): Ground sassafras leaves used to season Gumbo, among other things.

Laissez les bon temps rouler (lay-zay lay bon ton rule-ay): Let the good times roll!

Maque Chou (mock-shoo): A dish made by scraping young corn off the cob and smothering the kernels in tomatoes, onion and spices.

Pain Perdu (pan-pear-do): Means “lost bread;” a breakfast treat made by soaking stale bread in an egg batter, then frying and topping with cane syrup or powdered sugar.