This post was inspired by Bruce, owner of Jaco’s Tacos in Jackson Mississippi. Thank you for your company and true Southern hospitality, Bruce! (scroll to the end of this post to read more about Bruce!)
Deborah in Abbeville LA is the real deal, she’s a Southern lady. Deborah has a room in her lovely home that she lets out as The Guest Room, on airbnb. She took us to lunch at Suire’s, a classic Cajun grocery store and restaurant.
who own and run Deux Chenes Hunting Club. We went out on Ron’s crawfish ponds, where he let Chris take a turn at driving the boat.
Ron had already been out pulling the traps and taking out the crawfish that morning, but when we pulled up some traps we found more had already got in. Crawfish season is in full swing in Cajun country! Ron was so gracious to take us out, during his working day, and explain how first they grow a rice crop in the fields, then when the rice has been harvested (usually twice), they flood the fields, and the crawfish eggs which were laid the previous season, start to hatch and grow. He baits traps with pieces of fish, sets the traps in the water and waits. Each day he goes out in his boat for a few hours, and collects the mudbugs from the traps. At the end of crawfish season, a few live crawfish are thrown pack in the ponds to “seed” the ponds for the following season.
They make really good eating, as we found that evening, when Deborah kindly took us to Richard’s Restaurant. Chris and I split 3 pounds of the delicious red crawfish between us (to leave room for desert!) The crawfish are delivered on tin trays, with an empty tray for the shells. The trick is to take the head in one hand, the tail in the other, and twist off the head. Enthusiasts suck the good fat out of the head (we did too!). Then split the tail, peel the shell, dip it into your personal mix of dipping sauce.
Deborah was kind enough to mix us up some. Completely delicious! We finished off the meal with Milky Way pie, it had to be done!
After dinner, Deborah accompanied us to Richard’s Sale Barn. You would never know about this place, if a local didn’t tell you, but it deserves much wider fame than it has. An old animal sale barn, now turned into an intimate music venue. There’s a makeshift bar in the lobby, the place is run by assorted cousins. Inside is a small amphitheatre, with raised raked wooden seating, covered with a mix of pillows. A high stage has been built, so the band is on a level with the top few rows of seating. We enjoyed some tremendous music, featuring local band CajuNation. Chad Brown plays bass in the band, and also runs Richard’s Sale Barn. Keith Myers started the evening on acoustic guitar and vocals, playing his own choices and audience requests. Then CajuNation took the stage and played up a storm of rockin zydeco! What a thrill. Terrific, super-tight musicians who really know their stuff 🙂 It was Chad’s birthday, so after CajuNation’s set, he had a few friends sit in and show us their chops. Excellent guest guitarist traded riffs with Keith on guitar and Chad on bass. We had such a good time. After the music, we had the pleasure of chatting with some of the musicians in the bar, exchanged cards and became FB friends. Chad and his friends were so kind and gracious to us, so welcoming and friendly, we truly felt a part of their wonderful Cajun community.
Brian was born in South Africa, grew up in New York, and has now become an adopted, enthusiastic resident of New Orleans. We had an amazing time experiencing our first few Mardi Gras parades (more on these in another post to come!) One evening we cycled down to St Charles to meet Brian and his friend Robert, to watch the Bacchus parade. Wonderful floats, fun people.
After the parade, the four of us cycled to the Quarter looking for dinner. We ended up at Port of Call, a terrific hole in the wall bar, that served amazing burgers and the biggest loaded potatoes I’ve ever seen! From there we cycled on, passing flame throwers in the street,
to Frenchmen Street. We locked up the bikes and wandered the bars, listening to some excellent music in Café Negril and Bamboula. We finally left Robert at his apartment on Frenchmen St, and cycled back to Brian’s place.
The next day, a friend of Brian and Rebecca, Cathy, had graciously invited us to join them for brunch at her beautiful home in the Garden District. Cathy has filled her home with art pieces, and wonderful friends. What a fun time we had.
While in New Orleans, we also enjoyed the company of new friends Robin & Bob, who were introduced to us online by mutual friends, thanks so much for befriending random strangers, and showing us real friendship and hospitality!
And Stacy and Kickie, who we were delighted to meet in the 3 Muses and hang out with one evening 🙂
There’s more to New Orleans than simply wonderful southern hospitality, but the parades will come in another post.
We left New Orleans on 8 March, for our 6 hour drive to Memphis. We decided to stop in Jackson for lunch, and spotted what appeared to be a hole in the wall place called Jaco’s Tacos. As we entered, it grew larger, like the TARDIS! We ate delicious fish and pork tacos. As we were eating, the owner stopped by to check on how we were doing. As often happens, the sound of our British accents prompted the questions: “where are you from, what are you doing here?” Bruce told us that as a child he had lived for several years in King’s Lynn in Norfolk, England. His father was in the military, his mother a GI bride. The family later returned to Memphis, where young Bruce worked at Pizza Hut through college. He continued with Pizza Hut, eventually becoming VP of SE US. We enjoyed chatting with Bruce, who gave us many useful tips on things to do and see in Memphis, as well as our upcoming stops in Charleston, Savannah and Florida.
Bruce expressed interest in our journey, and we told him about this blog, which he said he will visit. He said he was envious of our travels. As we talked, we told him how much we had experienced, and enjoyed true Southern hospitality. How much we have seen, but how much we realize we haven’t yet seen. We said we must come back and see more. We were then stunned when Bruce gave us his phone number, and said when we came back, we must call him. He invited us to stay in his home. He said he would take us around, visiting such places as Robert Johnson’s “crossroads”.
A real Southern gentleman, full of true Southern hospitality. Thank you Bruce, for making our day.
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