First, my deepest apologies to the State of Louisiana! Relying solely on stereotypes of what is Louisiana known for, I never took the time to learn what Louisiana is all about!
Because I stereotyped about Louisiana, I never visited.
And because I never visited, I never knew how incredible Louisiana is!
I was wrong about everything. There’s so much more to Louisiana than the bawdy celebrations on Bourbon Street.
If you, like me, don’t know what Louisiana is known for, this post is for you! Read on!
If all you know about Louisiana can be summed up in Mardi Gras, Hurricane Katrina or Emeril Lagasse’s “BAM!” you should really give it another look.
The people of Louisiana know how to live.
In fact, the five happiest cities in the United States are ALL in Louisiana: Lafayette (1), followed by Houma, Shreveport, Baton Rouge and Alexandria.
You don’t have to take my word for it, though. Here’s Brian Williams, from NBC:
What makes Louisiana so happy?
So, if Louisiana is the happiest place in the United States, what should Louisiana be known for?
1. Louisianians embrace their heritage.
In a world where conformity is encouraged and secrets are hidden, Louisianians embrace their heritage.
They admit to a history of slavery and acknowledge its influence on the region today.
They remember where they came from, whether Creole or Acadian (which is where the word “Cajun” comes from, a people who emigrated from French Canada in the 1700s to escape British rule).
Among the most important things the culture of Louisiana is embedded in their everyday life. Louisianians celebrate their heritage in food, culture and everyday living.
2. Louisianians are friendly.
Would you allow me to generalize here and say happy people are friendly?
I know when I’m in a good mood, I smile more, hold the door for others and slow down enough to engage with others.
In the culture of Louisiana, that slow, happy intentionality was evident everywhere.
One lady I spoke with named Michelle, who works at Rabideaux’s Sausage Kitchen in Iowa (pronounced I-O-Way), saw me taking photos for this article. She paused her work to ask where I was from and what I was doing. Next thing I know, we’re exchanging stories like old friends.
Sure, she had a job to do, but when I think about what is Louisiana known for, I will remember people are more important than tasks.
If Michelle’s story isn’t enough to convince you about the friendly culture of Louisiana, I spoke with another lady from Houma, merely the second happiest place in America, who explained it this way:
“We slow down to enjoy a cup of coffee on each other’s porch now and again. Working people don’t need their own table at lunch. They sit together as they come in.”Houma, Louisiana resident
Silly me! I thought this was a fiction of small town America. I had no idea it’s real!
3. Louisianians love their food!
When I go, the food culture of Louisiana is always prominent.
Lousiana food essentials include beignets, those fried bits of heaven covered in powdered sugar.
Other Louisiana foods you really need to try when visiting are: iced tea (it’s not sweet in Louisiana — these are French descendants, not British and boudin.
Boudin, pronounced boo-dan, is such an important part of the food culture of Louisiana that the state even has a Cajun boudin trail!
What is boudin, you ask?
Well, it’s one of the foods you should automatically think of when considering what is Louisiana known for. A Cajun dish, best described as ground pork and rice stuffing served as a steamed sausage or deep fried as boudin balls. It’s quite popular at Mardi Gras festivals throughout the state, and as an everyday dish — even in kids lunch boxes!
4. Lousianians appreciate nature.
In Louisiana, I held an alligator in my bare hands! So what that he was only 12″ long. He had sharp teeth!
Many Louisianians I met shared how when they were kids, they’d water ski on the bayou because gators were so scarce.
They laugh and say anyone who does that today is nuts!
The gators have made a comeback, thanks in large part to the culture of Louisiana to respect nature.
I got to see the gator’s resurgence myself on a bayou boat tour with Grosse Savanne Eco-Tours. While enjoying our leisurely ride through the marshland, we didn’t see a single alligator — and we were looking!
Then, a sweet baby bird lost his footing. His wings, not yet strong, couldn’t save him.
He tumbled in — and the gators swarmed! Let’s just say I witnessed the circle of life.
5. Louisianians know how to throw a party!
Back to my self-confessed, incorrect stereotype….. When you think about what is Lousiana known for, please believe me — it’s way more than Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras!
With that said, Mardi Gras is an important part of the culture of Louisiana. And, those Louisiana beads are a subculture of their own!
For a family friendly Mardi Gras experience, where you can experience the culture of Louisiana with the kids, head to Southwestern Louisiana!
The Lake Charles Mardi Gras in southwestern Louisiana celebrates with its own local flair! There are chicken runs, masked balls and parades, just the way it should be. The children’s parade is an alcohol free event!
Beyond the Mardi Gras celebrations in January and February, the state has more than 200 festivals each year. And, that brings us full circle in thinking about what is Louisiana known for.
This happy state is known for friendly people who know how to enjoy life! In the culture of Louisiana, people matter, and the lunch table always has room for one more. Tradition is important.
Yes, Louisiana beads are part of the culture — not just at Mardi Gras. Beignets are delicious. But, here? People are the heart!
Louisianians celebrate life! Year-round. I think we’d all be happier if we did just that!
Start planning your Southwest Louisiana vacation HERE! You will come home happy!