This post is a special reminiscence for JoAnn and Doug – and it is all about food (surprise!).
We drove from Mustang Island State Park to up to Rockport to visit with them for lunch today, and spent several pleasant hours discussing our future travels. Doug and JoAnn are heading for Betty’s RV Park in the small town of Abbeville, LA. Odel and I stayed there in March of 2005, and we fondly remembered several culinary experiences from the area – our first in-depth encounters with Cajun food. As we rattled off the names of restaurants and some of their specialties, Doug asked if we could put the specifics in an email.
Once I got home and began looking through photographs, I realized I had too many to attach to an email. Since I wasn’t blogging in 2005, I decided to do an “Abbeville Eating Extravaganza” retrospective. :)
I’ll kick it off with a shocker: I took this photo simply because I couldn’t believe anyone would buy (or sell) hog lard by the gallon (or ounce). I still can’t believe it! What the heck do you do with it? Fuel the motorhome?
First, though, I link that I promised to send to Doug: Life in the Blue Daisy. The Blue Daisy is a converted bus that belongs to the son and daughter-in-law of our mutual friends, Richard and Marlene. The family of five (mom, dad, and sons aged 9, 5 and 2) are traveling through Mexico, and blogging about their travels. This particular link (above) includes a story of the consequences of a wrong turn in a Mexican town… I really laughed when I read it, though I know it didn’t seem at all funny at the time. It is times like that when margaritas are medicinal.
Now, back to food:
Above: Cajun Claws Restaurant – the place to go to eat crawfish.
Below: Diane, Odel and Lloyd… and crawfish!
Above: Our friend Jim enjoying his pistolettes.
On Betty’s recommendation, we – along with our friends Jim and Diane - choose the Cajun Claws restaurant for a crawfish meal. The place was packed, so crowded that we put our names on their waiting list, then went back home for an hour! When we returned, we waited another 20 minutes or so to be seated, at a table for 6. As we tried to make sense of the menu (should we order 3.5 pounds of crawfish, or 5 pounds – and, is that for the table or a single diner??), the hostess approached our table and asked if she could seat a single diner with us – a local regular. We said “sure”, and Lloyd joined us.
Lloyd is a trucker who eats at Cajun Claws every Friday night. Thank goodness he joined us! In no time, he had us straightened out: 3.5 pounds is a small dinner, 5 pounds is large – and they are ordered per diner, NOT per table. He knew the ins and outs of ordering “sides” – boiled potatoes and corn on the cob, half order or full order. He know how to mix together the “my-naze” (mayonnaise to you Yankees), ketchup, and hot sauce the waitress plunked down in front of each of us to produce our customized crawfish dip.
(You might have noticed Diane is wearing vinyl gloves in the photo above. This was a great suggestion – your soft, inexperienced hands will be sore and stained after cracking and peeling 3.5 pounds of crawfish. Also, I didn’t order crawfish – gasp! – and can tell you the fried catfish is delicious!)
Lloyd also knew about the pistolettes: a small slab of vanilla ice cream is inserted in a French roll that has been split in half, then the entire thing is briefly deep-fried. Choose chocolate sauce or lemon sauce as your topping (see top right photo). OMG.
Perhaps the best shrimp po-boys we found were at a little crossroads cafe somewhere near Abbeville (ask Betty) names Suires. Died-and-gone-to-heaven food in what appeared to be the most unlikely spot!
Jim and Diane in front of Suire’s
Suire’s menu sign – would your brake for this?
On another day, we drove to Maurice, LA, for a visit to Hebert’s Specialty Meats (pronounced “A-Bears” – with “specialty meats” in the normal Yankee dialect). Hebert’s specializes in deboned poultry, and is likely to have been the “inventor” of the Turducken, a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck stuffed into a deboned turkey, each separated from the other with a layer of stuffing. I can’t remember everything we loaded into our car, but I know we had a deboned chicken stuffed with rice and sausage, a deboned rabbit stuffed with ???, and a couple of boudin, a cajun rice and meat sausage (click here for a cool map of the “Boudin Trail” through Louisiana), all ready to be roasted and consumed over the next few days.
Standing outside Hebert’s Specialty Meats
These are the offerings at Richard’s Specialty Meats in Abbeville, which sells the pork lard!
Another day: we visited St. Martinville to see the “Evangeline Oak”. The big, beautiful oak tree only captured our attention until we turned around and saw the glowing neon “Hot Beignets” calling to us. Fresh, hot beignets and steaming coffee on a cool day… ‘nuf said??
The graceful “Evangeline Oak”.
Our visit to Louisiana came on the heels of our first trip into Mexico, down the east coast to Veracruz. The Mexico trip was an exciting adventure – a new language, and different culinary traditions. We totally enjoyed ourselves. As we walked around Abbeville a few weeks later, we thought “Why go to Mexico? We can only understand 40% of what they say in Louisiana (is it English?), and the food is all new to us – and delicious!” Really, it was like a different country – no passport required. We can’t wait to get back!