Our country’s landscape is rich and mysterious. It is filled with twisting bayous, backwater lakes, vast marshes, and America’s largest river swamp. We have fields of sugar cane and cotton, ancient live oaks and towering cypress. Alligators, raccoons, and even bears roam our lands while 270 species of birds take to our skies. From our waters come catfish, shrimp, oysters and the crawfish that make us so well known.
From this bounty, our country has created food unique to the entire world. Our cuisine is an intricate mixture of European as well as African and Native American descent using ingredients such as roux, picante, the trinity – onion, bell pepper and celery, filé, and tasso. We make boudin, gumbo, étouffée, and gateau sirop.
With food comes celebration. Our country’s musicians have inspired the world of rock and roll, country, gospel and rockabilly. Our native music is a complex melding of culture to create the Cajun rhythm and the staccato of zydeco. We use the frottoir, accordion, triangle and fiddle. We dance the two-step, waltz, and jig.
The music and food are emblems of our country’s rich culture. From the Diaspora of L’Acadie in Canada and colonial French influence comes our French speaking tradition. This melded with our deep Native American and African American roots created our Cajun dialect. Ours is a history of man and nature in an often-foreboding and always majestic environment. Our history and culture remain intact and we celebrate it with a joie de vivre unmatched in other lands. Our country is vast and varied but we share the story of water and swamp, man and survival around the river we call the Atchafalaya, still traveling our waters as did our forebears.
We invite you to journey through our country and explore our mysterious landscape, dine on our rich cuisine, celebrate with our music, and immerse yourself in our culture. Our country requires no passport, because our country is right here in America.
The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area - America’s Foreign Country