Oh wow man! So apparently my Daniel Tosh post got a lot of views. Well you’ll be happy to know that I have a lot of opinions about other things, too, and I’ll be posting about those things from time to time, too.
But for now I’m still touring the state, and I’d thought I’d clog your arteries through the internet with some of the food I’m eating.
SHABAM! Look at that! Feel the burn in your throat and on your lips from this creation from a twisted Cajun mind off of I-49 in Lafayette, Louisiana. These are crawfish enchilada with rice and corn. Crawfish is a delicious Louisiana delicacy that tastes like shrimp with a little more natural spice. We have barbecues in other states. In Louisiana, they have crawfish boils. It’s a wonderful fish.
Everything here was spicy and well flavored, and as you can see, the enchiladas were smothered with a delicious cheddar cheese top. Put a cream sauce just under that, mix in some tomatoes and onions, and you have an excellent road trip break.
You can find this treat (along with gator sausage, shrimp, and a whole host of catfish recipes) at the world famous Prejean’s, off exit 4 on I-49.
Prejean’s advertises itself as “the world’s first Cajun themed restaurant.” Now I’m suspicious of this claim. They were founded in 1980, and Wikipedia tells me Cajuns existed long before that. Still, it’s certainly the most famous restaurant in Acadiana, and it eagerly embraces its Cajun rep. You can show up for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Enjoy the decorations, which include plenty of alligators. Smile for your family at the actual webcam for travelers who have come from far and wide to visit the place. And go to the gift shop, where you can buy Cajun spices, seasonings, cookbooks, children’s books, and souvenirs. The place has a bit of a “Cajun Applebee’s” vibe, and I would not recommend making this your only stop in the Bayou if you want a full Cajun experience. But you will get a good meal.
Now say you’re like me, and you regretfully planned your road trip around being in western Louisiana on a Tuesday night. Bad planning, right? No one outside of a major city, is down for partying until 2 A.M. on a Tuesday night. How on earth am I going to enjoy real, live music? Well fear not! Show up around 6:30 and enjoy live Cajun two-steps and waltzes (sung in Cajun) from a solid house band.
Accordion, fiddle, and solid rhythm guitar. The basic model for Cajun folk music for much of the 20th century, and they hold it down here. My one disappointment was they did not clear away the tables for a dance floor. All the more reason to return and enjoy live music at any one of the live venues in Lafayette, Opelousas, or Eunice. Lucky for me, Corey Ledet will be performing zydeco at Floydfest this year in Floyd, VA. So I’m not going to miss out entirely.
Now let’s say for some reason, you can’t make it out to Acadiana, but you will be stopping in the great city of New Orleans. My hope, of course, is that you will be doing this trip right and will be staying for several days, so that you can enjoy the extensive array of culinary options at your disposal. But if you have only one meal, check this out:
asd;;lkadkfh3oi. Sorry, just fell out of bed. That’s a Pressed Spicy Sausage Melt with onions, peppers, and horseradish. There are many places that are more well known than The Grocery on St. Charles and 6th street in the Garden District, but to my mind this is the best meal you can have. Potato salad optional, but I do recommend getting something from Abita while you’re in town. (In this case, I got the root beer. Their Southern Pecan beer is delicious, though, and all of my friends love the Purple Haze.)
The Grocery is only open from 10-4 for most days, so this is definitely a lunch place. The staff is friendly and happy to talk and even take pictures with the customers. The ambiance is also great fun, with great signs and pictures that reflect both New Orleans’ pride and sense of humor.
Now for desert. There are all sorts of New Orleans and southern deserts to be found in this city, all of them wonderful. Kids of the city enjoy snowballs, which are much grander versions of snow cones. I enjoy them, but for me, the only place is the Creole Creamery, an Ice cream store a block from Prytania and Napoleon that features at least a dozen unique flavors, including lavendar honey and creole cream cheese. My favorite is the red velvet cake, and while that makes a pretty dull topping for a cupcake, it mixes wonderfully with their black and gold.
If you’re feeling brave, stay a while and try their Tschoupitoulas Challenge, in which your servers will make you a bowl of 8 baseball-sized scoops (at some point they started serving 1/2 scoops for the health-conscious, but they will not serve them for this challenge) of ice cream and 11 toppings in a large salad bowl. Many have tried it, few have succeeded. I can happily say I accomplished this feat 4 years ago in 2 and a half hours. Yes there are pictures and no you may not see them. If you win, though, you get your name on the Tschoupitoulas Hall of Fame for all eternity. Go to New Orleans and you will find Mr. Universe’s name smacked right up there on July 14, 2008. The record, by the way, is 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I have a hard time believing that person was actually a human being.
Now there’s so much more to New Orleans and the Bayou! You could spend a lifetime here and not discover all of the magnificent restaurants, in part because occasionally, you may need to buy actual groceries and live on a budget. But those are the ones I took on for this trip. Come back some other time for more food. For now, though, time to put on pants and see that old sun.
For a sampling of the music of the Bayou, here’s a video by the supergroup, the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band. Doucet and Savoy are two of the biggest names in the most recent Cajun folk revival. Fiddle player Michael Doucet has a national following in his band, BeauSoleil, which has become the standard bearer for a modern twist on the music. Marc Savoy triples as a great accordion player, professional accordion player, and preserver of Cajun music and traditions. You can go to his Savoy Music Center on Highway 190 in Eunice, Louisiana, and jam with him and other musicians every Saturday morning. (Yup. He’s convinced hundreds of musicians to join him on Saturday mornings for the past 20 years. Musicians. Playing music. Being awake. On a Saturday morning. He’s that good.) His wife, Ann, continues a tradition going back generations of talented women playing guitar in Cajun music.
Here’s a great performance and a clip from an old British documentary I found on the YouTubes. I hope to find some time to talk about what Marc Savoy calls the “melting pot syndrome” a little bit later, but for now, I’m going to let these musicians and their music speak for themselves.