Louisiana Rambles

Exploring America’s Cajun and Creole Heartland

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Chapter Excerpts & More

Selected chapter excerpts from the book

Introduction

Rambles and Revelations

The Complete Introduction from Louisiana Rambles

I had a hazy awareness of south Louisiana outside of New Orleans, and periodically I would take a road trip down the interstate to some specific destination in Cajun country. But as much as New Orleans seemed to stand apart from the rest of America, it also felt distinct from the rest of Louisiana. I had only the sketchiest idea of what made up south Louisiana between the highways. It was as if I lived in Vatican City but couldn’t find my way around Rome. more…

Chapter 3

Airboats and Alligators

Swamp Tours and Louisiana’s Favorite Dinosaur

Thirteen-year-old Zamariah “ZZ” Loupe led me on the official backyard tour of his family’s home in Kraemer, a thread of a town running through deep Lafourche Parish swamp country. “Now do you want the whole tour, or do you just want to see the alligator?” he asked me. more…

Chapter 7

Andouille Ever

Sausage Road Trips and a Kitchen Divided

The floodgates of full-blown sausage mania were groaning, and after a few formative trips to the porcine promised land of central Acadiana those gates would bend back on their hinges. more…

Chapter 11

The River Rats

Riverine Pub Crawls Around Livingston Parish

The club was a low, small, humble building with a big covered deck facing the water. It sported a letter board sign advertising drink specials and band schedules, not to any street traffic but rather to boaters like us cruising past. This is Louisiana’s most intense river rat country, and I was touring with its chief impresario, River Rat Rob. more…

Chapter 14

Cast-Iron Cajun Culture

Acadian Journeys and Jam Sessions

It’s one thing to appreciate tradition and it’s another to feel it bumping through the tight points in your circulatory system, making you feel alive and eager to participate, which is just what these kinds of Cajun cultural close encounters always do to me. more…

Chapter 18

Saddle Sounds

Dusty Dance Floors and Creole Trail Rides

I had only the sketchiest idea of what a Louisiana trail ride might be like, an impression based mostly on teaser references dropped by zydeco musicians during a few interviews I’d conducted. They described Sunday afternoon outdoor parties with tons of beer, boudin and pork chop sandwiches, an all-ages crowd, urban cowboys everywhere, and hour upon hour of dusty-boot dancing in fields and barns to zydeco from the best players around. To me, their descriptions made the events sound like rural, zydeco- and horse-based versions of the second line parades I had discovered with such utter glee back in my adopted home city. more…