5 Steps to a Cajun Thanksgiving


danielleDanielle Ford is currently pursuing a dual Masters in Higher Education Administration & Public Administration and is a Graduate Assistant for Student Advocacy & Accountability.  
Danielle is from Baton Rouge, LA and studied abroad twice: Paris in 2009 and London, Brussels, & Paris in 2011-2012.

As a Baton Rouge native and LSU alumna, I know a thing or two about Cajun cuisine. As the President of the Thanksgiving Fan Club (not a real thing, but maybe I should invent it!), I’m positive I know a lot about Turkey Day. If this is your first holiday season in Louisiana, there is a lot you should know about how to celebrate a proper Cajun Thanksgiving, and as a self-appointed expert, I’m here to help you out!

1. Dressing, dressing & more dressing! In Cajun Country, we are connoisseurs of dressing of all types: we have cornbread dressing, rice dressing, crawfish dressing, oyster dressing, and andouille sausage dressing just to name a few. Your choice of dressing just might make or break your Cajun Thanksgiving.

2. Turkey does not reign supreme. In many Cajun households, turkey is just one of the many meat options served on Thanksgiving. Traditionally in my family, we prepare deep fried turkey, baked turkey, ham, roasted chicken or Cornish hens, and of course gumbo! It’s not that we don’t love turkey; we do! But when we cook a meal on Thanksgiving, we like to go all out!

pie3. It’s all about the sweet potatoes and pecans. For most Cajun households, we cannot live without some kind of dish made with sweet potatoes and/or pecans. You’ll often find a platter of candied yams, mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato casserole (topped with pecans!) and an assortment of sweet potato and pecan pies – no pumpkin found here!

4. Thanksgiving is for college football. We all know that traditionally, the Detroit Lions play (and lose) their annual Thanksgiving Day NFL game. But in many Cajun households, the biggest sporting event of the year is the annual “Bayou Classic” featuring the Southern University Jaguars against the Grambling State University Tigers. Usually held the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Mercedes-Benz SuperDome in New Orleans, the Bayou Classic is a staple. While many love to watch the longstanding football rivalry come to a head, even more fans salivate for the “Battle of the Bands” competition the night before the game. If you’ve never seen a HBCU’s band play, make sure to turn in during this year’s Bayou Classic Weekend for a real treat! #GeauxJags

5. We Are Family! Thanksgiving is all about family. But if you can’t spend the day with your biological family, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the day. Get a group of friends together and have your own Friendsgiving. If you’re from out of town, see if you can be the guest of a local friend. As long as you bring a few cases of Coke and an empty stomach, you’re sure to be welcomed in with open arms!


P.S.
Here’s a tried and true recipe for Sweet Potato Pie!

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From a Bobcat to a Bengal

IMG_5816Meet Paige Elmlinger, a first-year student in the Master’s of Higher Education Administration program. She earned her Bachelors degree in Communication Studies from Ohio University complemented by a Diversity Studies certificate. An Ohio native, Paige has encountered many cultural differences since moving to Louisiana, which has made for quite the experience!

          Growing up in the Buckeye state I thought I knew what football culture was all about. Football in Ohio was witnessing everyone decked out in Scarlet and Grey on Saturdays (or more importantly Green and White, Go Bobcats!) or hoping for the Browns to pull through with a win on Sunday. Then I moved to Louisiana and began attending a SEC school; I quickly realized football isn’t just a past time down here, it is a way of life.

          I had no idea what to expect when it came to Tiger football- an example for you all to understand how unschooled I was, the first few times I read the motto “Geaux Tigers” I thought it was pronounced “Gee-awwx Tigers”. Being an Ohioan I had a lot to learn as a new Southerner. My first LSU game was a success, LSU defeated Sam Houston 56-0 and my day was filled with sun, food, and great friends! To be honest, my favorite part of sports is the social aspect and I was mainly looking forward to the tailgating aspect of Game Day! Ohio tailgating has nothing on LSU- it was a complete culture shock for me. You could not go a few feet across campus without encountering another tailgate. The campus grounds were filled with tents, music, tailgate games, TVs tuned into ESPN, food, and an insane amount of people- it was jaw dropping!
Tailgating is a huge component of Game Day and here are some tips as a newcomer I have for those who have never experienced the SEC:

1. Traffic: Baton Rouge is infamous for their congested traffic and Game Day is no exception. Leave quite early to get onto campus. You may be unable to take your normal route to campus due to road closings in order for law enforcement to ensure a smooth traffic flow. Also carpool with friends because parking is limited!

2.Game Day Attire: I was so stressed over what to wear for Game Day, but it’s a simple as this: wear what you are comfortable in! You will see outfits ranging from LSU t-shirts and jerseys to purple sundresses with cowboy boots! I definitely recommend wearing something cool since you will be tailgating in the Louisiana heat. The most important part of Game Day attire: it is essential to wear purple and gold! Pair your purple and gold with neutrals such a khaki, white or black

3. Drink water: Drink lots of it! The heat can take the energy out of ya and it is important to stay hydrated! You do not want to pass out in Death Valley!

4. Familiarize yourself with LSU traditions: Especially the Garth Brooks song “Callin’ Baton Rouge”. You’re guaranteed to hear this song multiple times throughout the day and every time Louisianans go crazy! Witness the football team walk down Victory Hill and check out the Golden Band from Tigerland.

5. Have fun and embrace the LSU culture: Step out of your comfort zone! Try new tailgate foods such as meat pies or jambalaya. Join in on “Geaux Tigers” cheers. Walk around campus just to people watch and take it all in!

My first SEC football experience was unforgettable and I can’t wait for the remainder of football season! I hope y’all have a better insight of a Northerner in a Southerner’s world!

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