The history of Cajun spices is as rich and varied as the history of Louisiana. Cajun cooking comes from the native French-speaking Acadian descendants inhabiting Louisiana and parts of other Southern states. Like the area it comes from, Cajun flavor is spicy, rich, and really, really flavorful! This style of cuisine also borrows from African and Native American styles of cookery. A lot of people don’t know that the typical Cajun food was developed by extremely poor people. Refugees and farmers used what they had readily available to feed large families, which is one reason that rice is a staple in most Cajun dishes. Adding rice to a stew could stretch the food so that there would be plenty to eat for days. Rice is still added to Cajun food, even if it is for the love of the flavor, and not for necessity.
Since Cajun country is so close to the Gulf of Mexico, seafood is a main protein in most dishes. Favorites are crawfish, catfish, crabs, and oysters. Seafood was accessible and available, as there were a lot of fishermen. Cajun dishes almost always consist of three vegetables referred to as the “Holy Trinity:” bell pepper, onions, and celery. Parsley, bay leaves, and scallions are commonly used to season food, as well as garlic and cayenne pepper. Gumbo, a staple dish across all cajun kitchen tables, takes its name from the West African and Caribbean name for okra, which is often another main ingredient in many dishes.
Cajun food, despite its reputation, is not necessarily spicy hot. Cajun spice blends are often richly flavored without heat, although some cajun spices will certainly burn you! At Slap Ya Mama, we carry a selection of Cajun Seasoning and hot sauces ranging from original which has a pleasant moderate heat, to HOT, for folks who like the burn. For ways to use our cajun spices and blends, check out our recipes section. For the families who may not be Cajun through and through, we do have dinner mixes available with the seasonings already added so that you can experience the full flavor of the deep south no matter where you are!
In the late 1800’s, Sicily endured some rough times, causing many natives to leave the Italian Island. Sicilians took ships to the major ports of the United States, with many staying in the country’s second-largest port, New Orleans. Living on an island meant many Sicilians made their living as fishermen, and their diet reflected this. Being close to the sea is one of the reasons so many Sicilians didn’t move further inland.
The Sicilians brought their culture and cuisine with them upon immigration, particularly an Italian-style tomato sauce. Just as she absorbed the French and Spanish before them, New Orleans absorbed the Italians. New Orleanians took the idea of Italian-style tomato sauce and mixed it with roux, the flour-and-grease base for sauces. Over time, the classic “red sauce” became “red gravy,” called that to distinguish it from the “brown gravy” New Orleanians made for generations. To make the distinction between traditional cuisine and the modified style of Italians raised in New Orleans, some restaurants and restaurant reviewers began to refer to the modified style as “Creole-Italian” cooking.
An obvious homegrown Italian contribution to the cuisine of the Crescent City is the muffuletta, a hearty sandwich of salami and provolone topped with a distinctive olive salad. Muffulettas, found at delis across the country, originated at Central Grocery on Decatur St. in the Quarter, a store that is still selling them to this day. Another great example of Creole-Italian fusion is the change that happened to the classic Italian recipe for scampi. Since there were no scampi here, Italian cooks used the plentiful local Gulf shrimp instead. This dish evolved into a new dish: the spicy, buttery and misnamed “barbecue shrimp”. The dish spread to restaurants and homes and is now one of the most famous New Orleans dishes.
Slap Ya Mama is a big fan of the fusion between different cultures and our array of spices and sauces are excellent at bridging that gap. Add Slap Ya Mama Original Blend Seasoning to your favorite Italian dishes to create Creole-Italian fusion in your own kitchen or check out some of the recipes we have created. Let us know some of your favorite Creole-Italian fusion recipes in the comments!
In Louisiana, we love hot sauce. Hot sauce originated in the early 1800s and is believed to have gotten its start in Cajun cooking, and now many selections of all-natural hot sauce come in different levels of spice and flavor. Food experts think that our love for hot sauce is all in our head, saying that spicy food does not actually cause any physical harm to a well-functioning digestive system. Our brain contains chemical molecules and excites the pain receptors on your tongue that are linked to the sensation of temperature. A study from the 80’s demonstrated a connection between enjoyment of roller coasters and a passion for spice and discovered that thrill seekers were more likely to enjoy spicy foods. If you’re a thrill seeker looking for that adrenaline rush in your food, here are five new ways to utilize hot sauce.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate is the comforting milky and sweet, delicious beverage that we love when the weather gets cooler, but why not spice it up? Add a couple of dashes of hot sauce to your mug to get an extra kick.
Bodybuilders and people looking to shed fat love this combination because of the low-calorie flavor that hot sauce provides. Adding hot sauce to your eggs gives your protein an extra dash of character and will be a staple in your home.
Popcorn is a popular snack with many varieties such as white cheddar, caramel, and the beloved butter flavor. Try adding a drizzle of hot sauce over your popcorn during your next movie night.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Selena, you’ll remember the scene where Jon Seda douses his pizza with hot sauce. Sometimes, the tomato sauce isn’t enough of a kick.
Hummus is delicious as a dip for veggies, pita, crackers and an excellent spread for sandwiches and wraps. Adding some hot sauce in your hummus will give you the kick that you need to amplify your hummus experience.
Here at Slap Ya Mama, we know that different people like different hot sauces and that’s why we have four different types of delicious all-natural hot sauce. Let us know in the comments what foods you love our hot sauce with. We would love to know more!
The Comfort Food of Louisiana
Locals, transplants, and tourists alike know that Louisiana is known for its delicious and unique cuisine with gumbo being one of the most sought out dishes. Fall in Louisiana is a brief transition separating our warm summers from the relatively mild winters. It would be more appropriate to call this time of year gumbo season. Gumbo is a hearty, stew-like soup that is beloved across Louisiana. This dish crosses all class barriers, appearing on the tables of the poor and the wealthy, alike. The ingredients can vary widely from one cook to the next and from one region of the state to another, but two elements are constant: roux, a sauce thickener that is a mix of equal parts flour and fat, and the trinity, a blend of onion, celery, and bell pepper.
To thicken a gumbo, filé (sassafras leaves ground into a powder) or okra can be added. There are no set rules as far as the primary meat, although the most popular versions of gumbo are either chicken and sausage based or seafood based. Gumbo is often cited as an example of the melting-pot nature of Louisiana cooking. The name itself is derived from the West African word for okra, suggesting that gumbo was originally made with okra. Dr. Carl A. Brasseaux of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette found in his research that the first documented references to gumbo appeared around the turn of the 19th century. Gumbo has influence from many different cultures including Choctaw, French, Cajun, Creole, and African. The stew-like soup is viewed as a mixture of all cultures and influences in one pot that everyone is bound to enjoy.
Walker & Sons has formulated an alternative to preparing your favorite Cajun dishes. When it comes to gumbo, many families take a full day out of their schedule to make this dish perfect. In 2017, it’s difficult to find the time to devote to this dish. Slap Ya Mama has perfected our dinner mixes so that you and your family can enjoy easy cajun dishes. In just minutes and with little effort, you can have great tasting, stove cooked gumbo for the entire family. Just add your chicken and sausage or seafood, bring to a boil, let it simmer and serve it.
“To some, the mix of Asian and Cajun may sound bizarre but to people in South Louisiana, it feels like the next perfect step into culinary bliss. “
In the mid 1970’s after the fall of Saigon, a large wave of Vietnamese made their way down to New Orleans. There are a few reasons that made the incoming Vietnamese feel as if this could be the perfect place to call home. The top reasons were the very familiar subtropical climate and the large Catholic population in the New Orleans area. Yes, most of the Vietnamese in South Louisiana are Roman Catholic and were brought here by Catholic Charities. The Vietnamese community now makes up nearly 3% of the total population in New Orleans.
As the Vietnamese started into the local work force, they began to work in a variety of businesses. Now the majority of the population is in the restaurant and seafood industry. Vietnamese cuisine was heavily influenced by the French from the get-go, so the transition to Cajun was a no-brainer and the wave of fusion cooking has been steadily growing. It seems as if you can’t look for a recipe without seeing some type low-sodium fusion recipe or something titled Casian hot wings. The locals enjoying this fusion already have a taste for seafood and now most of them have grown-up with the large Vietnamese population, so it is a very comfortable mix. Whether it’s a bahn mi, a Vietnamese po-boy, or a steamy bowl of pho seasoned with low sodium Cajun seasoning that you are looking for, you don’t have to go far. The local New Orleans people seem to love this fusion. The Vietnamese have also taken the beloved King Cake and made it a little better with the best king cake of 2017 award going to a Vietnamese bakery in New Orleans East.
If you are interested in trying a fusion recipe do not hesitate to add a Slap Ya Mama product like our fantastic hot sauce or one of our seasoning blends like the white pepper or low-sodium. You will be pleased!
A History as Rich as the Flavor
Cajun Cuisine, known for its spicy notes and heartiness, is a style of cooking that developed in the South after Acadian immigrants fled Canada in the 18th century. It was developed by a population that lived off the land and has adapted over centuries of cultural influences and geographical changes.
The Acadians were the original French settlers in North America and immigrated to Canada in the early 1600s. It was important that these settlers lived off of what was readily available to them: using meat and vegetables cooked in a thick sauce in a single pot. In 1755, they refused to pledge allegiance to the British Crown in 1755 and more than 14,000 Acadians were deported and made their way to Louisiana.
When they settled in the South, these French-Canadian farmers once again adapted their cuisine to the ingredients that were at hand in the region. Their cuisine evolved to include crab, oysters, shrimp, catfish, crawfish and even alligator. Bell Peppers, celery, and onions thrived in Louisiana’s hot and sticky climate and were a staple in their cuisine known as the holy trinity that Louisiana natives use to this day. Louisiana is known as being a melting pot of cultures and these cultures have influenced the cuisine heavily throughout history. As a result, Cajun food was also heavily influenced by African, Native-American, and Caribbean cultures which, in turn, spiced things up a bit. Garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, salt and red pepper flakes were all incorporated in their delicious dishes.
In the present day, these Cajun recipes have been passed down from generation to generation with slight differences in the recipes from family to family. Slap Ya Mama seasoning is a staple in homes across Louisiana for offering the delicious Cajun blend of spices that takes your gumbo to the next level of flavor with several different options: Original Cajun, Hot Cajun, White Pepper Blend, and Low Sodium Cajun Seasoning. If you are looking for the perfect seasoning blend for your Cajun recipes, SLAP your food with our authentic seasoning blends!
Tony “TW” Walker building toy boxes
Holiday season is always a time of giving and that holds true here, at Slap Ya Mama. Over the past couple of years we have held a toy drive at our annual Slap Ya Mama Christmas Party. Each person attending our party was required to bring a new toy with them for the toy drive. We would then collect all these toys and donate them to our local church. It was a great success and we would usually donate anywhere from 100 to 150 toys to the church, who would then distribute them to those children in need around Evangeline Parish. Everyone was satisfied with the outcome but we felt like we could do something a little more.
This year we have created “Mama’s Toy Box” to help facilitate the gathering of toys for the children of Evangeline Parish. Our father, TW, hand built 11 toy boxes and stamped them with our “Mama’s Toy Box” logo. He and our mother, Jennifer, distributed them to 11 designated locations throughout Ville Platte, LA. The toy boxes will be available to collect toys until December 14th. So please, if you’re in the Evangeline Parish area, pass by one of the listed designated spots around Ville Platte and make a toy donation to Mama’s Toy Box.
We have once again partnered with the First Baptist Church of Ville Platte and they will be distributing the toys to the in need children of Evangeline Parish. Daniel Holsomback, the Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church of Ville Platte, had this to say about the distribution of toys, “Our goal is to help as many children as possible with a dire need. We compile our list of children based on information we receive from the Evangeline Parish School Board Office as well as from some of our own investigation.”
With your donation and the help of our partners, we feel as though we will be able to provide many many children with a joyful Christmas this holiday season. Thank you in advance for your help and we wish everyone the Merriest of Christmases!
Jennifer Walker and Mama’s Toy Box Partners. Look for these toy boxes at the locations below to make a charitable drop off.
Mama’s Toy Box Drop Off Locations:
Slap Ya Mama Cajun Products
1679 West Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
First Baptist Church of Ville Platte
750 West Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce
306 West Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Evangeline Bank & Trust
497 West Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
1311 West Lasalle St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Village De Memoire
1001 N Reed St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Evangeline Parish Clerk of Court
200 Court St#104
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Villle Platte City Hall
126 E Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
5592 Vidrine Rd
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Lemoine & Associates
423 E Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
841 West Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
It’s time for an old fashioned Louisiana Mardi Gras! Fiddles and accordions are blasting, and chickens are being tossed so high you’d almost think they were flying. Costumed revelers who look like they came straight out of medieval history sporting fringed and wire mesh feudal outfits on horseback, chasing chickens and begging for ingredients for a huge communal gumbo. Louisiana Cajun Country’s Courir de Mardi Gras – a tradition that dates all the way back to medieval celebrations in France.
Traditions of Louisiana Cajun Mardi Gras
Outside of the stunningly decorated floats and crowned kings and queens you find in New Orleans Carnival festivities, Cajun Mardi Gras is a festival of French origins and a celebration of amazing gumbo – and it all begins on Mardi Gras Day.
Courir de Mardi Gras – Photo courtesy of cajunzydecophotos
On the morning of Fat Tuesday, costumed revelers take the streets wearing handmade medieval jester dresses sporting capuchons hats from French traditions that mocked nobility in the medieval era, and bishop miters for the Catholic papal state. It was all a way to escape the roles of life on a daily basis and live like you don’t have a care in the world. The hustle and bustle of everyday life was drowned away by the sounds of Cajun bands playing and the smell of delectable Cajun country cooking. When the horseback revelers took the streets, Courir de Gras began.
Courir de Mardi Gras
The main event of Cajun Mardi Gras. Costumed revelers on horseback are led by the capitaine of Mardi Gras in the traditional celebration of Courir de Gras, where they’d travel from house to house begging for ingredients for a communal gumbo that would feed the town. But you wouldn’t just receive the ingredients. You need to work for it – and by work we mean an assortment of rituals that included dancing atop their horses, climbing trees, and making chicken noises. Homeowners would then toss live chickens into the air for revelers to chase and swing around their heads. The horsemen are joined by men riding on chicken wagons and trailers to catch the most chickens for the communal gumbo while offering cold beer and sausage, and providing musical entertainment for homes they passed by. Thankfully, you don’t have to wait for the race to be over before the gumbo is prepared. The food is now prepped prior and during the race while awaiting its last ingredient once the race is over – chicken.
Each town in Cajun country has their own unique way of celebrating Courir de Gras. The towns feature various foods and events that really bring out the Cajun experience you’re looking for. For example, in Basile, you’ll find a courir for the kids held a few days before Fat Tuesday.
Parade and Musical Entertainment
Once the run comes to an end, the Mardi Gras parades soon follow. In Cajun country, you won’t find parade floats featuring intricate gowns or elaborate mockups. You will instead find homemade costumes and handmade decorated floats pulled by trucks rather than tractors. The parades are also accompanied by traditional music featuring Cajun bands playing the fiddle, accordion, guitar, and the must-hear washboard.
Cajun Mardi Gras is definitely a sight to see. If you want to experience something different than New Orleans Carnivale, everyone is welcome to come down to Cajun Country. Spend Mardi Gras this year in Cajun country for an experience you’ll never forget. Just read what National Geographic’s Young Explorer Caroline Gerdes had to say from her experience going from New Orleans Carnival to Cajun Mardi Gras.
Representatives of the popular Cajun food products company, Slap Ya Mama, have been informed by Cox Sports Television (CST) that the NFL will no longer allow the Slap Ya Mama Red Zone in the Saints’ final preseason game because of concerns about the Slap Ya Mama name.
On Tuesday, August 19th, Marc Leunissen, Director of Sales, Cox Media Louisiana sent an email to the advertising representative for Walker & Sons, Inc., Slap Ya Mama Cajun Products, stating, “In light of the domestic violence issues facing the NFL, they have instructed CST pull the Slap Ya Mama logo from our enhancements in the last game, Thursday, August 28…”. It is Walker & Sons, Inc. understanding that Cox Media Louisiana received this communication from the NFL on Monday, August 18th.
The NFL league office followed up with a memo to all NFL teams on Thursday, August 21st announcing that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “has determined that no virtual sineage will be permitted to appear on the playing field or its environs in any NFL game telecasts effective immediately and for the remainder of this preseason…”
The memo cited three concerns as the basis for the ruling, including “Certain advertisers and brands are not consistent with League standards and messaging.”
“We’ve been doing this for three years with no complaints. People who know our brand ‘get it’ but all of a sudden, after three years, the NFL doesn’t. We are really shaking our heads over this one! We’re fun loving and enjoy great tasting food. We also love football, especially Saints football! Maybe they just don’t understand our culture. What a shame!” says Jack D. Walker, Vice President of Marketing, Walker & Sons, Inc.
Walker says “Slap Ya Mama” “refers to a loving slap on the back and a kiss on the cheek to your mama as a thank you for preparing another great tasting dish.”
Slap Ya Mama Cajun Products is owned by Jennifer Walker of Ville Platte, Louisiana and managed by her sons, Jack and Joe. Their father, Anthony “T.W.” Walker developed the seasoning. Jack recalls how the name came to be:
“After much discussion with family and friends, one name stuck with us, ‘Slap Ya Mama’. We were skeptical but then our mother, Jennifer, said, ‘No, it has to be Slap Ya Mama. It’s too good of a name and it really represents our food and culture,’” says Walker.
Walker says the NFL’s decision hurts them because the Slap Ya Mama Red Zone promotion is the company’s biggest advertising commitment of the year, and feedback from customers indicates it is very popular. The company’s Facebook page has more than 100,000 fans from all over the world.
“Our fans are fanatics and big advocates of Louisiana food culture. Our Facebook page is active, with people sharing food ideas, recommending products to friends, and using it as a place to celebrate and share the incredible food culture we have here in Louisiana”, Walker says.
Smoked Pure Pork Sausage
Our hometown, Ville Platte, Louisiana, is known for many things and embodies a Cajun culture unlike any other town in Louisiana. People from all over the world come to Ville Platte to experience our culture, our music and of course our world renowned food. But there is one thing that we are extremely proud of and well known for and that is our smoked meat. We are so well known for our smoked meat that we are considered to be the Smoked Meat Capital of the World.
We smoke pretty much anything and everything here in Ville Platte. From sausage to rabbit, meatballs to neck bones…we smoke it all. Some might say it’s overkill but once they are able to get a little taste of a dish that uses smoked meat, their mind quickly changes and they can never get enough. Cooking with smoked meat truly adds a unique flavor unlike any other and it is so flavorful and so ingrained into our Cajun heritage, I don’t think we would ever be able to cook without the use of smoked meats…or at least we wouldn’t want to.
With smoked meat being such a huge part of our heritage in Ville Platte, we celebrate it each year with a festival. Le Festival de la Viande Boucanee or the Smoked Meat Festival for those who don’t speak Cajun French, is held in June every year and offers visitors a variety of savory smoked meats to try, an incredible lineup of musicians and some of the best times one could have in Cajun country. Meat markets, restaurants and businesses from around the Ville Platte area set up booths at the Smoked Meat Festival each year for a chance at winning the World Championship Smoked Meat Cookoff. This is one of the most coveted titles in the Ville Platte area and isn’t easy to come by considering all of the amazing cooks who enter the competition. The Smoked Meat Festival is something everyone should experience and we hope you have the opportunity to do so one day.
If you ever find yourself in or around Ville Platte, Louisiana, I invite you to experience the smoked meat offerings at any one of the many Meat Markets around town. If you can’t make it to Ville Platte any time soon and still want to experience a little smoked meat from the Smoked Meat Capital of the World then I would suggest trying Teet’s Food Store. They have been servicing Ville Platte for almost 60 years now and like every other Meat Market in town, they offer some incredible smoked meats. They have an online store and can ship some of the best smoked meat to any destination in the USA. Be sure to use coupon code “onlythebest” at Teet’s Food Store and receive 15% off of your order.
Take care and keep having fun in the kitchen!
As today reminds us of much heartache and pain, let us not forget all of those we have lost. Let us not forget all of those brave service men and women who risked their lives to protect and save their fellow Americans, those strangers who looked into the face of death and took it upon themselves to become heroes and let us not forget all of the families who are without that special someone. On this very day, let us honor and remember all of those people with a moment of silence and prayer. As we raise our heads in remembrance, let us not forget how we came together as a united front against evil and that we can never be defeated when we become one…We are the United States of America.
Walker & Sons, Inc.