Cajun Country

The culinary couple recounts the Cajun cuisine in southwestern Louisiana.


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In the Cajun country of southwestern Louisiana, gas stations compete with each other through sales of boudin, the favored local sausage, and a multitude of small meat markets proudly tout their fried pork cracklins. Distinctive regional flavors abound, but special versions aren’t easy to find on restaurant menus.

Most people told us to go to Breaux Bridge. We did three times, once to find Mulate’s closed due to recent hurricane damage and twice for so-so lunches at Café Des Amis. Our only really satisfying meal was at D. I.’s Cajun Restaurant, way out in the country west of Lafayette on a crawfish aquafarm between two bayous. Some folks come partially for the music and dancing in the evening, but the crawfish étouffé—served on either rice or seared catfish—is ample reason on its own.

Instead of getting acquainted with the local culture through the food, our usual way, we ended up relying mainly on a wonderful state park, the Longfellow-Evangeline Historic Site. The Visitor Center tells the story of French and African settlement in the area, and an adjacent plantation house and an Acadian farmstead illustrate differences in the lives of upper-class Creoles and other residents in the 19th century. The guides at the lovely park know their history and lore.

Longfellow romanticized the heritage of Cajun country in epic poetry. The truth of the remarkable legacy, however a visitor discovers it, is even more enthralling.

Cheryl and Bill Jamison write about food and travel, always with mouthwatering results. Among their best-selling books are Smoke & Spice, American Home Cooking and The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining. They are also frequent contributors to Cooking Light and Bon Appétit. Married 22 years, they live just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Jamisons’ newest book,
Around the World in 80 Dinners: The Ultimate Culinary Adventure, regales readers with a tasty account of their global travels in search of great local fare—from Bali to Brazil.

Learn more about Cheryl and Bill at
cookingwiththejamisons.com. You can sign up to join them on a future trip by clicking on “culinary adventures.”

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