Louisiana- we timed our stay in this state for “mudbug” season and Mardi Gras. Enjoying the lush green scenery, culture, and amazing food, we had a hard time departing from this diverse state. Throughout our travels, here are a few things we noticed about Louisiana along the way:
Walk-up Daiquiri shops
To be honest, we still aren’t exactly sure why there are so many daiquiri shops, as this tropical drink is something we commonly associate with beach destinations. But, associations aside, almost every town in Louisiana that we visited boasted at least one, if not several, walk-up window daiquiri shops. Discrete looking to-go sippy cups were frequently seen out on the streets, where there are apparently laxer open container laws.
By far, our favorite regional food in America, and one that embodies our melting pot heritage. Taking advantage of “mudbug” (a.k.a. crawfish) season, we made it a point to order as much boiled seafood as possible. Between Muffulettas, po’boys, étouffée, boudin, gumbo, grilled gator, jambalaya, bread pudding, and seafood in all of its beautiful Louisiana forms, we couldn’t get enough Louisiana cooking. We also feel the Sazerac, a popular drink in New Orleans, should be declared a National cocktail.
When hunting online for local restaurants and places of interest, we would try to find official websites rather than just relying on secondhand sources, like Yelp! and FourSquare. In a growing majority of cases, we were slightly amused to find that Facebook pages were often linked to as the “official” business website for many establishments in Louisiana. Definitely a cheaper and easier way to build a “website”, but for all the restaurants out there, please remember to provide a menu tab or at least post photos of the current menu!
Representations of French street names, language signs, dialects, and culture were abundant throughout Louisiana. As a first generation child of a French mother, I am not used to seeing large representations of French culture within the United States. Aside from Canada, to my knowledge, Louisiana appears to maintain the largest French influence in North America. It was interesting to learn about the Acadian influence throughout “Cajun country” and of all the European and African influences in and around New Orleans. Even the heavy Catholic influence is uncommon and led to Louisiana’s unique adoption of being divided into “Parishes”, rather than the “Counties” you find throughout the rest of the States.
Blue & White police lights
As we were driving into New Orleans, we saw vibrant blue and white lights flashing off into the distance. Thinking they were some sort of adornment, possibly associated with Mardi Gras, and finding them to be very striking and beautiful, it had not occurred to us that they represented police lights. As we came closer, we were shocked to discover that what we had thought of as “pretty lights”, were, in fact, police vehicles. Thus, breaking with the traditional, and much more severe, Red/ Blue light combo of all the police vehicles we had encountered beforehand. Consequently, our learned natural response to obey those alarming Red/Blue lights did not initially occur whenever we saw the Blue/White flashing combo. As we continued on throughout the Southern states, we began getting more acclimated with this light pattern, but I have to say, it still does not command the same sense of urgency- there is just something much more jarring and commanding in the Red/Blue lights.
I first encountered this term when making a campground reservation and the woman on the other end of the line mentioned that they had a washeteria/ washateria (we later saw both spellings used). Confused, I asked if this referred to showers, envisioning some type of large cafeteria-sized room lined with shower stalls. She laughed and said a “washateria” was what I would call a Laundromat, and thus began our introduction to a different American moniker for a room that houses laundry machines.