When Hank Williams wrote Jambalaya in 1952, he captured the essence of the Cajun self-proclaimed passion for good food and good friends.
The Acadians who settled in the bayous and swamps of Southern Louisiana developed a unique and authentic cooking style.
Louisiana has an appetite for food, music, and fun that is best summed up in the Cajun phrase laissez les bons temps rouler—let the good times roll.
Based on a survey of 1.3 million people across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Louisiana as the nation’s happiest state.
Many reasons likely led to this distinction, but I’m certain that the Bayou State’s incredible cuisine played a major role. Bite into boudin and see if a smile doesn’t break out.
Here, you don’t just eat. You dine with gusto.
Cajun Country, Louisiana’s southwest region was settled by Acadians expelled by the British from the Maritime Provinces of Canada beginning in 1755. The Acadians, or Cajuns, adapted well to south Louisiana, learning to fish and trap, raise livestock, and cultivate crops like rice, peppers, and okra.
What Is Cajun Cooking?
First, Cajun cooking is NOT about heat or hot food. Cajun cooking is the marriage of seasoning creating a wonderful flavor.
Second, one of the most important ingredients of many of the Cajun dishes, such as gumbos, is a group name the Trinity. Trinity is not meant to be sacrilegious in regard to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Cajun Trinity consists of a mixture of onions, bell peppers, and celery.
Third, Cajun cooking is about bringing family and friends together. Many Cajun dishes take several hours to prepare and cook. While cooking these dishes, there is usually a gathering of friends and family visiting, playing games, and/or making music. Basically, these people just have a good time while making a good meal.
Edible Souvenirs from Cajun Country
Cajun foods connect the folks to their diverse heritage, one that includes French, Spanish, African, and German influences. It is over a meal that locals come together in celebration, whether it’s a Mardi Gras gumbo or a Friday night crawfish boil.
The Cajun culture has remained largely intact with savory cuisine including gumbo, boudin, cracklins, and dishes featuring crawfish, a freshwater shellfish resembling a miniature lobster.
With fine dining establishments, mom-and-pop diners, and everything in between, there are stops for every budget.
The city of Lafayette was recognized by Southern Living magazine as the South’s Tastiest Town in 2012. Three reasons why: The amazing cuisine served at Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn, Johnson’s Boucaniere, and The French Press (where you should order the Sweet Baby Breesus, buttermilk biscuit sliders with bacon, fried boudin balls, and local cane syrup).
Taste some of the Gulf’s freshest seafood in cities like Morgan City and Houma where seasons aren’t dictated by weather but by which seafood is most likely to end up on your plate. Think in terms of shrimp, crab, oysters, and other Louisiana delicacies.
Be sure to try a few cups of gumbo while you’re here. No two are alike. For some of the best around, head to the Louisiana Gumbo Festival held in October in Chackbay.
Spice up your trip with a tour of Avery Island, home to TABASCO.
Pay tribute to Louisiana’s official crustacean in Breaux Bridge, the Crawfish Capital of the World.
And do save room for boudin, a tradition and culinary staple around Lafayette and Lake Charles.
The self-proclaimed capital of Cajun Country, Lafayette is known for its bounty of boudin. Lake Charles is the urban center of a five-parish area called Southwest Louisiana.
Visit any specialty meat shop, or grocery store that has boudin fresh or packaged. The best boudin is made in-house and is often found at gas stations, butcher blocks, lunch places, and independent grocers.
Now, go ahead, get started. We don’t want you to miss a thing.
Please Note: This is Part 1 of an on-going series on Louisiana Cuisine/Travel Ideas
When the taste changes with every bite and the last bite is as good as the first, that’s Cajun.
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If you enjoy these articles and want to read more on RV travels and lifestyle, visit my website: Vogel Talks RVing.