Ragin Cajun Country

December 10, 2012 - Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, United States

Hello once again my friends .....

About halfway through my stay in Cajun country and thought an update for "y'all" would be in order.   Lots to tell you .... a few pictures, and even a few videos for those able to see them on their computers.   Not sure how that will come out of my iphone, but worth trying.   Give it a try.

Made my way down to Louisiana on 12/3 and will be moving on come 12/15.

I have found this area to be of enormous interest and have learned more than I really thought I would about the people, music, food and history.   These folks do seem to suffer from a bad case of poor self image because everywhere I turn they are seemingly trying to apologize for their conditions and explain their dubious history.   One thing that jumps out at you right away, is their conditioned use of French language.   They seem to revel in it as if it was a badge they can point to and hold on to.   Don't get me wrong .... it is beautiful and all .... maybe the street signs in french is a little over the top, but hey, just sayin.  

Got my first real taste of rain since leaving home and what followed was a humidity level that is distinctive to this near coastal community for sure.   An hour later the heat turned on and it was 80 degrees with high humidity.   Took me a little while to figure it out, but hey, guess what .... I do have air conditioning in my truck so .... click, on it went.    I know that is going to sound a little condescending especially to my friends in Minnesota.  (Danny just sent me a photo of 15 inches of snow in his backyard)(Sorry)(Sort of)  :)

Just got a call from my buddy Mark Grovak (college roommate) and it was so great to hear from him.   Hope you enjoy this journal Mark and that you and Marianne get to experience a trip like this in the near future.

Couple things really jump out at you when you enter Louisiana .... at least they do for a northern boy like me.    They have "Drive Through Licquor" stores here !!!   Not just drive up and buy a bottle, etc. ..... they will actually make you a drink and hand it through the window.   Seems that it is not illegal to drink and drive in LA .... you just can't be drunk.  I think I will like it here.   I kept seeing these signs for Drive thru Daquiri's .... and it was spelled everything from Dacquiri to Daquri to Dacquirie to Dacurie.    Not sure if any of that is french, but ????    Another thing I noticed was the enormous number of Baptist churches.   They were everywhere.   Lotta bible banging going on down here apparently.    It also appeared they like their Catfish down here because they "grow them" on farms.   There were signs for Catfish farms everywhere and trucks running around with signs on them saying "Live Fish" inside.   I was not as surprised then when my campsite eventually was actually a RV Park .... slash .... Fish Farm.   My eventual home.     Oh ...... and the speed traps were everywhere too.    I didn't get a picture in time, but some residents even felt sorry for us tourists so they had signs in their yards announcing a speed trap up ahead.   Now that is Southern Hospitality, eh !!!!

Finally arrived at my new home .... Poche's RV Park and Fish Camp.   Got the rig set up in a beautiful lot right on the lake.   This was to be such a nice location.    The people here were very nice but it took me a while to figure out they don't call it "poaches" like Ricky Roche, but rather "po-shays".    Had to apologize for that.   Hope we don't have to all start calling Ricky ... Ricky "Ro-Shay".    The local town is kind of the "hub" of Cajun and Creole music ..... "Breaux Bridge".    I was in the right place.   My research had paid off.

Went into town on Wednesday night to have some dinner and to see Lee Benoit play at Cafe Des Ami's restaurant.   The band set up right in the restaurant window and the place was pretty full of what appeared to be a mix of locals, tourists and winter RV'ers.   Lee played mainly Creole style music .... lots of waltzes and a little upbeat zydeco too.    They weren't great but a good first taste of Cajun for me.    Dinner was fabulous .... had catfish with jambalaya.   You can see and hear Lee by going to videos up above and selecting "Cajun Music (Creole Style) at Cafe Des Ami. right now.

One day I decided I wanted to try to eat at one of the "locals" places and not the restaurants in town.   Thought lunch would be a good start.    I asked the owner of the Camp what she might recommend and she directed me to her sister's market/deli/restaurant just down the road a bit.   It was appropriately named "Poche's Market".   They sold almost everything there that a guy like me might want or need.   It was kind of a "cafeteria style restaurant" and so you just walked up to the counter much like you would at Coborn's in Princeton and order what you wanted.   You pay there then sit at big tables and they bring out your order.   I ordered a Chicken/Sausage Gumbo bowl.   This will be hard to describe.   It was a gigantic bown that came along with about 2 cups of white rice.   I was instructed by the server (she must have sensed I was not from around there!) that I just dumped the rice into the gumbo right before eating it.  The gumbo was a dark brown rue with big hunks of chicken and pieces of andouille sausage.   The flavor was like nothing I had tried before and when the rice was mixed in I wondered how I was going to eat it all.  I DID.   So good .... I could see this was going to be a favorite of mine.   I looked over all the other items for sale.   They had alligator, crawfish, shrimp, sausages, Boudin (a kind of pork spiced meatball), cracklins (basically fried pork skin)(might as well tape it to your ass) and so many more things.   It was available frozen along with your mandatory head cheese and pig heads and pigs feet. (I bet    They have a saying here that the whole pig is good here .... they even have it on their t-shirts.   I'm thinking I will have to get some of that Gumbo to go and bring it with me to Jake and Aggies to share with them over Christmas.    Jake would love that.    Thought of Howie of course and his love of sauces .... he would have drooled into his bowl for sure.   Sure hope I can figure out a way to bring him some.  Poche's Market was a big hit.

Friday night I made a drive into Baton Rouge and north to Zachary, LA to go to one of the few remaining true "Juke Joints" of the south ...... "Teddy's Juke Joint".    Going to hear the Josh Garrett Band, Bryan Lee and then down to Henderson, LA to catch Geno Delafose play some dancin tunes at Pat's Fisherman's Wharf Club.   Teddy's was out in the sticks and was what you might expect of a Juke Joint.    Sat at the bar with a beer and was approached by Teddy himself asking me where I was from.   (I think my shorts gave me away)   We talked about where I had been and reminisced about T Model Ford in Greenville, MS.   He was so nice and gave me a total tour of his place including the kitchen and meeting his wife Nancy.   Teddy has owned the place for over 30 years and many big names have played there.   He still gets top notch talent and his bar is just covered in memorobilia like signed guitars and saxaphones, etc.  We talked and shared stories for quite a while as the band set up.    Once Josh started playing he certainly had my attention ..... he was fabulous.   A great guitarist .... go to Video's above and choose "Josh wild on guitar" and "Josh Garrett at Teddy's" to get a taste of his music.   Danny will really appreciate the guitar skills and not to worry Danny .... I got one of his CD's signed and will see you in Phoenix to share it with you.   Here is a photo of the man ... Teddy himself and the Northern Tourist .... bar pics don't always turn out so good, but hey .....

teddy

Teddy had Bryan Lee playing that night also and I thought he was pretty good too.  He was a little more rock and roll, but could really play the guitar.    Found out just before I left that Bryan is also blind!!!   That really amazed me ..... he did wear sunglasses but didn't appear to be blind.   I can't imagine the skill it takes to play without sight .... I play poorly enough "with" sight.   Forgot to take a pic of Bryan but he was very, very good.

It was getting late, but made my way down the highway back towards my camper and a stopover in Henderson, LA to Pat's Fisherman's Wharf Club.   Made my way down this back road which ended ..... well, at a swamp basically.   The club was built right on piers on the swamp and the Atchafalaya Bayou.   Big club with an enormous dance floor just full of white folks stomping and moving about.   Kind of a red neck place basically.   Interesting side light ..... I felt less safe there with those red necks than any of the very poor black communities I had experienced.  Just sayin.  Anyway, listened to Geno Delafose Band.   Now, you might assume this white red neck place with an entirely white crowd would be listening to some white frenchman playing, right?   Geno and his entire band were black men.   Here he is;

genodelafose

Not a great pic ..... I wasn't especially liking the music, but the dance floor was hoppin for sure.   Great Friday night out and about for me and it was near 1:30 am by the time I hit the pillow.  

For some reason it was hard to find good music on Saturday night in the area and so I did some domestics, etc. and tried to get myself pumped up listening to tunes and got readied for a Sunday night adventure.    I did go out Saturday afternoon because I heard of some free Cajun Dancing lessons in town.   Thought I would "give it a go" as my buddy Robin from Northern Ireland would say, but unfortunately no one showed up so I didn't get a lesson as I had hoped.   Probably best cuz not sure I could have kept up with the locals anyway.

Sunday night was fabulous.   Went into Breaux Bridge to Pont Breaux to listen to the "Jimmy Breaux and his Friends Band"    Lots of Breaux's there, eh?   Pont Breaux is a nice restaurant and I had alligator, shrimp and crab meat.   Very good, very good once again.   The eating has become one of the best parts of being in Louisiana.   

By the way .... took me a while to figure this out, but they pronounce it "Lose ... iana".   Like I lost the football game ..... lose ... eee .... anna.    I blame my bad ear.

Here is the band;

jimmybreaux

As they got set up I was a little hesitant about how good they were going to be.   My meal came and I enjoyed that of course.   Asked the waitress for a local beer and she served me;

 frenchbeer

 

 

 

Sorry, couldn't get the pic to turn over.   It was called LA 31 (like a highway sign) and it was a great pale ale.   You would have loved it Danny.   Be sure to notice the spelling of beer .... french of course.   It was a sign of things to come since all the music was sung in French only also.  Very interesting.

Ends up I was so wrong about the band.   Even sent Ginger a video that night of the fiddle player playing away.   Knew she would like that.   You can see that video up above under videos and is "Fiddle player at Pont Breaux".

The music was amazing and they played this one style call "Swamp-Pop".  I had no idea what that might be so I went up and talked to Jimmy who explained it like this .... "like Fats Domino as a Cajun".   Sure enough .... that is exactly what it was.   Very good.   Again .... got a cd Danny so we can listen when I see you.    Connie ... you will love the sound.    We will have fun visiting these tunes as we travel across New Mexico !!!   Only a few weeks away !!!

Yesterday it was beautiful, sunny, 78 degrees.   I spend the day up on the roof of the camper cleaning dirt and giving it a "spiffing up".   Kind of weird considering the winter storm my friends in Princeton, Minneapolis and Willmar went through.   I guess better them than me, eh?

Last night a cold front came through and we had rain in the morning and it is still raining so good day to catch up on my journal.   I will probably get another workout in .... of all things there is a Anytime Fitness right in Breaux Bridge so my idea of getting a membership there has really paid off for me.   Kind of cold (mid 60's) so maybe a nice bowl of gumbo at Poche's is in order.

Saturday morning I head out for Jake and Aggie's place in Alamo, TX.   Look forward to seeing them and spending Christmas together.   Hope Jake is feeling well enough to play some golf.  Would love to kick ass on his friends the way the two of us did last time we were there.

Hope all is well for all of you .... take good care .... Merry Christmas cheers to you.   Miss you all.

Dave


Pictures

teddy
joshgarrett
genodelafose
jimmybreaux
 
 

2 Comments

Ginger Glenn:
December 10, 2012
Thanks for the fiddle music - fun watching his fingers move.

Sounds like you're continueing to have fun, meet people and enjoy the different cultures and music. Good for You - it seems the time is flying so fast - only two weeks until Christmas!

It is so beautiful here. The snow is piled high everywhere and hanging on all the boughs. The sun is out today - so it glistens like a million diamonds.

The crazy Glenn Family - in three cars from three directions headed to the Ordway yesterday in the midst of the wild snow storm. It cost a fortune and they have NO snow policy!!! So risking death we all trekked out. Becca and I were in the ditch only miles from home. I was holding 8 of the tickets and had 4 more at will call needing a photo ID. So, while Becca was calling for someone to pull us out - I was calling the Ordway and convincing them that they better hand out the tickets to my kids.

We were gone for over 8 hours to go to a two hour play! It was an adventure. Joe lost his truck in St Paul...long story...we think is funny - Joe wasn't laughing quite so hard and Phoebe was very cold!

T he girls went to bed knowing school was two hours late - but, I had the pleasure of telling them this morning that school was cancelled - they immediately donned their snow pants and were outside. I'm surrounded by snow angels...feel very safe!

I finally wrote my Christmas Letter this morning - best get to addressing envelopes. Big Job = but, I love receiving them - so must do my part.

continue your Great Adventure. Love to you, Ginger
robin.jardine:
December 10, 2012
Hey bud.Sounds like you are having a great time.I am really enjoying reading your journal.Keep it up.

THE GREAT FES
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