Disclaimer: I do not eat and drink this much in my non-vacationing life. But... for this one week of vacation, it was on. The following is basically a detailed list of all I ate and drank while in Louisiana.
We headed to the airport at about 10 p.m., had a whiskey at the bar (the waiter sweetly suggested that we could get a double for $2 more and how could we resist), ingested the necessary medications and caught an overnight flight into New Orleans with a brief layover in Houston. Mom picked us up at the airport and then we went to collect Jason at his friends' apartment. The weather was amazing, blue skies with no clouds, the swamp turning from grey to green and fields of yellow mustard flowers flowing outward from Interstate 90.
That night we drove over to Lafayette, gathered up Noelle, Kristie and Jessie, then were off to Pizza Village to indulge in a Pizza Village special, add jalapenos, with the pepperoni on top. They also do a salad that is a bit of iceberg lettuce and copious amounts of ham, cheese and olives, with your dressing of choice. This salad gives salad a bad name, but along with a pitcher of beer, some captain's wafers and thousand island dressing it is quite lovely.
The next morning we found our old tennis racquets and after a breakfast of boudin and donuts (more on this later), we went to the New Iberia City Park for some tennis fun in the sun. Have to say that Jason hasn't lost it, but sadly I did, and Priscilla held her own. Despite the eating and drinking we were at the tennis courts every morning of the trip. Around 8 a.m. Jason would bang on the door and yell, "Get up drunkards, it's time to play tennis!" and into the sunshine we would stumble.
The below picture is my Mom's amazing steak rice and gravy, with lima beans and smothered potatoes (I wasn't joking about the carb on carb from my rice and gravy post). Can't really see the potatoes in this photo but there is a glimpse of them at the very bottom left side. This meal is something that I would wake up in the middle of the night and have to eat.
We spent the days driving around taking pictures, eating and then finding a bar. The below picture is Jason at Mulligan's an "Irish" bar in downtown New Iberia. There was only one other customer at the bar and Noelle knew the bartender with whom she and Jason had gone to high school. We sat outside in the back and had the bar cat come rub on us to get pet. Shots of whiskey were served in plastic shot cups, that look like something the plastic cup that comes on the top of liquid NyQuil. Only one bar we went to served us shots in actual shot glasses and because there were six of us at that bar, and only five shot glasses someone got a shot in a beer pint.
We went out to the camp at the Basin several times. This is a catfish my dad got from one of his lines. He skinned it and fed it to the camp cats, who devoured it in no time.
Jason being very macho, while driving the boat.
And here are some night shots of downtown New Iberia.
Next up, we have some delicious chicken and sausage gumbo, courtesy of Mom again. Add potato salad, file, several shakes of tabasco, drink a few ponies and you are set.
We then began the search for some boiled crawfish. The season was just beginning and we were in need. After some tennis on the clay courts at Beaver Park in Lafayette (did I mention we were dorks and playing a lot of tennis?) we met up with Noelle, Kristie and Jessie, and headed over to the Green Room downtown for a few drinks and to ponder our crawfish options. This is the bar where there were actual shot glasses, but not enough of them to go around. Kristie and Jessie taught us how to play shuffleboard, and how I have lived this long without playing shuffleboard, I will never know. I LOVE SHUFFLEBOARD! We played a bit of pool, drank and got very serious about shuffleboard, with much yelling and a lot of dancing from Jessie and Jason.
After sufficient shuffleboard action, we headed over to Crawfish Time. This is a restaurant that only serves crawfish and oysters and is only open for crawfish season. The tables have these ingenious holes cut in them, where a lined plastic garbage container rests below the table to catch all the crawfish heads and shells.
We ordered a dozen raw Gulf oysters.
And they were big.
Everyone who ate one was in ecstasy.
Jessie in oyster heaven.
Jason in oyster heaven.
Priscilla in oyster heaven.I have to admit that I was too afraid to eat a raw one. I regret that decision. I did have some of the baked ones. They were covered in butter, parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Really cannot describe how utterly mind-blowing they were. We wanted to lick the butter from the shells they were so good.
And then came the main course of boiled crawfish with corn and potatoes. And were they the best crawfish ever... yes, indeed they were. Perfectly seasoned and everyone got an array of sauces for dipping. Noelle was fast and fierce with her crawfish peeling skills. She kindly tried to show us her method but it was something that must take more practice than we had time for. She won the Best Cajun of the Day award.
This crawfish eating extravaganza ranked as one of the best meals I've ever eaten. The drink, the food, the company all added up to motherfucking amazing. I have woken up in the middle of the night several times after this meal, craving these crawfish. We couldn't stop talking about it in reverential tones for several days after.
The next day we were going on a drive to see some birds and gators. First things first, we had to eat breakfast at Dwyer's Cafe. I forgot to take a picture of my breakfast before I ate it all. Best biscuits ever, no joke.
We made a quick stop at Wal-Mart for some film, since Priscilla staunchly refuses to go digital. I purchased a bottle of Tums and quickly consumed several. While passing the pharmacy section, Kristie pointed out an bald and bespectacled octogenarian who had placed his cane on the ground between his legs and got down on one knee to take a closer look at the brands of prophylactics. Not something you see everyday.
On our drive we saw hundreds of gators. Big ones, small ones, fat ones, tall ones. We had to call out the animal's name upon sighting. It went something like gator!, gator!, gator!, turtle, duck, tater!- Kristie's word for a gator and turtle grouping. The alligators were everywhere. Below is one of the larger specimens we saw. This gator quickly fled as a tourist honked his car horn while passing us and then stopped the car to come over and see what we were looking at. Ugh, you scared it away with your horn silly man. After we were out of gator territory we kept our naming game alive by calling out "Mary" for all the virgin Mary statues in people's front yards. Many, many Mary statuary in rural Louisiana. After all the driving and gator watching, it was round two at Pizza Village.
The next day it was out to the camp for a crawfish boil. We stopped first at Red's Levee Bar in Catahoula for a few drinks and rounds of pool. The one customer, Mark "The Bouncer" recognized me from the last time I was there about a year before. I think I must have chatted him up. This was the night Kristie, Jessie and I went and made friends with the three men at the bar. One of whom was Mark, a younger guy Dusty-Frank and Willie, whose T-shirt read "I get Shit-faced drunk, how do you handle stress?"
The bartender shook her head about Willie and told us that Willie met a woman. He told the bartender after about a week of dating this woman that he was going to ask her to marry him because this time it was really love and not just lust. And the woman was on parole, "But Willie, he's probably on parole too, him." We "passed a good time" as they say. Nothing quite like drinking at a swamp bar in the early afternoon, sunlight blasting through the open front door and the smell of spilled beer and cigarette smoke.
These are the crawdads before they were boiled and consumed. Kristie and I were late to the table because we were taking what should have been a quick boat ride when the motor stopped working. I fiddled with everything and still couldn't get it running, so I paddled us to shore, tied the boat up and we used Kristie's cell phone to call for a ride.
Below are some of my favorite unhealthy breakfast foods.
Boudin from Legnon's Boucherie. Breakfast of fucking champions.
Suddenly it was time to head back home. Kristie and Jessie drove us into New Orleans, we had supper at Eddie and Craig's apartment and then a wonderfully debauched night of drinking, playing shuffleboard, darts, ping pong and pool. Jason decided at some point that he was not going to be on a 6 a.m. flight back to New York. The night was brought to a close at about 3 a.m. with hot sausage and roast beef po-boys from Gene's Po-boys. Don't let a night of drinking go by in New Orleans without getting a hot sausage po-boy. We went back to the hotel to eat and Priscilla got the hiccups about two bites in so I "had" to eat her po-boy as well as mine because it would have gone to waste if I didn't eat it.
The next morning we were up bright and early and ready for breakfast. We were out of the hotel by 8:30 a.m. and heading to a cafe. Jason was feeling a little worse for the wear and he had to duck into a bar, which he exited grasping a to go cup of Abita Strawberry beer. This beer is the bomb. Like a beer and a strawberry milkshake all in one. We ate breakfast at Croissant D'Or. Priscilla's friend Anne (who does some wonderful health care work at Common Ground Health Clinic) was able to join us for coffee, mini quiches, and sandwiches all around.
Before breakfast was over, Jessie suggested Bloody Marys at Lafitte's. How perfect that sounded; it had an almost magical ring to it. A quick walk down the street and we were ensconced in the dim and dingy Lafitte's imbibing on invigorating and healthy Bloody Marys.
After two rounds of drinks, things started to get fuzzy. We headed over to Buffa's for hamburgers because there was an hour long wait at Port of Call. We walked in and a guy came over to the table and asked us if we knew any jokes. I should have been aware of my intoxication level when I quickly stood up and told the whole bar a "nasty." We had a great waitress, delicious hamburgers (yes, they were better than the burgers at Port of Call) a round of beer and what I think may have been three shots of whiskey each. Then sadly it was time to catch a plane. We collected our luggage and called a shuttle. Jason made a run to Central Grocery for muffalettas and we picked him up there and headed to the airport. My Cajun Power sauces (these are so damn good) were confiscated at security but luckily our muffaletta made it through. We ate, caught our flight and slept the whole way back to San Francisco.