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The ABCs of Festival Season in Louisiana

French Quarter Festival

French Quarter Festival Sign

It’s festival season in Louisiana! For those unfamiliar with what exactly this means, it means it’s time to indulge in good food, listen to amazing music, hang out with great friends and just celebrate Louisiana life. Although we generally do this all year long. In fact, festivals go on in every month down here.

To put you in the festival spirit, I’m sharing my Louisiana festival knowledge (and I’ve learned a lot from researching this post) — from Abita to Zydeco.

Abita — One of the best beers to come from Louisiana. It’s no surprise it’s readily available at most of the festivals in the state. More importantly, festival season coincides with Abita Strawberry Harvest season — a beer brewed with local strawberries.

Bands — From local musicians to international acts, bands from all over come to play the festivals of Louisiana.

Crawfish — It’s no secret we love us some crawfish in Louisiana. The food reflects that. From crawfish pie to crawfish bread to just plain boiled crawfish, you can’t go to a festival without ordering something crawfish-related. And in case you’re wonder, there’s a whole festival dedicated to mudbugs called the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival.

Crawfish Gumbo

Crawfish is always popular in Louisiana.
Photo by Jon Sullivan

Daiquiris — Festival fun aside, it gets hot. And there’s no better way to cool off than with a frozen daiquiri. Bonus points if it’s made using real fruit.

Etouffee — A delicious Louisiana dish made with seafood or chicken, rice and a spicy gravy. A cousin to jambalaya. You’ll probably find both at any festival you attend.

Flags — Some festivals are so packed you have to make your own meeting point. That’s when a flag comes in handy. Just set up your chairs, attach your flags and tell your friends to gather under your flag. The more unique it is, the easier you are to find.

Gueydan — Every year in August, the folks of Gueydan hold their annual Duck Festival.

Hot Sauce — You’ll find it at every festival food vendor. Whether it’s Tabasco, Crystal, Louisiana or another brand, don’t forget to add it to your food. And yes, there is a Cajun Hot Sauce Festival.

Steamboat Natchez

Cruise around the Mississippi River aboard the Steamboat Natchez during French Quarter Festival or JazzFest.

International — Louisiana festivals aren’t just for locals, they attract visitors from around the globe. Lafayette even hosts a Festival International de Louisiane.

JazzFest — The biggest and probably most well-known festival in Louisiana. For two weekends each year, the New Orleans Fairgrounds are transformed into a humongous festival with a variety of musicians, tons of food vendors and lots of arts and crafts. JazzFest regularly attracts hundreds of thousands of people.

Kids — All the Louisiana festivals are fun for the whole family.

Lecompte — Known for the Lecompte Pie Festival, this town’s festival has my favorite festival slogan: “A slice of Louisiana is waiting for you.”

Money — Get out your wallet. Festivals are fun, but they aren’t all that cheap. Especially when you want to try a lot of dishes and have a few drinks. Most are free for admission, but if not, that will set you back as well.

Natchitoches — Home of the Natchitoches Christmas Festival. Lots of lights and holiday cheer at this festival. If it looks/sounds familiar, you may recognize it from the movie Steel Magnolias.

Oysters — Another of Louisiana’s treasured foods. Shuck ’em and enjoy them on the halfshell or find them cooked into a gumbo.

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake with fresh Louisiana strawberries at the Pontchatoula Strawberry Festival.

Pontchatoula — Home of the best strawberries on Earth so it makes since that Pontchatoula is host to the Pontchatoula Strawberry Festival. You’ll find strawberry drinks and desserts galore at this one.

The Queens — A festival isn’t complete without a beauty queen to reign over it. This is the South after all.

Rayne — Home of my favorite festival theme: the Rayne Frog Festival. When you’re at a festival about frogs, how can you not have a good time?

Shrimp — Seafood is king in Louisiana and shrimp are at the top of the seafood list at most festivals. There’s even a Shrimp and Petroleum Festival in Morgan City.

Tevas — These ugly-ass sandals are all over the place at most festivals. If you have a pair, my apologies, but they just aren’t flattering — on anyone.

Umbrella — Sure, you may need it in case it rains, but what you really need it for is to generate shade of some sort.

Variety — You’ll find this in every aspect of a festival. The music, the food, the people, the theme, the rides. Most festivals have a little something for everyone.

Watermelon — Is there a better summer fruit? No wonder the town of Farmerville holds the Watermelon Festival every year.

Xylograph — X is always a hard one, but a xylograph is a wood carving. You’ll find them at most arts and crafts areas of festivals. Take home one with your name on it…literally.

Yambilee — Sweet potatoes are also abundant in Louisiana and Yambilee in Opelousas showcases the bright orange tubules.

Zydeco — The famous Cajun music is guaranteed to be playing at a stage near you when you attend a Louisiana festival.

Do yourself a favor and visit Louisiana and one of these fine festivals. I promise you’ll have a great time.

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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Livin'

 

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Recipe: Crawfish and Andouille Sausage Grits

Fresh Louisiana crawfish (don’t even think about using Chinese tails), smoky Andouille sausage, roasted garlic and the best grits in the world combine to make a great dish that’s a perfect addition to any brunch.
The challenging part will be exercising the patience necessary to wait for the grits to finish cooking. And don’t even think about using anything but high-quality, stone-ground grits.

Crawfish and Andouille Sausage Grits Ingredients

Crawfish and Andouille Sausage Grits Ingredients


Ingredients

  • 1 pound Louisiana crawfish tails
  • 1 cup Andouille sausage (I use Jacob’s World Famous Andouille from LaPlace, La.)
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits (I use white grits from Sciple’s Water Mill in Dekalb, Miss. which has been in continuous operation since 1790. And yes, they’re that good…)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Abita Amber (you can drink the rest)
  • 1 head of garlic (peeled)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • Salt, pepper and Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning to taste

Directions:

Louisiana Crawfish Tails in the Grits

My favorite part? Adding in the Louisiana crawfish tails.

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Break up peeled head of garlic and roast on an oven-safe plate (about 12 minutes).
  2. While garlic is roasting, melt 2 TBSP of butter on low heat in large saucepan or Dutch Oven. When butter is melted, pour in grits and stir to coat.
  3. Add in all liquids (heavy cream, Abita Amber and chicken broth) and stir and simmer on low.
  4. When garlic is finished roasting, combine garlic, crawfish, Andouille, cream cheese, seasoning and remaining butter into grits. Leave to simmer, stirring every 5 minutes over low heat for about an hour until grits are creamy.
  5. Season to taste and serve immediately.

Simmering All the Ingredients

Simmer all the ingredients over low heat




This dish is a guaranteed brunch hit, but it’s appropriate for any meal time. You can also reheat any leftovers to make this one-pot wonder last. To reheat, stir in 1/4 cup of liquid of your choice and simmer over low heat until grits are heated through.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in Brunch, Cookin', Recipes

 

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