While we often think of places far away as more foreign, Anthony Bourdain regularly showed us that even within our own country, there’s a great diversity of culture and cuisine to explore. Such is the case for the time he spent in Cajun Country; it’s clear from his trips to this part of Louisiana that he is enamored by the region and trying to understand it the way he did far-flung destinations.
Anthony Bourdain visited Cajun Country three times: to film season 2 (episode 2, “No Beads, Babes, Bourbon”) of A Cook’s Tour, season 7 (episode 16, “Cajun Country”) of No Reservations, and season 11 (episode 7, “Cajun Mardi Gras”) of Parts Unknown.
While Cajun Country isn’t usually a destination in its own right, it’s still a place you might want to explore – and you might want to try and eat at the same places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Cajun Country. Below you’ll find a guide to each, as well as what he ate. Even if you don’t follow in his exact footsteps, you can still seek out these flavors and dishes when exploring Louisiana.
Want to watch the episodes where Anthony Bourdain visits Cajun Country?
The A Cook’s Tour episode is available for free on YouTube, the No Reservations episode is available on Amazon, Hulu, and AppleTV, and the Parts Unknown episode is available on Amazon and AppleTV.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Houma, Chitimacha, and Chawasha peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
A Cook’s Tour (2002)
During Tony’s first trip to New Orleans way back at the beginning of his career, he does take one foray about of the city and into the Bayou. Specifically, he goes on an airboat hunting tour with Zam’s Swamp Tours.
After striking out trying to find an alligator, Bourdain returns with his host to a dodgy kitchen set up to try ‘gater nuggets with cayenne pepper sauce: “I hate to say it tastes like chicken, that’s such a cliche, but it’s kind of chicken-y.”
No Reservations (2011)
Tony’s next return to “Cajun Country” happens in an episode of the same name; he does spend some time in NOLA again, but much more time out learning about Cajun culture and food.
The main spot Bourdain eats in Cajun Country during this visit is Glenda’s Creole/Cajun Kitchen in Breaux Bridge. Here, he tries a number of dishes iconic to this area, including crab, shrimp, and okra; catfish court bouillon; and stuffed turkey wing with onion, cayenne, garlic, and salt jammed into the meat.
He then has a few local dining experiences: first, he enjoys a crab, crawfish and sausage boil at the home of chef Patrick Mould. Then, he spends two days with a group of amateur cooks prepping for – and then enjoying – a boucherie. He eats very well at this traditional potluck-style event, including corn hash, stuffed duck and gravy, turtle stew, and another crawfish boil.
On the day of the boucherie itself, Tony has the honor of killing the pig, which is butchered and literally turned snout-to-tail into many dishes: pig pie, frezus, barbeque rib and loin, boudin (blood and rice sausage), andouillette (tripe sausage), cracklins, and pork backbone stew.
Parts Unknown (2018)
Bourdain’s final visit to the area is for his “Cajun Mardi Gras” episode during Parts Unknown; during this trip, he spends even more time exploring the area and thus there are several spots to recommend if you’re heading to the area.
First up, he heads to Billy’s Boudin with Toby Rodriguez (owner of Lâche Pas Boucherie & Cuisine), whom he met during the boucherie in No Reservations. The pair try the “boudin ball,” which is pepper jack cheese and stuffed sausage, battered and fried… needless to say, it’s not great for your cholesterol! They also have cracklins and cold beer, essentials for starting the day in this part of the world – especially when Mardi Gras is approaching.
In addition to exploring Cajun culture, Tony also spends time learning about Creole culture – the two are very different.
Joined by historian, radio DJ, and journalist Herman Fuselier, Creole cowboy Dave Lemelle, musician and business owner Sid Williams, Bourdain visits Laura’s II and learns about black culture in this part of the south, and how Creoles might rightly be considered America’s first cowboys.
The group enjoys rice and gravy, fried fish, ribs, and smothered stuffed turkey wings during their conversation.
Finally, Bourdain makes a stop at Suire’s Grocery on his way out of Cajun Country. Here, he digs into a few other special dishes from the region that he knows, loves, and hasn’t tried yet. Specifically, he orders an oyster po’boy, crawfish étouffée, pecan pie, and beer to wrap up his visit to the area – and then enjoys them in this market/restaurant.
Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Cajun Country? Let me know in the comments below!