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Many visitors to Louisiana believe that they have received a good look at Cajun Country when they visit New Orleans. And they are right. But to see Cajun culture in its purest form, head out to Lafayette and Central Louisiana, where old traditions live on. The people are tremendously friendly and even though various changes have put more pressure on this culture, many of them still speak Cajun French, a dialect very distinct from traditional French. As recently as several years ago, a U.S. Congressman from this area had a translation of his official website in Cajun French, showing the pride and survival tied in with the local culture. The language can be heard on several of the local radio stations as well, which tend to play classic Cajun music styles like Zydeco, an unbelievably catchy and danceable up-tempo accordion-based sound that the locals love to dance to every weekend. The word "Zydeco" comes from the French word for bean, "haricot," because just like the local beans, the music has quite a "snap" to it.
While New Orleans tends to provide more of a gourmet or upscale sampling of Cajun food, the area around Lafayette is home to dozens of locally famous small eateries, some of them having been open for many decades, that will provide huge portions of authentic delicacies like crawdads and assorted "swamp food" like alligator and turtle, at a very reasonable price, often with some music and dancing at night.
The people of Cajun country love to celebrate, they love life, and they love to eat well, and all of this is reflected in a visit to the Lafayette area.
For more detailed information regarding the rich culture and heritage that Cajun Country has to offer, click here to visit LCVC's website, the official tourism resource for Lafayette and Acadiana.