Food and visiting on the Blue

There’s nothing like being back at my parents’ house on Bayou Blue.  It’s a place where eating and visiting has been refined to an art form!  There’s not much story-telling, outside of these photos, to be done about my visit.  I ate and visited for several days, and I left with my heart and belly full 😊

A typical boiled seafood scene at my parents’ house; this time it was crabs! Around the table: Ashley (nephew’s wife), me, Monica (sister), Edley (dad), Carolyn (mom), Percy (family friend), and Jennifer (sister-in-law). I love it when we all get together over food!
Live Louisiana blue-claw crabs before they went in the boiling pot. Blue crab habitat extends from the northern Atlantic coast, through the Gulf of Mexico, down through most of South America’s eastern coast. They typically mate after maturing (around 1 year) and continue to do so year-round for their 3-4-year life span. Peak mating seasons are spring and summer, once the females have molt and her shell is still soft, then the females will carry the fertilized eggs (up to 3.5 million at a time) on their underside in what looks like an orange sponge. -La. Wildlife & Fisheries website
The two main shrimp found in Louisiana waters are brown and white. You can tell brown shrimp apart from white by their brownish color (compared to the light grey or translucent blue of white shrimp) and the dark brown tips at the end of their tails (compared to white shrimp’s green tips) and their reddish legs. Brown shrimp also have grooves on the side of the head below their spine and on both sides of the tail (white shrimp have no grooves on their body or tail). You can’t really tell which they are once they’re boiled, but these October-harvested shrimp are white (Spring/brown shrimp season generally runs May to July, whereas fall/white shrimp season generally runs mid-August to mid-December). La. Wildlife & Fisheries website
Gumbos are like jambalayas in Louisiana- each bayou, and even each family on a bayou, has its own version. Some are redder, some are more brownish. This photo is of my mom’s shrimp and okra gumbo. As you can see, in our family’s version of this Cajun classic, the okra is so cooked down (in fact our recipe calls for them to be “smothered,” or cooked down with onions and stewed tomatoes) that they are no longer discernable as a distinct vegetable; they are merely seeds and skin floating in the gumbo, which is a soup consistency to be poured over rice. To my great disappointment, whenever I have gumbo at a restaurant, or outside of Louisiana, there are always large chunks of intact okra sitting on a bed of rice. Perhaps this is common to other bayous, or families, elsewhere in Louisiana, but I’ve never had a gumbo with chunks of okra in it served at a Cajun’s home.
My dad and Uncle Lloyd took me along to their weekly outing to the TARC Bayou Country Café for beignets. Delicious! TARC is the Terrebonne Parish chapter of The Arc, an organization dedicated to advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. Formerly, TARC stood for Terrebonne Association for Retarded Children/Citizens. “Over time, the words ‘retardation’ and ‘retarded’ became pejorative, derogatory, and demeaning in usage… so the [national] organization evolved its terminology to reflect the desires of people with disabilities and changed its name to ‘The Arc’… in 1992,” with the ‘R’ now representing ‘respect.’ The Terrebonne chapter followed suit to align with the national organization. The TARC Bayou Country Café is staffed by people with developmental disabilities; their motto is “dining with a purpose.” -The Arc website
Many cultures have their own versions of a fritter, or fried dough. There’s Spanish churros, Spanish-American sopapillas, Pennsylvanian Dutch funnel cakes, Croatian krofnes, and, of course, American donuts! The Louisiana variety is the beignet. Thought to have originated in France, the now ubiquitous squared fried treat made from leavened dough, is best served hot, fresh from the fryer, and covered in powdered sugar. A true Louisiana delicacy!
His sister was one of my besties in high school, so I was always around Joe, and his wife Julie, during my teenage years. Somehow, I remained friends with them ever since! They live just up the road from my parents,’ so I jumped on the bike and went to spend an afternoon of visiting on the porch with them. So great to catch up!
I love when water hyacinths are blooming from lily pads in my parents’ back bayou.

I enjoyed spending several days on Bayou Blue, and even visited with a few cousins, aunts and uncles while in town, but it was time for me to hit the road after a several days of leisure time.  Before I rolled out, I chased the Mississippi River to its end of the road…

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