Regional Spotlight: Southern Louisiana

Louisiana stands out from any other state in the nation. The Gulf Coast of Louisiana has faced many hardships in the past from Hurricane Katrina to the oil spill, but the spirit of the region never wavered. The people are always inviting and happy to share a bite of their lifestyle.

Southern Louisiana is truly a must-see destination for foodies and cultural enthusiasts alike. The French-speaking Acadian immigrants who settled in Southwest Louisiana brought the Cajun language, culture and cooking style that are now ubiquitous in the Acadiana region.

Cajun food has slowly spread its way across the nation, but no one can make it with the same authenticity that they do in Louisiana. Creole is another cooking style made synonymous with the region. Both styles are based on French cooking techniques and use unique local ingredients like wild game, crawfish and okra. While Creole and Cajun cuisine are very similar, there are subtle differences in each. Cajun is typically a heartier, country-style cooking.

There are two key ingredients that serve as the building blocks of most Cajun recipes. First is Cajun roux, which is made of flour and oil or lard where traditional roux’s would use butter. This mix creates a darker roux that is used as a thickening agent in iconic Cajun dishes like gumbo, jambalaya and crawfish étouffée (all of which you cannot leave Louisiana without trying).

The other essential to Cajun cooking is the “holy trinity.” This is made with sautéed onions, celery and bell peppers. Although adaptations of Cajun seasonings have been made with a heavy hand of cayenne pepper, authentic Cajun food does not have to be spicy, but it does have to be flavorful.

In a place where food has such a strong link to the complicated history of the region, it is just as important to take in the cuisine as it is to take in the sites. After a few days you will find yourself making excuses to extend your stay and take in everything that Cajun country has to offer.

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