The Mississippi Delta
The Civil War is a recent memory and blues legends loom large in the cotton fields and swamp towns of the lower Mississippi Delta.
After a breakfast of cracklin' (fried pork rinds), boudin (sausage), eggs, and hoghead cheese (a terrine made from pig-skull scrapings), we drive to Lake Martin to meet Walter "Butch" Guchereau ofCajun Country Swamp Tours.
We spend two hours in a crawfish skiff, maneuvering through mazes of water hyacinths and cypress trees, their branches dripping with gray-green tangles of Spanish moss. I've never seen so many species of birds: great blue herons, purple gallinules, Mississippi kites, white ibis, and a peregrine falcon. I know I should be more excited by the alligators sitting on logs, but for me the birds are the highlight.
Breaux Bridge claims to be the crawfish capital of the world, so after the swamp tour, we go toCaféDes Amisfor lunch. Zydeco musicians play during Saturday breakfasts, which would have been a fitting end to our musical journey. Since it's a Wednesday, I have to settle for a crawfish-stuffed chicken breast topped with étouffée. All in all, not a terrible trade-off.
- Bayou Cabins 100 W. Mills Ave., Breaux Bridge, La., 337/332-6158, bayoucabins.com, from $60
- CaféDes Amis 140 E. Bridge St., Breaux Bridge, La., 337/332-5273, cafedesamis.com, chicken $15
- Cajun Country Swamp Tours 1226 N. Berard St., Breaux Bridge, La., 337/319-0010, cajuncountryswamptours.com, $20, kids $10
Finding Your Way
Route 61 from Memphis to Baton Rouge is the main highway through the Delta. More scenic drives include the Great River Road (Route 1) from Helena to north of Vicksburg, and the Natchez Trace Parkway.