We came to eat! – Cajun Country, Louisiana

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…and boy did we ever!

But first, since we were camping in the capital city of Louisiana – Baton Rouge – we wanted to tour the state capitol building.  Having visited eight so far, we continue to be amazed by what we learn at each one.  So how about the history and unique features of this capitol building?

Firstly, it’s the tallest one in the country.

Steve looks up at the 450′ tall structure

Secondly, this one displays the names of every state in the order of their admittance into the union on its front steps.

Steps with engraved names of states and year of admittance

An interesting fact – a great proponent in constructing the building, Governor Huey Long, was assassinated in the hallway of this very building he helped to create.

Lastly, this building was constructed similar in style with two other ones we’ve visited, in Nebraska and North Dakota.  All three were completed at about the same time and have unique stories to tell.

Memorial Hall features flags of power that rule over Louisiana, and a circular bronze relief map of the state on the floor shows many of its products and the names of its 64 parishes

The Goddess of Knowledge decorates the entry to the House Chamber

On the 27th floor is the observation deck, where we enjoyed a 360º view of Baton Rouge:

Looking south, the Capitol gardens that contain the grave and statue of Huey P. Long

To the west is the Port of Baton Rouge and the Mississippi River flowing toward New Orleans

After the tour I began my first foray into Cajun eating for this trip…3 pounds of absolute deliciousness!

I ate them all!

Breaux Bridge

Of course everyone knows about New Orleans, but we prefer “the real cajun country”, known as Acadiana, when we visit.  The history and culture of this area really set it apart.  The residents here came from various native nationalities, but many are “Cajuns”, descendants of 18th-century Acadian exiles from what is now Canada’s Maritime Provinces.  Our home base during this one-week stay was at the little town of Breaux Bridge, known for its Cajun and Creole culture, and its legendary Cajun cooking and crawfish dishes.

Common signs seen along I-10

Music and Dance

Savoring cajun cuisine is only one of the reasons we were here, another was to attend a fais do-do – a Cajun dance party.  Weekends were jam session time, beginning on Saturday mornings with dancing to live zydeco music.  You see, Cajuns are known for their “Joie de Vivre” or Joy of Life, and they express it by pumping up high energy music featuring an accordion!

The locals dance a Cajun two-step or a Cajun waltz

Along with the accordion, another main instrument is a corrugated metal washboard called a Zydeco Rubboard or frottoir

In the thick of dancing to the Zydeco beat, with tourists like me filling the dance floor!

After taking a recovery break back at Poches Fish Camp where Betsy was parked, we headed over to a big event at Bayou Teche Brewery.  The band BeauSoleil, a 2-time Grammy winner, happened to be playing that day.  Using an accordion and fiddle, they’ve captured the rich Cajun traditions of Louisiana with an infectious beat, and wow were they good!

The sounds of BeauSoleil were definitely music to our ears!

We loved this unique but awesome jamming music

It was a Saturday filled with music, food, and dancing.  These folks know how to party!

So what else did we eat?

We had our initial taste of Cajun food during our first visit in 2013, and we vowed then to come back and stay longer.  This time we had a long list of foods to enjoy, and Steve was happy that there were no dishes to do for a whole week!

You know you’re in Cajun Country when you see things like this in the grocery stores and small restaurants:

While stuffing ourselves we learned that Cajun and Creole dishes are actually two distinct cuisines, both born in Louisiana.  One difference is between the people who prepare them:

Creole food contains influences of multicultural heritage born to settlers in French colonial Louisiana, and more specifically in New Orleans – hence Creole food is referred to as “city food”.

Nothing fancy just fall in line for your plated lunch

Cajun cuisine is referred to more as “country food”, prepared by people that descended from the families of the original Acadians.  These were Canadians of French descent who immigrated to the region from Nova Scotia after being expelled by the British in the mid-18th century and found sanctuary in southwest Louisiana.

The other distinction is that Creole cuisine uses tomatoes, while traditional Cajun food doesn’t.  We enjoyed both of these iconic dishes the entire week, especially loving the crawfish étouffée, a staple in both Cajun and Creole cookery.  It’s a rich dish that pairs crawfish tails with a light, blond roux served over rice.

And then there’s Boudin (boo-dan), a Cajun sausage link made of pork, pork liver, rice, onions, and spices stuffed inside a chewy casing.  I preferred mine stuffed with crawfish, but it was all excellent. And remember that icemaker that Steve fixed weeks back?  Well, we had to remove it from our freezer to make room for Cajun food and fit it with all of the fish we’d already collected!

Breaux Bridge is the world’s crawfish capital, and beginning in 1960 it started celebrating with a crawfish festival.  Our timing was a bit off since it doesn’t happen until early May.  Fortunately, we were here during the early crawfish season so we were able to put a dent in the crawfish population!

Rice fields alternate as crawfish farms during the year

We learned how to pinch, peel and squeeze like real pros during our stay, and Steve actually likes crawfish now.  Good thing, as we ordered another three pounds before heading out of town:

Pinch, peel, squeeze, eat – repeat

A 3-lb crawfish boil- good for one person

The crawfish boil is a tradition that holds a special place in Cajun culture.  While here, we heard an old Cajun story that goes like this: in the 1700’s when ancestors of the Cajuns were forced to leave their homes in Acadia (now Nova Scotia), the lobsters missed them so much that they followed them.  Their journey was rough and long, carrying them over land and sea so by the time they arrived in Louisiana they had shrunk into mini-lobsters.  Later they were renamed crawfish and thus these iconic creatures have become inextricably woven into the culture and traditions.

Crawfish do taste a bit like lobster!

From boiled crawfish to gumbo, boudin to cracklins, and red beans to pralines, we enjoyed the local food with gusto.  At the end of the week we had accomplished our goal – we came to eat…and boy did we…and our scale proved it!

 

Next up:  Natural and Haunting beauty of Cajun Country



 

26 thoughts on “We came to eat! – Cajun Country, Louisiana

  1. So glad to read about your travels in my home town of Breaux Bridge. I absolutely loved your blog post! Just discovered it while searching for Louisiana. Can’t wait to read more about your adventures!!

    ♥ Amber- The Traveling Crawfish

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    • Love your little town everyone is so friendly!
      Thanks for riding with us, hope you will find some travel ideas.

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  2. Looks like a ton of fun and good food….I bet you couldn’t wait to get to some good hiking territory after this stay!

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  3. Thanks for taking us inside the capitol building … so many interesting little details. Didn’t realize Huey Long had been assassinated inside the building. Love the Cajun story about the crawfish … though still not a fan of eating them.

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    • We wanted to get a tour but the two of us is not considered a group so we just did our own discovery.

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  4. The state capitol looks very interesting. We always enjoy touring the buildings. There is so much to take in that a guide (or guide book) seems to be necessary at each capitol. Thanks for the tour! One definitely does not want to have their blood work done after visiting this area with all that wonderful food. You and Steve did a great job getting the full flavor. What a fun time!

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    • How funny we did talk about our lab works which will be done soon. We have four weeks to work it off.

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  5. How fun!! We love Cajun Country! So glad that Steve has learned to appreciate crawdads. But now you have to share. 🙂 We had planned to go to Bayou Teche Brewery while we were there in January but ran out of time. So it goes back on our neverending list. Love the photo of you at the fais do-do! Laissez les bon temps rouler, my friends!

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    • At least you always have a chance of passing this way again and discover new places and things to discover. The owner/pourer at Bayou Teche gave us a list of things to do in and around Breaux Bridge but could not do it all 🙂 as you know.

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  6. As I read this and saw your pictures I could almost taste the boudin, cracklins and other yummy Cajun dishes! When we stayed at Poche’s a few years ago we left with A freezer full of boudin and andouille. Now I feel like I should make some gumbo!

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  7. Ayyyeeee (that’s Cajun for “wow” 😁) you’re not only jammin’ down the road, you’re jammin’ with the blog posts! I wasn’t sure I’d like a food post, but you made it all look really good. I’d type more, but I’m too hungry now.

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  8. Dave can eat enough crawfish for both of us. When we were in the area a few years ago we attended an etouffee cookoff, now that’s something we both like. We’ve also visited a crawfish farm down in that area. So much rich history there.

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  9. Goodness me! That’s a lot of food and music, MonaLiza. I’ve never had crawfish but would be happy to give it a try; smothered rabbit not so much. 😳 Fabulous photos of your visit.

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  10. Just found your blog. Had to laugh because we are going to Bayou Teche Brewery today. It will be our first time though we live in Southwest Louisiana. Tuesday we will be in Lafayette for all you can eat crawfish and beer. Glad ya’ll are enjoying the food. Hope to meet down the road one day.

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  11. I LOVE this post MonaLiza. What a great time dancing and eating and just simply enjoying life. We have never had crawfish, and if they taste like lobster, we must give them a try.

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  12. Gorgeous photos again 🙂 and I just might hop across the TX-LA border to visit Baton Rouge next weekend!

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    • Terri, have some crawfish at Willys in Baton Rogue, they had the best and let me know if you like it.

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  13. That’s a lot of crawfish! We went to a boil when we were there a few years ago and loved it. What a mess though!

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