Since my sister moved to California 10 years ago, it has been pretty tough convincing her to move back to Louisiana.

While in Los Angeles, she landed a job working in her field, bought a home, married last fall and is now expecting a baby.

Two weeks ago, she and her husband flew into Louisiana to visit. That afforded me the chance to convince the newlyweds that Baton Rouge, with its rich culture, friendly people and delicious food, would be a great place for them to settle.

“Forget Hollywood,” I told my brother-in-law, while he and my sister dined on our fine food, visited a swamp and took in all of the Southern hospitality we could possibly show them in a few days.

Once my brother-in-law tasted his first hushpuppy and a properly seasoned bowl of red beans, black drum and crawfish étouffée at Mike Anderson’s Seafood, he chewed the food as if something magical had happened.

“Booyah! The food never lies,” I told him.

My work was not done, however. We would need to bring them to more eateries and interesting places.

Baton Rouge’s Live After 5 lineup was the perfect solution. There, soul, blues and other music kept us dancing and snapping our fingers near the banks of the Mississippi.

When my father suggested we visit a breakfast diner in Breaux Bridge that featured live zydeco bands and dancing, my brother-in-law’s eyes widened in puzzlement. “What is zydeco?”

I told him, “An experience you will never forget.”

He and my sister found out early Saturday morning as we lined up behind about a dozen other folks waiting to get into this restaurant.

By around 9 a.m., my father, stepmother, children and husband were partnered up and dancing to a string of Zydeco tunes.

In between the dancing, we dined on tasty beignets, café au lait, biscuits stuffed with crawfish au gratin, cheesy grits and omelets.

Though I was pretty convinced that we’d won his heart with south Louisiana food favorites, I knew he needed to see more of our natural environment. My brother-in-law is, after all, a seasoned hiker. He and my sister backpacked their way through the Amazon rainforest on their honeymoon last year and took a safari through parts of Africa several years ago.

Once we boarded Walter Guchereau’s swamp tour boat on Bayou Teche and met “Crooked Jaw” the alligator, it was pretty clear that Louisiana has it all.

We were surrounded by a lush swamp filled with cypress and tupelo, alligators, turtles, eagles, ducks and barred owls.

During our drive back, where we treated them to boiled crawfish, my brother-in-law asked my husband for suggestions on real estate in our area. My sister smiled, and so did I.

Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at