When Brand USA/Visit The USA asked me if I was interested in going to Louisiana to write and host a culinary video about Cajun food. The decision was easy, bien sûr! Merci !
I had the chance to visit New Orleans many years ago when I was in Community Relations for a video game company. Stepping there felt like home for many reasons because of my creole origins maybe or simply because of the food, the jazz, and the warmth of the people. Since then hurricane Katrina happened and time passed but I always had Louisiana on my heart and I’m glad I got to go back to discover more!
Located along the Calcasieu River, Lake Charles is one of the five largest cities in Louisiana. Lake Charles is also the perfect place to explore some Cajun culture and sample authentic Cajun cuisine. French Canadian immigrants arrived in Louisiana from Canada in the 1760s and developed the Cajun culture there. Lake Charles has several neighborhoods and it’s very nice to drive around town but the best stop was for me the Seafood Sensation Trail where I found some of the freshest seafood around. I stopped by Seafood Palace where Tammy taught me how to eat crawfish and where I enjoyed a huge, festive Cajun lunch. It was amazing! I even got to help my digestion by sipping on some Bayou Rum.
No trip to Louisiana would be complete without visiting the city of Lafayette, of course named for the famous General. Located along the Vermilion River, the city was originally called Vermilionville but it was changed after the American Revolutionary War to honor General Lafayette.
For a taste of something very unique to this region, visit the Acadian Village to explore the historic buildings and lifestyle of the French settlers who made their home here. This charming village is a wonderful attraction any time of year, but especially in December when the village is gorgeously lit for the Noel Acadien au Village Christmas Festival. Located just outside of Lafayette, La Maison De Begnaud is a wonderful place to learn about the region and explore Cajun culture. It’s great any time, but especially on Friday nights when they host a jam session of local Cajun musicians. It’s a one of a kind experience that you can’t find anywhere else. I love food and I got to stop by the amazing Social Southern Table & Bar where Chef Mark Krampe gave me a tour of his kitchen and where I got to taste amazing specialties and drink a Bloody Mary made with some Tabasco sauce, a nearby production. Cajun cuisine or let’s say definitely southern cuisine with a twist!
Touring Tabasco Factory & Jungle Gardens
We went for a morning walk in the Jungle Gardens of Avery Island. It’s a 170-acre semitropical garden where you’ll be able to see amazing bird species, an abundance of wildlife and observe alligators while enjoying the tranquility and peacefulness of the place. Namaste. We toured the Tabasco factory. You can smell the pepper in the air (it’s gentle yet you can smell it), no wonder that no employees get sick there. It clears your lungs! The process of making Tabasco is very similar to the process of making wine. It’s a noble one and you can feel the care and love of the people behind it. The company is privately owned and so is the island. I enjoyed tasting all the different sorts of Tabasco. I even brought back a couple bottles of the Tabasco Reserve (an 8 year fermentation process). You can only get the Reserve on the island.
Louisiana is really a special place with lots to see. My previous trips here had focused on New Orleans, which is of course great, but I’m learning that there are many more great places to visit with some truly amazing food.
When You Go
Creole Nature Trail
Grosse Savanne Eco-Tours
Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu
Food and refreshment
Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail
For more information
Visit Lake Charles
Social Southern Table & Bar