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New Orleans and Houma, Louisiana
From the February & March 1990 issues of Movin' On.
New Orleans
The first day in the Crescent City, we walked about 80 city blocks and never stopped wondering at all the activity. We even left the French Quarter and walked to the regular downtown area in search of the best po boys in the world. We found these wonderful sandwiches as promised in a little out-of-the-way place called Mother's. It was very busy but they knew how to get everyone served fast because they feed lots of business people for lunch. We chose the Famous Ferdi Special which was baked ham, roast beef, gravy, shredded cabbage, pickles, mayo, yellow and creole mustards on a crusty submarine bun. If you ever get to New Orleans, put this place on your list of good places to eat. 
We also enjoyed beignets (a french pastry dredged with powdered sugar) with a cup of coffee at the Cafe Du Monde in the French Market. One of the nice surprises of our visit there was a fairly new national park office there in the French Quarter. The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park offers several different tours of the city and as always they do a terrific job. We compared notes with others who took commercial tours and we felt we had the very best. Our tours were to the French Quarter, the cemeteries and the garden district. 
When we rode the city bus into New Orleans and back, we were a little surprised to find that we were the only white folks on any of the four busses we rode. We had no idea what landmarks to look for at bus changing time, but we managed. The ride home at midnight was interesting. An Evening in New Orleans is hard to describe. Wild, wonderful, noisy, musical, but one night was enough. The day times were our favorite time there.

We were camped in a state park 18 miles south of the city at first then we moved a little closer so we could take advantage of the great public transportation available. While in the state park though, we did drive down to the mouth of the Mississippi River and were amazed at all the oil drilling support equipment down there. 

Visit the New Orleans home page.

Swamp Land

Houma, Louisiana, is in the heart of Cajun Country and we got a great taste of the are on our week-long stay there. I had always wanted to know that this swamp country was like. It is NOT like the movies have depicted. There IS an abundance of water. In fact Houma (pronounced home-a) is a maze of canals (bayous). The main road there is divided by a bayou into two one-way streets and each intersection is a bridge. It is a quiet community about the size of Traverse City, Michigan and just as friendly. Nearby New Orleans gets the majority of the tourist business so anyone who ventures into the area gets a royal welcome. They want tourists since their oil business is not what it once was.

We signed up for a swamp tour and were the only ones on the tour. Alice, our tour guide, drove us into the swamp on a levee so we could get a first hand look at the alligators, birds and nutria (a muskrat-rat type animal which is hunted for its fur). Right in the midst of all this nature were oil derricks and other such machinery standing idle.

Most of the locals earn their living by fishing, shrimping or gathering oysters so to help us understand what goes on in Houma, we were taken to an oyster processing place. What a labor intensive job that is! Four men stood at steel sinks with hammer and chisel cracking open each shell---one at a time. It was a wet, smelly place too. We aren't oyster fans but from now on when ever I see them I will appreciate the work that had to be done. We also visited a shrimp processing plant. Machinery does most of the work there. Our tour included lunch at a local spot in the center of all the fishing activity. We were served a variety of local seafood (oysters too) which were deep fried. Good, but not healthy.

After lunch, we were driven to an old Cajun man's house so we could see how he lives. By the way-Cajun is short for Acadian. They are French Canadians who were driven out of Canada by the British long ago. They were trappers and fishermen and still are. Dovie (pronounced Do-vee) Naquin was most interesting. When we arrived he had just finished skinning four nutria and there they were---skins on the floor and bodies naked and ugly. Dovie's house was neat, clean, but modest. He and his wife raised seven beautiful children and all of them graduated from high school which is unusual in Cajun country. Most quit school to help in the family business. He told us how he catches his limit of alligators in hunting season (September). That ended our tour, but not our wonderful experience in Houma.

The same evening we went to the local dance hall where free Cajun dance lessons were being given. There was a good crowd and we tried to learn, but it was more fun to watch everyone and just listen to the music. The next day Ron dropped me off at the door of the grocery store and I was greeted by Eunice whose job it is to welcome everyone. After a few minutes, she asked if we were at the dance hall for the lessons. I was so surprised ant anyone would recognize me. She had remembered seeing our car with the bicycles on the to parked at the place. It wasn't long before she knew about our lifestyle and that we were new to the store. She gave us a special tour and a free Mardi Gras cake from the bakery along with special samples from the meat department.

Everywhere we went we were treated in a very special way. The restaurants are not fancy bu any stretch of the imagination but the food is good. At Dula and Edwin's we had their special "hospitality platter" and it included the following: Cajun shrimp bites,  corn puffs, shrimp etouffee, fried catfish, stuffed crab, shrimp boulette, seafood file gumbo, and the famous crawfish.

How to eat crawfish
Craw fish resemble shrimp and are boiled whole in water that has lots of cayenne pepper and other seasoning. You are supposed to pull the head off first and suck out the juices of the head. We tried it once and decided to forget that part. The next part wasn't bad; it was like peeling and eating shrimp. They were good but very messy; the juices would run down our arms while de-heading, peeling and eating them. Ron enjoyed them, but then Ron will eat almost anything.

For more information on Houma go to their web site. Houma