Dear Floridians

Louisiana state bird enjoys the Florida life

Louisiana state bird enjoys the Florida life

Dear Floridians,

I love your state and have been happy to be a part of it for the last eight years. No, I’m not going anywhere. I just have a simple request. Please stop asking me if I watch Swamp People, or Duck Dynasty, or Cajun Pawn Stars or Bayou Billionaires. Please stop asking if I’m related to anyone on these shows. Please stop asking me if I am Cajun or why I don’t have an accent.

I’ve heard the expression: “Florida is more than just the beach and Mickey Mouse.” Very true. Well, Louisiana is more than just redneck reality shows.

I feel very privileged to have grown up in New Orleans where I was surrounded by an abundance of good food, unique holiday celebrations and a diverse mix of people. For the record, I am not Cajun – not that there’s anything wrong with that. I am Croatian and Italian. Croatians have had just as big an impact on Louisiana seafood as Cajuns. And Italians have had such an influence on New Orleans food culture that they have their own sandwich (Perhaps you’ve heard of the muffaletta.)

Yes, other parts of Louisiana are much more Cajuny than New Orleans. But still, don’t assume that anyone from Louisiana must be Cajun. That’s like assuming that everyone from New York is Jewish. It’s just plain silly.

OK. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I will say a few things in defense of Florida. No, it’s not just the beach and Mickey Mouse. It’s not all sunshine and o.j. I’ve been delighted to find awesome Korean restaurants, great cuban coffee, and friends who know how to throw back raw oysters and gator tail.

Though I am first and foremost a New Orleanian, then a Louisianian, now I am also a Floridian. That’s right. I am one of you. And I will say this one time: Swamp People kicks Duck Dynasty’s butt, and Troy Landry does remind me a little of my uncle.