by Al Wilson & Trevor Johnson, Managing Editor & Features Editor

Grandma says it starts with the roux, the base. The caramel colored goodness which is the beginning of all Cajun cooking. “Stir it low and slow,” she chides. It takes time and variety to make a good pot of gumbo — just like the culture of South Louisiana.

This multi-cultural blending of the French and Spanish, along with Acadians from Nova Scotia, and African-Americans brought as slaves has created a pot of different personalities and cultures that make South Louisiana something unique.

“South Louisiana accepted a lot of immigrants,” says Kathy Dugas, a history professor at Nicholls State University. “Even though there was a lot of prejudice, there was an acceptance of their cultures.”

And in the heart of South Louisiana, sits Thibodaux, a place Readers Digest in 2018 named as the most charming town in Louisiana. And while the area may seem sleepy, in 2014, Forbes ranked Houma-Thibodaux as the eighth fastest-growing small town in the country. So while many tourists traveling to Louisiana are consumed with New Orleans, they may miss out on something truly unique — the bayou region. The Spring 2019 issue of Garde Voir Ci, Living Local, explores what it’s like to experience South Louisiana as an outsider, from an insider’s perspective.

Living local is really just about exploring the region’s culinary culture, landmarks and businesses as well as its art and music.

The culinary element of the magazine highlights the homegrown restaurants, food spots and drinks of the area, detailing both the deep history and rich tastes of South Louisiana. This includes a map that pinpoints essential locations and how to spice up your experience — while visiting or even back home.

While the food is one of the main draws for the area, the deep history and unique businesses of the region drive the culture forward. From historical spots like museums and the sugar cane business, to popular tourist destinations like plantations and Mardi Gras, this issue provides a comprehensive guide for a diverse journey.

New Orleans is often considered the artistic powerhouse of the state, but the bayou region offers a more grassroots experience. Unlike the Big Easy, which has become the most recognizable part of Louisiana to the rest of the country, South Louisiana music and art has retained its Cajun DNA and really round out the Cajun trinity. They are an essential ingredient to the true South Louisiana lifestyle. Whether it is the entertainment to accompany the great food or provide businesses with artwork, South Louisiana’s music and art allow the culture to sing.

Living local is the best tour guide for South Louisiana, making any visit a truly local experience. Whether whipping up some crawfish sauce piquant or blasting “The Boudin Song” on the way to work, this issue will help you carry some South Louisiana with you wherever you go.