Satisfy your appetite for culinary travel at Louisiana’s food festivals, cooking schools, and culinary tours.
Cajun Boudin Trail
The self-proclaimed capital of Cajun Country, Lafayette is known for its bounty of boudin. The best boudin is made in-house and is often found at gas stations, meat shops, and independent grocers.
The Cajun Boudin Trail puts you on the path to discovering Louisiana’s best boudin and other regional specialty items, be they pork chop sandwiches, beef jerky, cheesy boudin balls, specialty sausages, cracklin, smoked meats, plate lunches, stuffed chickens, or chili dogs.
Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail
Lake Charles is the urban center of a five-parish area called Southwest Louisiana.
Travel the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail along I-10 and visit any mom and pop food establishment, specialty meat shop, or grocery store that has boudin fresh or packaged. Locals eat this delicious Cajun sausage for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
Craft breweries are popping up across Louisiana, and many offer tours and tastings.
Established in 1986, Abita Brewing Company is the oldest and largest craft brewery in the southeast and one of the oldest craft breweries in the United States.
Baton Rouge is home to the Tin Roof Brewing Company. For $5 you can tour the brewery Friday (doors open at 5 p.m.), receive a special edition souvenir glass, and three samples of their handcrafted ale. Tin Roof’s first summer seasonal beer, the Not Too Sweet Watermelon Wheat is brewed with fresh local watermelon to sweeten the brew pot.
Further south in the heart of New Orleans is NOLA (New Orleans Lager and Ale) Brewing Company offers names like Hopitoulas IPA, 7th Street Wheat, Hurricane Saison (Summer Seasonal Ale), and Smoky Mary (Fall Seasonal Ale).
In Cajun Country the Parish Brewing Company concocts a beer made with Louisiana’s own Steen’s sugarcane syrup. Located in Broussard, right outside of Lafayette, the nanobrewery prides itself on creating “uncompromised, independent, craft biére” that includes Canebrake (Wheat Ale), Parish Envie (American Pale Ale), Grand Reserve (Barleywine Ale), and Farmhouse IPA (Belgium Style Ale).
Not far away on Highway 31 in the small town of Arnaudville, Bayou Teche Brewing was founded on a simple dream—to craft beers that compliment the unique cuisine and lifestyle of Acadiana. In a converted old rail car near the banks of the Bayou Teche, innovative ales are being crafted true to the brewers’ original intent—LA-31 Bière Pâle, LA-31 Boucanèe, LA-31 Bière Noire, and Passionné.
Southern Food & Beverage Museum (SoFAB)
It is only fitting that a city obsessed with food would have a culinary museum. The Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding, and celebration of the food, drink, and the related culture of the South.
SoFAB is located on the Convention Center side of the Riverwalk Marketplace (best found through the Julia Street Entrance) and features rotating exhibits that feed your mind and make you hungry as well as weekend programs that highlight local culinary products and restaurants.
A collaboration of many, the Museum allows food lovers of all stripes—Southerners and non-Southerners, locals and tourists, academics and food industry insiders—to pull up their chairs and dig into the food and drink of the South.
Louisiana Food Festivals
Louisiana food festivals come in all sizes and descriptions, and for visitors they provide a fantastic opportunity to taste the flavors of the state, feel the rhythm of local tradition, and share authentic cultural experiences with the locals.
The Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival occurs the first weekend in May (May 2-4, in 2014) when the delicious crustaceans are at their most plentiful. All weekend long you’ll enjoy tasting crawfish prepared in every imaginable way—fried, boiled, in an étouffée, bisque, boudin, pie, or jambalaya, and crawdogs, along with other Cajun favorites (shrimp, crab, gumbo, red beans, and rice, just to name a few).
Up north, in Shreveport, a similar scene takes shape during the Mudbug Madness Festival on the Memorial Day Weekend (May 22-25, in 2014).
April is strawberry harvest time in Southeast Louisiana when the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival (April 11-13, in 2014) takes over the streets of its namesake town.
Meanwhile the last full weekend in October is time to celebrate the Sweet Golden Yam (sweet potato) at the Louisiana Yambilee Festival in Opelousas.
The oldest and largest agricultural festival in the state, the Crowley International Rice Festival is an annual event held the third weekend in October (October 17-29, in 2013).
Some festivals honor foods and preparations that have come to symbolize their particular communities year-round. When people talk about pies in Natchitoches they mean the savory turnovers that have been popular here since the late 1700s. Gone are the street vendors chanting “Hotta meat pies! Get your hotta meat pies right here!” But the legend lives on at the Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival each September (September 20-23, in 2013).
Held the first full weekend in October, the Lecompte Pie Festival prides its self on good food, great times, and tons of pies.
No matter what form it takes, a Louisiana food festival will always put the great flavors of this state front and center.
Please Note: This is Part 12 of an on-going series on Louisiana Cuisine/Travel Ideas
I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol.