Louisiana passed through the hands of numerous European powers and traded with Caribbean countries on its way to forming a unique identity among these United States. Today's culture is an Americanized blend of French, Spanish, African, and Latin influences. The piney North has its own character more similar to the rest of the Deep South, while those in southern Louisiana have strong Acadian roots. One of the the most music and food-centric places on the planet, New Orleans dominates the culture of east Louisiana. Its bar scene is unparalleled and goes all night, all the time. You can get beautiful French pastries at unpretentious coffee shops in the French Quarter, or grab free red beans and rice on a Monday night while watching bar bands on Esplanade Street. Hang out in the Marigny for upscale beers, Latin music and dance, and a gay-friendly environment. Catch acts like Jon Cleary or the Rebirth Brass Band at uptown venues like Tipitina's, named after a Professor Longhair song. You can also catch a free ferry between the French Quarter and Algiers Point to enjoy the Mississippi and stroll around a small neighborhood on the West Bank of the river. You can eat vegan at a hippie pizzeria, get organic coffee and juice, or get gluten-free baked goods in Baton Rouge. On the North Shore of New Orleans, you can buy sprouts and microgreens, or have dishes made from local organic produce. Try some establishments that embody the spirit of cuisines that have been influential on the New Orleans food scene. You can get organic Latin American food with tropical fruit and vegan options in the Warehouse District, vegetarian-friendly African cuisine in Mid-City, and Spanish tapas uptown. Beer and wine are widely available, including at some of the most back-to-nature restaurants. Considering the nature of New Orleans, it's not surprising that alcohol is considered part of a healthy, balanced diet.