Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cajun Country Lagniappe

This is the last in a series of posts featuring pictures from our recent trip through the heart of Acadiana, an area in South Louisiana, which is more commonly known as "Cajun Country."  

We drove the back roads that cut through endless acres of sugarcane fields, groves of magnificent old live oaks whose massive moss-covered limbs looked as if they were so heavy the trees couldn't hold them up any longer, and rice fields that stretched as far as the eye could see.

Louisiana is second in sugarcane production in the United States, and ranks third in rice production. This was very much in evidence as we drove through the heart of Cajun Country. There were thousands of acres of rice fields, ranging from lush emerald green to gold.

The rice tassles were as droopy as I felt after wandering around those rice fields in the midday August sun taking pictures ... isn't it pretty, though!



It would probably be very difficult to find a pantry in the State of Louisiana, especially south Louisiana, that doesn't have a package of rice on its shelves.  And in Cajun Country, chances are,  most of the classic Cajun dishes include rice.

On a more personal note, as a Louisiana native, I grew up eating rice dishes, and loved rice cooked just about any way you can cook it ... with brown gravy, red gravy, in soups, gumbos, casseroles, with red beans, and even rice pudding.  But about three years ago I developed a health issue which caused difficulty when swallowing, and after having several food allergy tests done, I was told that I was allergic to rice!  The allergist couldn't tell me why, after eating rice all my life, I was all of a sudden allergic to it, but I immediately quit eating rice the day I found out it was the cause of my problem. I have to admit that I miss it ... red beans and shrimp creole and gumbo will never be the same again ... but, thankfully, I haven't had any more difficulties swallowing, so it's a small sacrifice to pay.

Along with the rice fields, I would like to share some of the other scenes I captured during our travels, like this store called, "Just out da Bayou Seafood" ... gotta love it!

And the street signs that were printed in both English and French ...

I love the neon signs on these two old movie houses, in Crowley and New Iberia, respectively ...

Downtown Crowley, known as The Rice Capital of America, where "Life is Rice and Easy!"

New Iberia is also home to the beautiful Shadows on the Teche (ca 1831-1834)
Our time was limited and we weren't able to tour the house,
but I managed to get this shot through the front gate.

Two attractions in St. Martinville, Louisiana, caught my attention.  One was this charming bed and breakfast inn called Hotel Castillo (ca 1827) ...

A little historical lagniappe about the Hotel: Throughout the 19th century, steamboats sailed up and down Bayou Teche bringing travelers and goods to Acadiana.  Those who stopped in St. Martinville found lodging and hospitality in a large brick building that came to be called the Castillo Hotel.  It had one of the area's most luxurious ballrooms and was the setting for decades of community activities. When steamboat travel gave way to the railroads, the old hotel was sold to the Sisters of Mercy, who operated the Convent of Mercy School there for almost 90 years.

The second attraction in St. Martinville was next to the hotel -- the famed "Evangeline Oak," which marks the legendary meeting place of Emmeline Labiche and Louis Arceneaux, the counterparts of Evangeline and Gabriel, in Longfellow's poem, Evangeline. The poem immortalized the tragedy of the Acadian exile from Nova Scotia in 1755.

 Near the old oak tree there is a bust honoring Longfellow, as a "Poet of the People."

St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, Abbeville, Louisiana

Breaux Bridge, known as "The Crawfish Capital of the World," prominently displays a giant crawfish on the bridge crossing Bayou Teche, leading to the historic downtown area ...

Downtown Breaux Bridge ...

More street signs ...

By the way, we stopped and ate at the Cafe Des Amis downtown, and enjoyed our meal so much that we stopped there again on the way home!  I highly recommend the shrimp gumbo, if you are ever in the area.  It was delicious, even without rice!

I hope you enjoyed seeing my pictures from our trip to South Louisiana, and found the stories behind them to be interesting.  If you would like to read more about our trip through Acadiana, you can click on the links below:

Off the Beaten Path in South Louisiana

Rayne, Louisiana: Frog Capital of the World

Audubon Bridge: A Work of Art

Stepping Back in Time

Adventures on Avery Island

Sugar, Sugar


C. M. Designs said...

Janie, all of the pictures that you've shared and stories that you've told about your trip have been wonderful. I really feel that I've had a vacation right here in my family room.
Where are we going next ? :o)
Have a happy weekend.. I hope it will get cooler for you and me very soon.
Smiles, Charlotte

racheld said...

I can smell that slow-browning roux and the file' from here.

What a treat and what a trip!!

moire non,


Sue said...

Indeed I did enjoy the trip with the stories and photos of South Louisiana, Janie. My dh loves rice and grew up on having it almost everyday, I am sorry you have developed and allergy to it. you have certainly had a wonderful trip and have captured it so well, thanks for sharing with us.

racheld said...

I so love these rice pictures---so familiar and yet so far removed from the NOW. So THAT'S where all those fancy band outfits get their glamourous epaulets, like the uniforms of generals and presidents in countries where Generals and Presidents DRESS.