Lafayette (pics) is the heart of Cajun country. It is the hub for a number of communities in southwestern Louisiana stretching to the Gulf.
We learned that the Cajuns are descendants of the Acadians who were 17th-century French colonists that migrated to Acadia, a part of the Canadian Eastern provinces. In the early 1700’s they came under British rule but eventually were expelled from Acadia. Many died during their forced deportation and the remainder were scattered. A portion of these survivors later settled in Louisiana and over time the term Acadian morphed into Cajun. In Lafayette they have created an area called Vermilionville which represents what an early Cajun village might have looked like. The homes which are 200 to 300 years old are all original construction that were relocated to this site.
One of the food items unique to this part of Louisiana is “boudin” which is a type of sausage originated in France. The Cajun version is made with pork, rice, onions and peppers which are ground into a soft consistency and stuffed into a sausage casing. The stuffing is fully cooked prior to being put into the casing so they only need to be heated before eating. Of course we had to try it and found it to be delish. They also make boudin balls which is the stuffing formed into a ball, breaded and deep fried. We didn’t try these but I’m guessing that they are really good.
Lafayette also has one of the oldest live oak trees in the United States. It is 500 years old and stands on the grounds of Lafayette’s St. John Catholic Church. It has a circumference of 28 feet 9 inches and its largest limb is estimated to weigh 72 tons.