Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine VOL 40 No 3 - SUMMER 2016 - Page 11

Gulf Coast Closeup by Vernon Summerlin TERREBONNE PARISH The Good Earth in a Sportsman’s Paradise A bout 65 miles southwest from New Orleans is Houma, the parish seat of Terrebonne Parish. Houma was named for Native Indians known as the Houma people. After many conflicts with other Indian tribes and to escape the encroachment of Europeans, the Houma Indians moved to remote areas in the southern bayous. They settled in present-day Terrebonne Parish during the mid-to-late 18th century. I’ve had the satisfaction of visiting here several times during my career and experiencing the colorful languages, cuisines, and the vast outdoor opportunities that have developed since the Europeans and Africans arrived here. This area became a melting pot of curious cultures, leading to a rich blending that gives the Gulf Coast of Louisiana a unique place among all of our 50 states. It truly is a Sportsman’s Paradise – but that only scratches the surface of the Louisiana Gulf Coast experience. Who’s Cajun and Who’s Creole? The term Creole has many meanings. During the early days of Louisiana, it meant that a person was born in the colony and was a descendant of French or Spanish parents. The term is a derivative of the word criollo, meaning native or local. In present Louisiana, Creole generally means a person or people of mixed colonial French, African and Native American ancestry. Cajun is derived from Acadian. The Acadians were French immigrants living in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (Acadia). The Acadians were exiled by the British during The Great Expulsion of 17551764. Their removal was part of the British military campaign against New France. This was the time of the French and Indian Wars in Canada and the Seven-Year War in the fledging original 13 colonies of the United States. The British first deported Acadians to the 13 colonies and, after 1758, transported additional Acadians to Britain and France. Of the 14,000 or so Acadians living in coastal Canadian region, approximately 11,500 would eventually call Louisiana home. Modern day Cajuns are their exiled descendents. Hearty folks from many backgrounds married into the culture, including Germans, Italians, free people of color, Native Americans and AngloAmericans. Because of their isolation in southern Louisiana they retain a strong culture to this day. As far as the difference in Cajun and Creole cuisines, Creole can be defined as city cooking with influences from Spain, Africa, Germany, Italy and the West Indies combined with native ingredients. Cajun cooking is more of a home cooked style that is rich with the ingredients at hand in the new world the Acadians escaped into. A one pot, hearty meal is typical in Cajun cooking. I learned that one of the differences is that Creole dishes are prepared with butter, whereas Cajun cooking used animal fat. (Pass the bacon, please.) Fishing On one of my fishing visits to Terrebonne Parish, I drove south from Houma headed for Cocodrie to stay at CoCo Marina. The drive was gorgeous, flatland interwoven with bayous and grassy marshes. As far as I could see, there was water and a million small islands on both sides of the road. In fact, Terrebonne Parish is 60 percent water. Cocodrie is a fishing, shrimping and crabbing village south of Houma via LA 56