Lagniappe is Cajun for “something extra,” like the extra donut in a baker’s dozen and is the perfect word to describe this escorted vacation to the Bayou and beyond, which will, by far, exceed your expectations. Your visit includes the magnificent city of Nachez along the Mighty Mississippi – boasting splendid antebellum mansions; the beautiful gardens of Bellingrath; and a view of the spectacular Lake Pontchartrain and so much more.
I have long been fascinated with the Cajun culture. Their Joie de Vivre (attitude toward life) and Laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll) just make you feel good while in their company. I’ve decided to share a little Cajun background in order to prepare you for this Interlude to the land of crawdads and po’boys. By definition a Cajun is a person of French Canadian descent born or living along the bayous, marshes and prairies of southern Louisiana.
Experiencing the Cajun culture is like no other – anywhere. It’s wild and fun and guarantees smiles. The Cajuns of today are a thrifty, hard-working, fun-loving, devout religious folk. They work hard and play harder. The Cajun’s pleasure-loving nature expresses itself in the community festivals, dancing and food that are integral parts of bayou life. Cajuns are known for their “joie de vivre” (joy of living), and you’ll be sure to note the added excitement immersed in their food due to great experimentation with herbs, spices and rare ingredients. It is like nothing you have ever tasted and always delicious.
One of the traditional favorite Cajun pastimes is an old- fashioned crawfish boil.
When the sacred “crawdads” go into the pot a breath of excitement fills the air. Before the great feast of the boiled crawfish, potatoes, onions and corn, youngsters make a mad dash for the crawfish tub poking the live crawfish with sticks while other family members participate in crawfish races. Sounds wild, but I have it on the best authority. Tradition you know.
Boiling crawfish is not the only way to enjoy the crustaceans. When crawfish go into the pot a number of delicious dishes result because there are almost as many ways to cook crawfish as there are swamps, ponds and ditches in which to catch them. Crawfish are served up in gumbo, bisque, étouffée, jambalaya, pies or patties. When the Cajuns aren’t eating crawfish, they enjoy other world famous cuisine of Louisiana such as oysters, shrimp, boudin, pralines, gumbo and red beans and rice. I thought it might be helpful to know what you might be eating so below please find a small portion of what’s going on food-wise.
A popular breakfast food, made by frying cornmeal and topping it with milk and/or cane syrup.
A rich, spicy tomato-based soup or stew made with fish fillets, onions, and sometimes mixed vegetables.
Crawfish, sometimes spelled “crayfish,” resemble lobsters, but are much smaller. Locally, they are known as “mudbugs,” because they live and grow in the mud of freshwater bayous. They can be served many ways: in etouffees, jambalaya, gumbos or, simply boiled.
The word originally described those people of mixed French and Spanish blood who migrated from Europe or were born in Southeast Louisiana and lived as sophisticated city or plantation dwellers. The term has expanded and now embraces a type of cuisine and a style of architecture.
Pan-fried leftover cooked rice sauteed with green peppers, onion, celery, stock, liver, giblets and many other ingredients.
A succulent, tangy tomato-based sauce; a smothered dish usually made with crawfish or shrimp. Crawfish and Shrimp etouffees are New Orleans and Cajun country specialties.
Cajun music is also distinctive. It can be lively or melancholy, and sometimes both at the same time. The main reason why many attend festivals is for the unique Cajun music. Cajun music, once deemed as nothing noteworthy has infiltrated radio, television and classrooms and now can be recognized for its unique sounds of instruments like accordions, fiddles and triangles. It fills the soul with sound that defies interpretation. Zydeco (zi-de-co) is a relatively new kind of Creole dance music that is a combination of traditional Cajun dance music, R & B and African blues – so much fun to dance and party to. When a hot Zydeco band starts cooking, the backbeat of the washboard makes it hard for your feet to resist the dance floor. Enjoy the moment.
In Cajun Country, a week hardly goes by without chants of praise to crawfish, rice, alligators, cotton, boudin, yams, gumbo and andouille, all the necessities of bayou life. Whether in food, music or fun, the Cajun tradition continues to live on in the hearts of Cajuns and visitors alike. Laissez les bon temps rouler and let Interlude help introduce you to a truly captivating new adventure. Check out the itinerary and leave your inhibitions at home – the energy and romance of Cajun country awaits and it’s always party time on the Bayou – don’t forget to pack your dancing shoes.
Azaleas, Plantations & Cajuns (click here for itinerary)
April 12-19, 2011 (8 days, 7 nights)
- Guaranteed departure (plan in confidence!)
- Escorted vacation (0% fuss, 100% vacation!)
- Tour for active adults (share a great experience!)
- Includes home pickup and return (for clients in Marion and adjacent counties)
– Interlude blog team
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