I almost always brown rice just a little before adding any liquid, regardless of the dish. I love the "nutty" flavor it adds.
I agree ith you on the Creole/Cajun influence. You'll also similair mixtures of foods in the Hispanic culture. My son in law is from Mexico City, my family migrated to Texas from the South, including Louisianna...so you'll always find a lot of spicey dishes served here...
in fact my daughter makes sort of a hodge podge soup...of left overs....that's much like a Jambalaya...but WITHOUT the okra, that's one thing that I can't deal with...BOILED OKRA.