10 Things People Not From Louisiana Always Get Wrong About Louisiana
Louisiana is a weird and wonderful state, filled with diversity and nuance. Which is why it's so annoying when everyone not from Louisiana gets all of their information about Louisiana from movies that always get everything wrong about Louisiana.
Here are ten of the most common misconceptions about our great state. Be sure to share it with your out-of-state friends before they visit. Because how else will they learn?
New Orleans is a city, not a state
If you believe the movies, then anywhere in Louisiana is pretty much like everywhere in Louisiana, and the entire state is basically just one big city called New Orleans. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. New Orleans has a distinct culture entirely different from what you’ll find as you head farther west into the state, in cities like Baton Rouge or Lafayette or Lake Charles. And if you head north? Forget about it. Everywhere upwards of Interstate 10 might as well be Yankee territory. The only other state that really has to struggle with this kind of misconception is New York with New York City, but the difference here is that the rest of our state is actually worth visiting.
The state of Louisiana is not a giant swamp
No, we don’t all paddle to work in pirogues, and we don’t head down to the store in an airboat. Okay, some of us do. But that’s only in the really swampy parts of the state, which isn’t the entire state. Because we’re an entire state, with distinct geographical regions. We have highways and airports and even the occasional patch of rolling hills here and there, depending on where y'at.
We don’t eat crawfish at every meal
While we might want to, we don’t actually eat crawfish all the time. It’s a popular food, and we do tend to go crazy during crawfish season, but expecting us to eat mudbugs every day would be like assuming people in Buffalo eat nothing but spicy chicken wings all the time. It’s silly, and we’d wreck our delicate digestive systems in no time flat if we did nothing but throw crawfish boils every single day.
Our food is flavorful, not spicy
Throwing cayenne pepper and Tony Chachere’s onto something doesn’t make it Cajun food. Or Creole food. In fact, Cajun and Creole cuisine are two entirely different things, not that anyone outside of Louisiana would be able to tell. Our food isn’t necessarily spicy - it’s just full of flavor. Yeah, sometimes those flavors have a little heat to them, but that doesn’t mean everything we cook will make a Yankee’s face melt off like at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
We don’t really “blacken” our food
Speaking of our food, “blackening” isn’t really a thing that we do. It was a technique created by Chef Paul Prudhomme as part of his signature Cajun-Creole fusion style of cooking that everyone copied and mostly got wrong. Blackening doesn’t mean burning or seasoning something so heavily that you can’t even taste the food anymore. It’s just a method of quick-searing a piece of seasoned meat in a very, very hot cast iron skillet. People do it all the time with steak, even if they don’t realize it. It’s really only when people do it wrong that they think they’re doing it right. But they’re not.
No one actually pronounces it Nawlins
It’s pronounced New-Oar-Lens. It’s not ‘nawlins or New Oar-Leens, or any other fool thing some movie of tv show might have told you. Don’t come down here with that business, or we’re just gonna laugh at you. Just say New Orleans and be done with it. Don’t try to get clever, or you ain’t gettin’ no gumbo.
Our accents are nothing like the movies
No one in Louisiana sounds like we just walked off the set of Gone With The Wind. We either have a standard southern drawl like pretty much everywhere else in the south, or a distinctive cajun accent that also doesn’t sound like anything you’ve heard in the movies. But the most misrepresented accent has to be the “yat” dialect unique to New Orleans, which actually sounds more like something you’d hear in Brooklyn than how you'd probably expect anyone in the South to sound.
Our official state drink isn’t a Hurricane. It’s milk.
Yes. Milk. I know that one’s hard to believe and, to be honest, most of us here in Louisiana don’t really understand it either, but it is what it is. We’re not exactly known as a dairy powerhouse or anything, but milk is somehow our state drink. We have plenty of beverages that were started right here in the Bayou State, but nope. Milk. That’s what we’re going with. With apologies to all the lactose-intolerant folks out there.
We’re not drunk all the time
Well, okay. Most of us aren’t drunk all the time. Sure, we have drive-thru daiquiri shops where you can order an alcoholic drink like you’re getting a half-caf latte at Starbucks, and yeah, you can buy hard liquor in any grocery store or corner quickie mart, but that doesn’t mean we all walk around tipsy every day. Unless maybe it’s Mardi Gras. Then all bets are off.
Every day is not Mardi Gras
Speaking of Mardi Gras: every day is not Mardi Gras. While it’s true we have a Mardi Gras season, Mardi Gras itself is only one day: the day before Ash Wednesday, which we call Fat Tuesday. Which is what Mardi Gras actually means. Mardi = Tuesday and Gras = Fat. Fat Tuesday. ONE DAY.
If you come to Louisiana expecting Mardi Gras in the middle of the summer, you’re gonna have a bad time. Of course, if you come any time between January and Easter, you’ll probably be fine. Because sometimes every day really is Mardi Gras. Except when it isn’t.