Mardi Gras is next Tuesday, and if you're planning to do any cooking for the festivities--whether it's a traditional étouffée, jambalaya, or gumbo, or you want to give your favorite burgers, pastas, or casseroles a Cajun kick--it helps to know a few key terms in Cajun cuisine.
Holy Trinity: a combination of chopped onion, celery, and bell peppers that is used as a base for tons of Creole recipes; the Cajun Holy Trinity is typically 3 parts onion, 2 parts celery, and 1 part bell peppers
Filé (pronounced fee-lay): a spicy herb made from dried sassafras leaves that have been ground to a fine powder; typically used in gumbo
Maque Choux (pronounced mock shoe): a mixture of corn, bell pepper, onion, garlic, celery, and tomato braised together and served as an accompaniment
Roux (pronounced rue): flour and fat (i.e. butter, oil, lard, etc) cooked together and used as a thickening agent for sauces, soups, and other dishes; often used in gumbo
Remoulade: a condiment used in Creole dishes, especially seafood; typically has a mayonnaise base or an oil base, along with Creole mustard and the addition of spices, herbs, and sometimes finely chopped vegetables.
Blackening: a cooking technique, typically for fish, shrimp, or poultry, in which the meat is coated in melted butter and a specific mix of herbs and spices, then cooked on a very high heat.
Andouille: a type of smoked sausage, often spicy, used in many Creole dishes
Sauce piquante: a spicy tomato sauce, usually contains the Holy Trinity cooked into it
Brochette (or en brochette): food--typically meat and veggies--cooked on (and sometimes served on) skewers