memories: a visit to Baton Rouge.

then there was the year we decided we should really see more of Louisiana than a few food-and-music-filled days in New Orleans. This was before the Hurricane, before the Flood...

Anyway the plan was to drive from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, taking in sights and scenery along the way, hit at least one crawfish boil and get us some Cajun music in or near Baton Rouge, and return to New Orleans for a flight North.

First stop: a former sugar cane plantation, now re-decorated as a stately home, with parking and costumed docents. Um, not really my thing.

Next stop: a small dock from which one could board a small boat and have a Swamp Tour and observe the presence of alligators, muskrats, nutria. It is sometimes said of the Cantonese that they can season up and cook anything and make it really delicious, and that attitude toward Nature's Bounty seems to be part of the Cajun tradition as well. I sympathize with the history of persecution, with the loss of language and homeland, with the need to make the best of whatever you can pick, shoot or trap, but I seriously don't recommend Nutria Etouffé. Nutria is a webfooted rat.

Next stop: by the side of the road arguing about why the map that came with the rental car didn't show which of the roads to Baton Rouge were paved. Our conclusion: the money for paving had run out or otherwise disappeared. The map didn't need to distinguish.

Next stop: a chain motel with a paved parking lot. We heard a lot of French (French French) spoken in the lobby, apparently the place was very popular with tourists from France, many of whom seemed surprised to learn that Louisiana no longer belongs to France and hasn't for a long time.

(Here I digress, to note that long after French colonial rulers departed Haiti, the beginning history textbook that was still used in the few remaining Haitian schools kicked off with these immortal words: Nos ancêtres les Gaulois étaient grands et robustes, avec une peau blanche comme du lait, des yeux bleus et de longs cheveux blonds ou roux qu'ils laissaient flotter sur les épaules. I translate: our ancestors, the Gauls, were tall and strong, with milk-white skin, blue eyes and blond or red hair that fell to their shoulders in soft waves. One wonders what the little Haitian children concluded from that.) 

Meanwhile back in Louisiana - we checked in, we followed a few small trucks to a large barn-like structure, parked and sat down to tubs of boiled crayfish and pitchers of beer. Heaven. Lots of Tabasco, lots of other hot seasonings, bib, hands, paper towels... Finally, stuffed, we decided to wash up and get back in the car and explore a little. Himself headed for the Men's, and I dealt with the bill. A few minutes later, I saw him tottering across the dining room, he looked like he'd seen a really nasty ghost and he could barely walk. 

It seems that on his way to the sink, he decided to, um, spend a penny, forgetting that he was in the men's room in the first place because both his hands were covered with hot red pepper sauce. We headed right back to the motel where he stood under the shower for a really long time.

The next day we decided to do something blander. We visited a recreation of a small Cajun settlement, where costumed volunteers demonstrated the trades and crafts of times gone by. Loom, spinning wheel, sheep, wash tubs. Axes, shovels, scythes. Woodwork. Kitchen gardens, tomatoes, green peppers, green onions, celery. Berries. Further out from the cabins, cash crops. Subsistence farming, hunting, trapping. Blacksmith. Gunsmith. Knife sharpening. Herbal remedies, herbal dyes. 

Our fellow visitors trudged beside as we searched hopefully for barrels or a cooper or other indicia of how the hunters and craftsmen dealt with thirst. Our guide caught up with us and asked if anyone had questions. One lady beat us to the punch. Her question: with all these hobbies and activities, when did the settlers find time to go to work?

No comments:

Post a Comment

As Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, if you've got anything bad to say, sit next to me! No, really, please remember to be kind, and don't say anything fred's mother would not approve of (Diner's mom didn't approve of anything. Including fred.)
Wellfedfred and the Whining Diner reserve the right to edit or delete any comments submitted to this blog without notice if we find:
1. Comments deemed to be spam or questionable spam
2. Comments including profanity or objectionable language
3. Comments containing concepts that could be deemed offensive
4. Comments that attack a person individually
and since there's been a flood of spam lately, we're trying the Robot thing to see if we can block some spam...