The Free Man Soft Opens With Some Semantics Issues

John Jay Myers has swung the doors wide on The Free Man, his new Cajun cafe & lounge in Deep Ellum. His mission:  combining a bit of Bourbon Street with a nightly live-music venue. Menu items: etouffee, jambalaya, gumbo, boudin, alligator, and more. Sounds great to us, but the Cajun vs. Creole distinction seems to have some people in a huff.  The general consensus: Bourbon Street/New Orleans=dignified Creole, while western Louisiana=wild & wooly Cajun.

I’m guessing you have a lot to say about the hair-splitting (or cavernous) distinction. I do so love a debate.


  • it really isn’t hair splitting. creole and cajuns are two totally different lineages of people who settled at different times and now live in the same geographic area.

    creoles came before it was the US and are a mix of spanish/french, native american, african american. creole cooking comes from all the different influences. for instance, spanish paella became creole jambalaya. sometimes spicy, but more more or less spice than what you see in any of the influences.

    cajuns are straight up french that mainly lived in the rural areas. much less varied than creole cooking – french-inspired humble “home cooking” with the ingredients that could be found in the swamp. and its almost always spicy.

    its not just fancy v. unfancy – creole has a signficantly broader range of intl influences.

  • Creole Queen

    Right-o, Jon. Cajuns made a pit stop in Canada before coming down to Louisiana, too bad they didn’t bring with them Poutin. Cajuns use a lot of rice in their dishes and you typically don’t see as much acidic or tomatoes in true Cajun food.

  • Jasper Russo

    Gumbo is the line in the sand in this debate. Put tomatoes in your Gumbo and its Creole.

    Jasper Russo
    New Iberia, Louisiana

  • sausage on a stick

    He’s a brave soul opening any kind of restaurant in Deep Ellum at this current time. Good luck Sir! I have a feeling you may need it.

  • Beda

    My mother was from Louisiana and she was Cajun (maiden name Fruge) or as all my many many relatives referred to themselves, coon asses. Jonfromtjs gives a good delineation of the differences between creole v. cajun. No tomatoes in my mother’s gumbo. And yes Creole Queen, Cajuns do eat a lot of rice; in my memory, there was never a supper served where my mother didn’t cook a pan of rice. Where people in Dallas ate cornbread, we used rice (with greens, red beans, etc.).