Cajun music is spicier than Cajun cuisine
It’s not about how much hot sauce you use; it’s about how you make it.
Michael Doucet of BeauSoleil makes his own hot sauce from a Tibetan recipe.
“When you have a really good hot sauce, you should have a little liquid. You don’t want to puree it too fine because you want to be able to spoon it out,” Doucet said. “Then you get all the different levels of flavor.”
Over the past 30 years, Doucet has been preserving the heritage of Cajun cuisine as well as Cajun music.
“We’re not banderos of hot sauce walking around,” he said. “Cajun does not mean hot. It means seasoned.”
Doucet said there was no such thing as a Cajun restaurant until the 1980s.
“That’s when America was waking up to the music and the new cuisine,” he said. “It was introduced to middle America who did not have hot sauce on their table.”
Doucet feels a responsibility to preserve the Cajun legacy he was exposed to as a child growing up in Lafayette, Louisiana. The history of the music and the culture was never documented, he said.
“It’s a responsibility to maintain some kind of integrity that was instilled in us as kids. Over here there were no written contracts. You were as good as your handshake. That’s integrity.”
Doucet believes to truly appreciate music you need to be able to appreciate silence.
“It’s really important to really listen to the essence of no sound, which is almost impossible,” he said. “Then you can pick up the music.”
Ninety-nine percent of BeauSoleil’s songs are in French.
“It just helps preserve the culture when you write songs in Cajun French,” Doucet said. “That’s how it is going to survive.”
Doucet was fortunate to have befriended many Cajun musicians who were born in the late 1800s.
“They saw all the changes that took place in the world, from airplanes to music,’ he said. “And I was able to sit with them and hear their stories.”
Real Cajun culture is not just about Mardi Gras, parades and having a good time, which is how it is portrayed on television.
“For me the main difference between our society and Hollywood is that life is very much a living entity. There is a lot of hard work because hard work is hard play,” Doucet said. “It’s not a ‘city on the beach’ mentality. It’s more of a ‘fishing for your own food’ mentality.”
Doucet thinks music can harness emotion and put it out in a song.
“I think of a song in an emotional context,” he said. “You go through an experience and translate it to song. This music is true American music that was created here, right here in Louisiana. It’s just like going back home.”
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