This year we went to Louisiana for vacation; beautiful state, great people. In March the weather is nice but the mosquitoes are not. The Atchafalaya basin is overwhelming, like an alien landscape straight out of a science fiction novel.
We were lucky enough to visit two families on our trip. In Baton Rouge we met our first internet friends who treated to a dinner at Chimes, a local eatery with regional delicacies. The restaurant has a lively atmosphere that our conversation matched. We ordered, gumbo, etouffee, a shrimp poboy, and the spiciest pepper-jack, jalapeno, bacon-burger ever. Fat and happy, we nibbled on sweet and flavorful, peppered French fries.
We also visited New Orleans; the garden district is in bloom, the warehouse district’s museums are interesting, and Bourbon Street is loud and stinky. We went just after lunch, at about two o’clock in the afternoon, and saw a number of other families with teenagers in tow. Honestly though, I can’t image how anyone could enjoy the noise and filth of that street at 2am.
While on Grand Isle we battled through the swarms of mosquitoes to get to the beach and practice some beachcombing. We arrived a few hours after low tide, but still had plenty of beach to search. The tide was coming in with the marine layer and the water was choppy. It started raining as we left. Not wanting to leave the Isle we stopped at a local mom and pop diner called Yum! with a great stuffed crab recipe. The locals came and went with their to-go orders as the rain washed over the tin awnings.
In Sunset, (just north of Lafayette) we visited with our second family of internet friends, and spent more than an hour just talking. Our new friends sent us on our way with three handmade, backyard welded, lawn ornaments; a puppy, a tall lawn flower, and a railroad spiked mosquito. They are sure to sneak into a garden picture sooner or later.
Maintaining our healthy(ish) locavore diet is always tricky when we leave the comfort of home. Luckily, our Cajun friends in Sunset are locavores too! We stopped at a roadside vegetable stand and bought some goodies. Two homemade jars of black bean salsa, two commercial jars of local, raw, all natural Louisiana honey, and a homemade jar of Muscadine jelly with a basket of free strawberries thrown in to sweeten the deal. Mon cher, let me tell you somethin’, this is the stuff! The honey and jelly are rich and earthy, you can taste the nutrients in every bite.
So this year we learned how to maintain locavore status on vacation. Step one: Ask the locals. Step two: Stop at farmer’s stalls on the side of the road. Step three: Local fast food chains count if you don’t mind some simple heresy.