Friday, April 12, 2019

Abbeville, Zydeco, Cajun Jams and Food

The fun times continue here at Betty's RV Park with the usual mix of music, food, and friends. We did a walking tour of Abbeville, a Zydeco Breakfast, a Cajun jam session, and went to New Iberia for lunch and a tour of the rice mill.  
The tour of Abbeville started at Sam Guarino (Mr. Sam's) blacksmith shop. The 1913 shop was donated to the city and moved to its present location on State Street after it closed in 2004. 
The shop now serves as a living history museum. All of the machines; lathe, drill press, grinder, and saw were operated by a belt drive system that still works. It really is a step back in time right down to the dirt floor and the noise of the running equipment.

I was surprised to learn there was such a large Italian population in the area. The Italians that arrived in Vermilion Parish from the middle 1800's to 1910  came mostly from Cefalu, Sicily, Italy depicted in the top left mural. The other three murals show how they made a living farming, running the local store and Mr. Sam's blacksmith shop.   
The next stop was St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church which was founded by Pere Antoine Megret in 1843. The present Romanesque style church that was built in the early 1900's is the fourth church on this site. 
The beautiful stained glass windows by Ford Brothers Glass Studio were made by European artisans. Here are three of the eighteen windows in the nave of the church. The entire church was renovated between 2004 and 2009.
Abbeville has several murals depicting the history of the town. This one on the side of the city office building sure captures the food and music culture we love about the area. The accordion with an oyster on the bellows and crawfish, shrimp, crabs and cattle on the side.
Our last stop was the parish courthouse. I failed to get pictures of the outside. One end is designed like the classic Greek temple, another like a Classic Revival Plantation House and a third like the French architecture of New Orleans. The paintings showing scenes of early life in Vermilion Parish in the main hall were all painted by Harry Worthman.
On Saturday most of the folks at Betty's headed to Buck and Johnny's in Breaux Bridge for the famous Zydeco breakfast. Here are Susan, Dan, Dick, Kathy, Sue and Dan. 
Here are Nancy, Monalisa, Randy, Monica and Mike waiting for music and breakfast.
In the rear are Valerie and Jeff.  In front are Aussies Brian and Karen who assured us there is nothing like the Zydeco breakfast in Australia. I don't know the person who photo bombed the picture with the peace sign. 
Here are Dan, Merlene, Jim and Nanc.
The scene at Buck and Johnny's is really amazing when you understand it is only 9AM. Lil Pookie and the Zydeco Sensation had the place rockin. 
That same afternoon we all headed to Touchet's for the Cajun jam session. Here are Betty's RVers hanging out in the "Horny Corner". The RVers from Betty's are big supporters of the Cajun jams.
The band had all the regulars; Rooster, Dave, Joe and Kristy, who we have gotten to know over the years.
Here are Dick and Betty hitting the dance floor at Touchet's. The Cajun dancing is different than the Zydeco, but you could fool me as I don't do well with either. 
But after a couple beverages I am capable of a few moves on the floor.
Nanc with Cynthia the local percussionist who is often at the jam. She gave Nanc a lesson on the proper way to play the tambourine and triangle.
Food at happy hour is a big deal with a lot of competition on who brings the best or most unique. I believe Doris has taken the prize for the most unique. It was really pretty good if you closed your eyes but to most of the Mom's in the group it brought back way to many memories:-)  
Always high on our to do list is a trip to Bon Creole Lunch Counter in New Iberia. It is a little hole in the wall place with great gumbo and po-boys. Here are Sue, Sharon, Monalisa, Steve, John and Dan waiting for their names to be called.
Another big table of Betty's Rvers, Susan, Kathy, Merlene, Charles, Nanc, Nancy, Mike, Dan, Dick and Dan. This place never disappoints and should be on your list if you are in the area.
In all our years of coming to Acadiana we have never visited the Conrad Rice Mill in New Iberia. The mill, built in 1912 so local rice did not need to be shipped to New Orleans, is the oldest independently owned rice mill in the country. 
The mill markets their product under the name Konriko. The name comes from Conrad Rice Company, but another rice company in California used the Conrico name so they changed the c's to k's. The mill is on the National Register of Historic Places.  
The milling relies on gravity starting in a storage bin on the third floor from where it is dropped into the stone, two five foot diameter stones that dehull the rice. In the old days they burned the hulls to power the mill. It then went into the huller to remove the bran and then the brush to be polished, producing the highly polished white rice that was so popular then. Next it went into the trumble where a coating of sucrose and talcum powder was added. That is way you needed to wash it before cooking.   
The last step is weighing and packaging. This is the original machine where the 100 pound bags were sown shut. They later added 10, 25 and 50 pound bags. The system has changed today as they do not polish all the rice. They make mostly natural brown rice. While I'm smart enough to know chocolate milk does not come from cows, I never knew that all rice is brown before it is polished. 

In 1975 the company was sold by the Conrad family to Michael Davis. Davis was responsible for expanding the variety of rice produced including brown and flavored rice. Today the company manufactures a line of seasoning, spices, sauces, marinades and snacks. If you are in the area check out the rice mill and the store where all their products are available.

I still have a lot of things to write about our stay at Betty's even though we are near the end of our time here. We will be heading back to our condo in Stuart next week. We plan to stay there until after Memorial Day before heading north for the summer.


Richard Ashburn said...

Thanks for preserving these memorable events.

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Great Tour!