It’s over 500 miles from Mandeville to Austin via campgrounds with electric hookups. The first leg this year is Mandy to Ville Platte’s Chicot State Park. The trees are still bare; the weather forecast was dead on: rain and a hard freeze with sleet. No wonder we have the campground to ourselves.
It’s the very beginning of crawfish season and we are in the heart of crawfish country. But it’s been a cold winter, and aside from a double wide trailer/saloon in town, nobody has fresh boiled crawfish yet. So we made do with jumbo shrimp, strangely priced much better here than in the New Orleans area. Last night we did some barbecued shrimp in a black iron skillet as served at Pascal’s Manale in NOLA. Our shrimp came out just as well. Better if you don’t like to peel ‘em after they’ve swam in oil, peppers, and various other liquids. Every grocery here seems to bake their own brand of French bread and they’re all good. That, plus Kat’s bread pudding was dinner, and an excellent one at that.
Saturday morning we paid a visit to the world capital of Cajun music, Mamou, LA, to enjoy the camaraderie and smoke of Fred’s Lounge. Tante Sue was there early and greeted us at the door. Bartenders Alex and Jodie took good care of us and even offered the proper pronunciation of “ponce” (a pork maw stuffed with pork meatloaf, then smoked). Neither of us had the nerve to eat it, but Alex says the word is “pownk”. Ah, the Bloody Marys hit the spot, but somebody makes them too peppery.
Best of all they had a good band this weekend, Troy LeJeune’s band without Troy LeJeune. Most headliners like to do a lot of singing, which to me is the worst aspect of Cajun music. While I’ve never heard the man sing, I was pretty pleased with the band with TL in absentia. The primary instruments were fiddle, steel guitar, electric bass, miked accordion, and drums. And only one singer! The lyrics were all in French, and this year the crowd was so loud I couldn’t even hear the radio announcer do her commercials in English. We got there at 8:00 and left at 10:30, with only a little ringing in the ears.
As we left, Tante Sue told us Fred’s is open all day, Fat Tuesday, starting at 7:00 a.m. In 2015, Mardi Gras is February 17. Next year I think we’re going to see a country Mardi Gras in Mamou.
You could be there too. Why not?