We’re honoring Anthony Bourdain, his curiosity, and sense of adventure following his passing on June 8. This note was taken from Bourdain’s opening narration of one of the final episodes of Season 11: Cajun Mardi Gras, premiering Sunday, June 17 on CNN.
“The thundering hooves of many horses, the sound of a thousand beer cans popping open. And music, always music.
There are parts of America that are special, unique, unlike anywhere else. Cultures all their own, kept close, much loved but largely misunderstood. The vast patchwork of saltwater marshes, bayous, and prairie land that make up Cajun country is one of those places.
While the rest of the USA got stitched together by superhighways, southwestern Louisiana remained relatively isolated. I-10 wasn’t completed until the 1970s, finally connecting this part of the state with New Orleans, Houston, and the rest of the nation. With that came chain restaurants, drive-throughs, and strip malls.
But fear not—it’s still magnificently weird.
Take, for example, Cajun Mardi Gras. Ordinarily, I loathe the idea of Mardi Gras. Any kind of group celebration, anything festive involving dancing fills me with self-conscious dread. Thousands of happy drunks crowding into the French Quarter, for instance? Not for me.
But Cajun Mardi Gras is another thing entirely—closer to the ancient French tradition, vaguely more dangerous, downright medieval. Cajuns do things their way, always have, always will. Whether it’s hanging on to the French language of their ancestors, their music traditions, or food, Cajuns fiercely keep it all vibrantly alive.”
Highlights from Southern Louisiana on Explore Parts Unknown:
- An illustrated guide to preparing crawfish
- A perfect day in Lafayette, Louisiana
- A profile on a thriving Laotian community deep in Cajun country
- A recipe for Boudin, the king of Cajun food
- A dispatch from Avery Island, on how climate change threatens an iconic hot sauce