A view of an empty street

What it means to be Creole Italian

If you’ve heard of “creole”, you might be able to describe what it really means.

If you’ve never heard of the term, it may be hard to fully understand.

Official definitions of “creole” will state something similar to a culture that is a blend of Spanish, French, Italian, Haitian and Native American.

The port of New Orleans was one of the busiest ports in today’s North America, and operated under French, Spanish, British and American rule. Due to this port city being so useful, many workers and travelers from all over the globe entered New Orleans from this port and settled in the city to start families. The culturally blended communities that originated near this port became “creole”.

There are many definitions and uses for the word creole, but for many New Orleanians it just means local. People, food and music that originates from New Orleans.

Creole Italian New Orleans

    What is Creole Italian?

    Creole Italian refers to the culture of Italians that migrated to New Orleans, and blended with the rest of New Orleans culture. Scicilan culture in the mid-1830s was heavily centered around the citrus trade of Italy. The Sicilian lemon grew to be globally famous in the 19th century due to its use in cuisine, preservatives, and vitamins.

    The global citrus trade involved Sicilian immigrants settling in Louisiana, specifically New Orleans. This was due to the ripening process of the lemons. The lemons in Sicily were picked while they were still green, and they would ripen in transit. It was about 100 days of travel from Italy to the port of New Orleans, and this was the perfect amount of time for the lemons to ripen perfectly. 

    Not only were the italian immigrants pushed to New Orleans due to the citrus trade, but many of them settled in the city because they felt familiar with New Orleans’ subtropical climate, Catholic history and lust for food and drink.

    As they settled in the south, the influence Sicilian immigrants had in the New Orleans culture grew. Before the 1900’s few Americans enjoyed pasta, but as the Italian community grew within New Orleans, pasta was launched into popularity. By the 1920’s the French Quarter manufactured such large quantities of pasta that it became a household staple for the rest of America. This is when the cultural influence and culinary journey of the “Creole Italians” was born.

    By 1926, the Fresina Macaroni Manufacturing company was established in the French Quarter.

    Creole Italian Pastalaya

    What are Creole Italian recipes?

    In Louisiana food culture includes some classic Creole Italian Recipes includes the following:

    • Pastalaya
      • This dish explores the influence Sicilian immigrants that entered America through the port of New Orleans. Pastalaya uses pasta instead of jambalaya’s traditional rice.
    • Crawfish pasta, or Crawfish Monica
      • Ingredients include pasta (often rotini), crawfish tail meat, onion, garlic, creole seasoning, cream, wine, salt, pepper, and butter. Everything New Orleanians love in their food.
    • Alligator Sauce Piquante
      • Alligator meat is common in New Orlean Cuisine. A sauce piquant is tomato based using a combination of whole, stewed, sauce and paste, and, uses a small roux - basically a creole take of traditional tomato sauce.
    • Crabmeat pasta
      • Fresh crab meat paired with fresh garlic and zesty lemon. When combined with hot tender pasta, it’s a perfect mix of Creole Seafood and Italian.
    Creole Italian Crawfish Pasta