A Cajun Country adventure album

Where does a travel editor go on vacation?

Vermilionville

Vermilionville Living History Museum invites visitors to step back in time. Maison Mouton focuses on tools and offers demonstrations of woodworking.

Cynthia Elyce Rubin
Travel Editor
The Norwegian American

Where does a travel editor go on vacation? Why, Louisiana’s Cajun Country, of course! A two-hour drive from New Orleans, Acadiana, a region where French-speaking immigrants who fled Canada in the 1700s called Cajuns mixed with Creole, Native American, and African traditions. The result? A rich gumbo (stew) of food, music, culture, and history.

My weekend with family and friends in tow began at the annual Festivals Acadiens et Créoles where Cajun and zydeco music inspired hundreds of young and old dancers. Lafayette, the region’s urban hub, is, after all, known as the “happiest city in America.” Off to Vermilionville to see Acadian, Creole, and Native American buildings and crafts and then a visit with Tee Don Landry, whose father first made the wearable rubboard (frottoir) used as a percussion instrument in zydeco music.

The Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, an annual event, hosts many Cajun and zydeco bands, including Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band.

The next day, a “Cajun Food Tour” taught us a distinct culinary identity, including po’ boy sandwiches, jambalaya (a one-pot creole dish), rice, crawfish, shrimp, BBQ, and boudin (sausage). It’s no surprise that the festival opens not with a cutting of a ribbon but of a boudin.

A “swamp tour” took us into the Atchafalaya Basin, wetlands, and river delta where the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico converge. The guide kept trying to attract alligators to the boat while egrets flew around mindless of us interlopers. Like all locals, they seemed to say “Laissez les bons temps rouler” (let the good times roll).

Atchafalaya Swamp, located in south central Louisiana, is the largest wetland and swamp in the United States.

Cajun boudin is commonly boudin blanc (white sausage) consisting of rice, pork, and seasonings, made since the 18th century.

BJ’s in Broussard is a po’ boy sandwich shop in the “olde tyme tradition” of New Orleans. They also serve plate lunches.

Tee Don Landry, owner of Key of Z Rubboards, in front of the diversity of frottoir (washboard-like instruments) he makes by hand.

Artisans in Vermilionville, such as quilter Lynn Gery, demonstrate in Beau Bassin, where you see artifacts used in textile arts.

All photos by Cynthia Elyce Rubin

Many thanks to Ben Berthelot of Lafayette Travel for all his help. For more information: LafayetteTravel.commcgeesswamptours.com and cajunfoodtours.com.

This article originally appeared in the January 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Cynthia Elyce Rubin

Cynthia Elyce Rubin, PhD., is a visual culture specialist, travel writer, and author of articles and books on decorative arts, folk art, and postcard history. She collects postcards, ephemera, and early photography. See www.cynthiaelycerubin.com.