Sunday, April 10, 2011

Coushatta Louisiana: Natchitoches and the Cane River

You may have noticed a lot of food photos yesterday. Get ready for more today. Louisiana cuisine is not to be denied. I won't be putting a map up today because, honestly, I'm not quite sure where we went or how we got there.

Pam had gone to work this morning before we got up. She is a nurse practitioner at a clinic a few miles from here. By the time we got out of bed, Thomas was cooking a breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs and toast. We ate it out by the pool.

My friend Oscar looking for food

Sandy and Thomas enjoying breakfast

It was windy this morning and Thomas took me for a spin around his property in his Polaris Razor. This 800 cc machine isn't quite a car but is more than an ATV. They have taken it west on vacations and explored some hard to get to places. It might be just the thing for tooling through the desert in Yuma with Sherm.

The Razor and the RV

Pam got home earlier than expected so we all got in the truck and headed for Grayson's BBQ in Clarence, Louisiana. We managed to get in before the Sunday church crowd. Each couple ordered a mixed plate consisting of one huge rib, ham, beef, potato salad, beans and a side of coleslaw. The ladies took some of the sides and the rib while Thomas and I attacked what was left. We also bought a package of six large chocolate "cookies" on the way out.

In front of Grayson's BBQ - Clarence Louisiana

Sandy's rib

My mixed plate after Sandy took her share

Well fed, we continued on to Natchitoches (pronounced NAK-i-tush) and drove through the historic streets along the river. We also past the Steel Magnolias Bed & Breakfast where some key scenes for the movie were filmed.

Park in Natchitoches along the Cane River

Natchitoches cobblestone streets and historic buildings

Leaving the town, we cruised along the winding Cane River and looked at old plantations. This area is populated by descendants of the Creole people, particularly those described as Creoles of color. The architecture along here is largely Antebellum, with large houses and groves of spreading live oak trees.

Antebellum plantation house and live oaks

Another one

Outbuilding at the Melrose Plantation historical site

Another Melrose Plantation outbuilding

Thomas, Sandy and Pam at the Melrose Plantation
(note the pecan grove in the background)

Raised vaults in St. Augustine (est. 1803) churchyard

St Augustine Church

After our tour of the Cane River, Thomas stopped in Natchitoches to buy crawfish. The first place was sold out so we proceeded down the street where he got a bag with 31 pounds of the critters. We took this back to their place and they proceeded to get ready for a crawfish boil, a whole new experience to us.

Thirty one pounds of live crawfish

One escapee

Challenging Oscar - the crawfish won

Hosing them down

A seething mass of crustaceans

Thomas pouring the creatures into boiling water

Boiled crawfish about to be seasoned

Adding the seasoning

Our chefs

They look good enough to eat

Shrimp appetizer

A crawfish plate with corn, red potatoes, mushrooms and sausage

Happy converts to the crawfish ritual

We needed to be taught how to make sure the crawfish had curled tails (straight tails meant they were dead before they hit the cooking pot), grasp them by the body and twist the tails off, peel one segment of shell and then squeeze the tail and pull the meat out. Then you dip the meat in the sauce and pop it in your mouth. Thomas said the real coon-ass (Cajuns) also suck out the body from the other part of the shell. This was a new experience but we are now ready to join in the next time someone suggests we have a crawfish dinner. After we were done, Thomas separated the remaining crawfish tails from their bodies and prepared them for freezing.

Thomas preparing the leftover crawfish for freezing

Dinner, done, Thomas jumped in the pool, which was 84F. The rest of us tried to convince Oscar the water was his friend. He wasn't too sure about that.

Thomas in the pool

Pam checking the water temperature

One of Sandy's flower photos

Oscar getting closer to the water

Northerners by the pool

I think we have been eating too much the last few days but then the food is too good. We spent the evening watching TV and talking, with a time out for some home made pecan pie.

Pecan pie - the dessert of champions

Then it was off to bed again.

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