Cooking with the “Triple Treat” of Flavor

by Country Inns & Suites
Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You may not know it, but all gumbo and jambalaya start with the holy trinity: chopped celery, green pepper and onion. Learn why these three veggies are so important to this “hot” cuisine.

 Fun Facts

 1. For any cuisine, the holy trinity is the style’s three key ingredients. 

 2. The Cajun/Creole trinity is based on mirepoix, the French trinity of celery, onion and carrot.

3. Creole cuisine is a mix of African, French and Spanish influences. Cajun combines those with Italian and American Indian flavors.

4. In the 1980s, Cajun food became trendy when chef Paul Prudhomme blackened a redfish. Not traditionally Cajun, blackening is now synonymous with the style.

5. Cajun food definitely has a bite to it, but customarily it is a heat that sneaks up on you. If a dish burns your mouth, then it has too much pepper in it.

6. The trinity is sautéed over low heat to slowly “sweat” out the natural sugars and give a dish additional seasoning and zest.

7. Throughout the centuries, celery has been used medicinally as a blood purifier. It originated as a wild plant in marshes from Sweden south throughout Europe.

8. In 1493, pepper seeds were taken from Central and South America to Spain. From there, they later spread to other European and Asian countries.

9. More calories are burned digesting a piece of celery than the piece contains.

10. The sulfuric compounds in onions are what cause your eyes to tear up. To cut down on this unpleasant side effect, chill the onion and cut into the root end last.

Kitchen Tips

  • Most recipes say to sauté the trinity until the vegetables are translucent.
  • To go the extra mile, cook the ingredients longer, until they are almost a paste.
  • A good, basic stock for soups or stews starts with the trinity. Simmer the vegetables
    along with some garlic and parsley in water for an hour.