Bayou Culture

crawfish
Bayou Culture – Crawfish

Due to the one-of-a-kind bayou culture, I can’t imagine living anywhere but in South Louisiana. A few of the more extraordinary things about the area are, of course, the FOOD, the music, and the people. We have a very unique ‘gumbo’ of traditions from numerous different cultural influences that somehow meld into one.

The original people of this land were the Houmas tribe. They were themselves many different tribes of Native Americans that lived together as one. Then, there was an influx of Spanish, French, and French Canadian people from the 15th century to the 17th century. Their separate arrivals have made an indelible mark on the regional culture and society. The slaves that were brought to the area with these peoples had a substantial impact on the creation of the local cuisine and music. Of course, with the Port of New Orleans approximately 45 miles from here, there have been many other nationalities that settled in the area.

My own heritage is a microcosm of the local mixture of cultures. My mother’s side of the family is Cajun French and Native American. Both of her parents were from Terrebonne Parish and were from “down the bayou.” My father’s father was French, as his people came directly from France and settled first in New Orleans. His mother was of German descent and her people settled in Iberville Parish. By looking at my bloodlines, you get an idea of how all of these cultures mesh together in our bayou culture.

“Cajun” refers to the people of the southern bayou communities of Louisiana, where descendants of French Canadians or “Acadians” settled. The dialect here can be somewhat confusing to the “outsider.” We may say things like “I got an envie for some crawfish” (hunger), “What’s the bahbin for?” (pouting face), “Stop being a coo-yon” (foolish, stupid), or “mais” (well).

Then, there are certain words and phrases you probably won’t recognize such as boudin (a kind of sausage), boude’ (pout), file’ (dried, powdered, sassafras leaves usually sprinkled on gumbo), hosepipe (water hose), make groceries (buy groceries), tete dure (hard head), and touloulou (fiddler crab).

See my page Cajun vs. Creole for more local flavor.

And, by the way, the word Lagniappe means “a little something extra.”

If you are interested, you can learn more by going to www.houmatravel.com.