Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tabasco, Swamps, and a Whole Lot of Crawfish

Day 3 of our trip began in the small town of Ruston, Louisiana where Lydia has some family. We quickly got back on the road and headed south.

View Day 3 in a larger map

View Day 3 in a larger map
After about a 3 hour drive things really started to get interesting. Luckily there were several noteworthy places all in a bunch.

Our first big stop was Vermilionville. It was like a restored villiage/cultural experience to learn about Creole and Acadian cultures. Lydia likes these little historical places where there are costumed interpreters. There were only a couple on this particular day though, so I think she was a little disappointed.

This is what North America looked like in 1750. Right above present-day Maine is the New France colony of Acadia. When the British took over many of the Acadians fled or were expelled. They then traveled all the way to present-day Louisiana where the word "Acadian" became "Cajun". I thought that was a pretty interesting story. 

There was a little shindig going on which provided nice background music while wandering around the grounds.

This was one of the most interesting features of the plant life in Louisiana. According to Wikipedia we are not certain what is the purpose of Cypress knees that jut upward out of the water, but it could be for oxygen access or tree stability.

There were several little wreaths composed of waxpaper flowers on the graves.

This was definitely the creepiest part of the trip. A wreath made of human hair.

Next we headed over to Avery Island to tour the Tabasco factory.

Lydia signing up for some hotsauce junk mail.

Here's a tiny bit of the tour. I was really more interested in getting a bit of the tour guide's voice on tape. She had a very distinct accent.

Here was a mannequin demonstrating how the peppers are hand picked in the fields. The workers hold up a little red stick, le petit baton rouge, up to the peppers to make certain they are the correct ripe shade of red. And so I learned what the capital Baton Rouge's name means. Learning!

Another fun little fact is that the pepper mix is aged in the oak barrels that are left over from the bourbon making process in Kentucky. I remember that from the Bourbon Trail.

E. A. McIlhenny of Tabasco family fame turned much of Avery Island into a wildlife sanctuary of sorts called Jungle Gardens. It was very scenic, and provided us with our best up close look at some alligators.

There was so much Spanish moss around that we played with it a little. We learned in Vermilionville that the locals used to stuff their pillows with it.

I had seen and heard lots of talk about crawfish, so I had been keeping an eye out for them on menus along the way. Our next stop was Breaux Bridge, which just so happens to call itself the crawfish capital of the world.

The downtown area had lots of those cool New Orleans style balconies.

There was more Cajun music and dancing around in circles at a really cool restaurant called Pont Breaux's.

I thought I was ordering like a few crawfish, but apparently ordered all of them. They look really big but once you twist their little bodies apart there isn't really much meat left. They were really good! There was some sort of a fundraiser going on for the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, which sounds completely awesome. We had the distinct pleasure of seeing the Crawfish King and Queen and their gigantic crowns. I thought they should have to wear big red claw gloves too but no dice on that one.


  1. Anonymous1:07 PM

    Were you able to eat all of the crawfish?
    And were they expensive like crab/lobster?

  2. I ate every last one of those things. They look big but the meat is small by shrimp standards once you tear it free. On the menu it's one of those mysterious "market price" deals, but I think it was like 20 bucks or something? It didn't seem like much for the million animals I received.