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Louisiana: Cajun Country, Crawdaddies & the Canada Connection

 

Louisiana and the Canada Connection

 

Louisiana: there is a strong connection between Louisiana and Canada. A good number of people in the Louisiana area came from Canada! We recalled learning this in history at school, but had completely forgotten about it, or at least I did.

 

French-speakers from Acadia (now the Maritime provinces of Eastern Canada) were called Acadians. The Acadians were exiled from Eastern Canada when the English took over Canada and expected the French to adopt their religion and their politics. This occurred from the early to mid 1700’s. When the Acadians refused to adopt the Protestant religion, they were expelled from the country.

 

Those Acadians travelled across the U.S. and became the Cajuns in Louisiana where they have developed their own dialect, Cajun French, and what the Cajuns also developed was a vibrant culture including  their own unique Cajun folklore, music and cuisine. Inspired by this re-found knowledge, we were excited to tour some other areas of Louisiana outside of Nawlins’.

 

Driving along towards Breaux Bridge, we were truly in Cajun country, complete with swamps. Swamps were even visible between the modern divided highway. 

P1110725 Beginning Of Swamp Bayou Plantation Cajun Country N Of NOLA

P1110725 Beginning Of Swamp Bayou Plantation Cajun Country N Of NOLA

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P1110730 Closer

 

There were signs for things we have never even heard of… like Boudin Cracklins’, and funny town names like Atchafalaya.

P1110742 Boudin Sausage And Pork Cracklins

P1110742 Boudin Cracklins

P1110743 Atchafalaya

P1110743 Atchafalaya

 

Cajun Country

P1110744 Breux Bridge, Louisiana

P1110744 Breux Bridge, Louisiana

We wandered around Breaux Bridge for bit when we met Marilyn, a lovely super-friendly woman in The Clock Shop. 

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P1110757 Marilyn, Clock Shop, Breux Bridges

P1110757 Marilyn, Clock Shop, Breux Bridges

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Now for lunch, and to taste real Cajun food at Des Amis Cafe in Breaux Bridge.

P1110759 Cafe Des Amis, Breux Bridge

P1110759 Cafe Des Amis, Breux Bridge

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P1110761 Cafe Des Amis, Breux Bridge

P1110761 Cafe Des Amis, Breux Bridge

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P1110762

 

So many tempting dishes to try: Fried Green Tomatoes, Craw Fish Cornbread, Turtle Soup, Duck and Andouille Gumbo, Oysters, but we finally decided on Turtle Soup and Eggplant with Craw Fish Etouffe and Craw Fish Au Gratin. Both delicious.

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P1110764 Turtle Soup

P1110765 Eggplant With Crawfish Etouffe And Crawfish Au Gratin

P1110765 Eggplant With Crawfish Etouffe And Crawfish Au Gratin

 

Craw-daddies

For Dinner, we just had to stop and try the “All you can eat craw-daddies”!

 

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Crawdaddies are ugly. There is no way around that fact, but they are tasty little critters if you don’t look at them while you struggle to peel them. T was crazy about them; I found them a bit fishy and just OK. Craw fish are similar to small lobsters or crayfish, and you need to order about 10 pounds just to get enough meat for a snack. Apparently there are hundreds of different species of crawdaddies as well. 

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We wanted to go on a Bayou Swamp Tour, but by the time we found Basin Landing, outside of Breaux Bridge, it was too late to go on a tour. Still, we could easily see the bayou basin swamp. Mesmerized by the soft blue drama we stood there and gazed at it for over an hour.

P1110769 Basin Landing, Bayou Swamp, Breux Bridge

P1110769 Basin Landing, Bayou Swamp, Breux Bridge

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P1110780 Basin Landing, Bayou Swamp, Breux Bridge

P1110780 Basin Landing, Bayou Swamp, Breux Bridge

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P1110779 Basin Landing, Bayou Swamp, Breux Bridge

P1110768 Closer

P1110768 Closer

 

Opelousas

 

Continuing on through Cajun Country towards the Opelousas, here’s what the countryside looked like.

 

Note the sign, Cajun By Nature.

P1110786 Cajun By Nature

P1110786 Cajun By Nature

P1110787 Sun And Cloud

P1110787 Sun And Cloud

P1110788 Opelousas, Louisiana

P1110788 Opelousas, Louisiana

 

A small tree.

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P1110790 A small tree

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No trip is complete without a little construction delay.

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The next day we arrived in Opelousas, a town with a sad and horrifying past. In 1868, a White Mob in Opelousas, Louisiana, killed nearly 300 Blacks over the right to vote. 

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P1110809 Opelousas

Boudin and Cracklins

 

Temporarily mortified recalling the ugly facts about Opelousas, we soon forgot about it when we saw this sign, and stopped to get some snacks. The had everything from frog legs to rabbit to crawfish-stuffed chicken, all frozen, plus a take-out cafe on the side with a few tables.

P1110812 Rays Billys Boudin

P1110812 Rays Billys Boudin

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So we tried some tasty Boudin Balls, the King of Cajun Food, a rice and pork sausage breaded and deep fried. This was a Cajun staple when the Canadian Acadians moved to Louisiana and used this as a way to stretch their food dollars. I also tried a Sweet Potato Pie, but was not so impressed. 

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Cruising along in our rental car, the fascinating old signs and stores never ceased, and it reminded us of old movies we had seen of the U. S. old South. It is still the same. We passed through towns like Washington and Ville Platte, until we came to Mamou, the Cajun Music Capital of the World.

P1110829 Washington, Louisiana

P1110829 Washington, Louisiana

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More small trees.

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P1110853 Ville Platte

P1110853 Ville Platte

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Yup, rice paddies in Louisiana. Who would have guessed? But they certainly do have water everywhere, even if it is swampy alligator water. 

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P1110874 Rice Fields

P1110874 Rice Fields

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Mamou, Cajun Music Capital of the World

P1110877 Mamou, Cajun Music Capital Of The World

P1110877 Mamou, Cajun Music Capital Of The World

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It was here in Mamou that we met a wily Louisiana woman and her son in her Mom’s Flea Market. What a character she was! 

“Where y’all from?”

“Canada.”

“Yeah, some people in here from about tha in Canada the odder day… Germany, I thinks.” Her son tried to correct her, but she waves him away.

“What y’all gonna buy? There ain’t nothin’ but junk in here, but people come in heah and buy useless stuff all the time. I have a hair pointmen shortly and me son is going to drive me. “

So if you ever find yourself in Mamou, stop at Mom’s Flea Market for a lively and entertaining visit.

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P1110891

P1110893 Mom's Flea Market

P1110893 Mom’s Flea Market

 

We had fun talking to them; they were so full of life. Wandering around Mamou we saw posters of many famous Cajun Music musicians and historic buildings.

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Driving on through Eunice and Sunset, more intriguing sights and signs.

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This bakery store sign says, “Installing a new mixer, will open Thursday.”

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Bayou Swamp Tour

 

Finally we got to the Bayou Swamp Tour, Champayne’s Cajun Swamp Tours.

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Our swamp guide couldn’t have been more typical Southern Redneck hillbilly, complete with over-size dirty overalls and missing teeth. He laughed about,

“Nothin’ better ‘n sittin’ out here fishin’, with a case a beer. Course sometime it’s more beer than fish we get!” This was followed by his own hearty laughter. 

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These bayou swamps are hauntingly beautiful, and deadly quiet.

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“Keep yer eyes peeled for gators – there are plenty of ’em!” our guide said.

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There were more alligators than you could shake a stick at, and we were often only about a stick away!!!!

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P1120070 2 Crocs

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P1120074 2 Crocs

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Sometimes we got caught in the low-hanging branches of the hairy trees.

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Back on shore I don’t mind sharing that I heroically wrestled an alligator to the ground and held his mouth open to show you his nice white teeth. 

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For more info on Champayne’s Alligator Tours: Champayne’s Swamp Tours.

 

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4 Responses to Louisiana: Cajun Country, Crawdaddies & the Canada Connection

  1. Wendy says:

    Love the pictures and the alligators 🙂

  2. What about the one where I wrestled the alligator to show his white teeth? Did you like that one too? I’m pretty strong eh???!

  3. Peta Kaplan says:

    The swamp photographs are beautiful.
    The food….hmm, not my cuppa tea, haha. You are very brave.
    Enjoyed the read!
    Peta

  4. Thanks Peta. I never imagined that a swamp could be so hauntingly beautiful. Those crawdaddies – I know, had to do it once, but once was enough. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. We love hearing from readers.

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