TRUTH: The swamp was (and still is) where Cajuns shop for ingredients.
Long before foraging was a thing, it was a way of life for Cajuns. Folse calls it shopping in the “swamp floor pantry” because growing up, that’s exactly how he and his siblings would get ingredients for dinner. The swamplands provided plentiful naturally growing herbs and seasonings, like sassafras, which could be ground into filé powder, the spicy ingredient in gumbos. Pepperworth and wild garlic were usually incorporated, as were the frogs, turtles, and wild catfish that they would pull from murky waters.
MYTH: Cajun dishes all use the same roux.
A roux is a combination of fat and flour used to thicken sauces, but not all roux are the same -- especially in Cajun cooking. A traditional French roux is a combo of butter and flour, but Cajuns use different oils and fats to make particular roux for particular dishes. For example, Folse makes a dark brown roux with vegetable oil for his traditional Cajun dishes, like smoked duck gumbo. That dark roux is hearty enough to stand up to the smoky flavors of the duck. But for a seafood gumbo, you need a lighter roux, one the color of a paper bag, to compliment the fish without overpowering the flavors. Some of his roux call for animal fat, bacon, butter, lard, or even peanut oil, depending on the dish, to result in different flavors. All of this Folse learned from his father, as part of cooking traditions passed down in his family: “We went to culinary school all our lives, taught by our grandmothers and grandfathers.”