Jambalaya is a Louisiana-born dish that has its origins in historical influences from France and Spain; its name is from the Provence region of southern France, originally spelled as jambalaia and may descend from Provençal French styles of pilaf and the Spanish dish paella. It is a variation of the French and Spanish words for 'jumbled' and 'mixed up'.

Jambalaya the dish per se is rice with any combination of meat (chicken, pork, sausage); shellfish (usually shrimp, crawfish, mussels); and vegetables of the cook's choice. It is often flavored with varying amounts of cayenne pepper, the unofficial spice of Louisiana.

The song 'Jambalaya (On the Bayou)' was recorded by Country Music Hall of Famer Hank Williams (Senior) in June 1952. It was released and published the next month. It was Billboard's #1 Hot Country single and Billboard's 20th Most Played by Jukeboxes in 1952. 'Jambalaya' is Williams' most covered (frequently redone in variations) song; arguably the first, by Fats Domino in 1961, is the most familiar. It has been covered in many genres, the one by the Carpenters (1974) may be the only known 'soft pop' version. In the meantime there are countless zydeco (Louisiana folk), mariachi and 'street Chicano' re-stylings. Of the last, Freddy Fender's cover may be the best known.

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