Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Fourth of July

United States of America

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home

Watch, Listen, Remember

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Allons manger! (Let’s go eat!)

Lafayette, LA

Remember this song?

This morning we visited Vermilionville Living Museum & Folklife Park. From there, we hurried on to meet our guide for our afternoon adventure – a 'Cajun Food Tour'. I've never heard of a food tour. I stumbled on to this one while looking over the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce promotional website several weeks ago. What better way to learn about and taste some real Cajun food? I made a reservation right then and the Hank Williams song has been running around in my head ever since. Well, today is the day.

No better way to introduce Marie and 'Cajun Food Tours' than to let her speak for herself. So I took the following snippets from her website which I hope you will visit.
Cajun Food Tours history and purpose is what defines us. Lafayette, Louisiana is the “Tastiest Town in the South,” and Cajun Food Tours wants you to experience it!
My name is Marie and I am happy to call myself Cajun! I am especially proud of our uniquely incredible food! I can’t stand the thought of anyone coming to this city and not tasting our local favorites. Everyone who lives here does it; we either cook our own Cajun treats for our visitors or we drag them all over the five-parish area, making sure they experience what we get every day.

In November of 2010, I went on my first food tour in Baltimore, MD. After a couple more tours, I thought “Our food is so much better than this; someone really should do this in Lafayette!” Finally, I realized that someone was going to be me! So, I quit my job and bought a bus!
Marie and her bus picked us up at the appointed time and place for our 'three-hour tour' (sounds like Gilligan's Island), where we would make five stops to enjoy Cajun cuisine.
You can spot this bus anywhere
Everyone gets a name tag
Allons manger! (Let’s go eat!) is her motto

La Cuisine de Maman Restaurant

Surprise! Our first stop was right back where we had just left – La Cuisine de Maman Restaurant at Vermilionville Living Museum & Folklife Park.
La Cuisine de Maman Restaurant

This time the restaurant was open and waiting for us. Here we enjoyed a cup of Gumbo and freshly baked biscuits while learning about Cajun Gumbo.
A cup of Gumbo and a freshly baked biscuit

The portions were modest, but still, my thought was that I can't handle this five times. We certainly won't be eating supper tonight.

Earl's Cajun Meat Market

Earl's Cajun Meat Market
From the street, Earl's looks like a convenience store or a neighborhood grocery store. However, it is actually a specialty meat market featuring Cajun meat products.

Our taste treats were Boudin and Cracklins.

Classic Louisiana Boudin

Boudin is various kinds of sausage in French, Luxembourg, Belgian, German, Quebec, Acadian, Creole, Surinamese Creole, Austrian and Cajun cuisine.

Boudin blanc: A white sausage made of pork without the blood. Pork liver and heart meat are typically included. In Cajun versions, the sausage is made from a pork rice dressing (much like dirty rice), which is stuffed into pork casings. Rice is always used in Cajun cuisine, whereas the French/Belgian version typically uses milk, and is therefore generally more delicate than the Cajun variety.

In French/Belgian cuisine, the sausage is sauteed or grilled. The Louisiana version is normally simmered or braised, although coating with oil and slow grilling for tailgating is becoming a popular option in Lafayette, New Orleans, Houston, Beaumont, and Baton Rouge.


Cracklings aka pork rinds, is the American name for fried or roasted skins of pigs, geese or other animals, regardless of the status or amount of pork in the snack. Pieces of fried meat, skin, or membrane produced as a byproduct of rendering lard are also called cracklings.

Cracklings consist of either roasted or fried pork rind that has had salt rubbed into it and scored with a sharp knife: "a crackling offers a square of skin that cracks when you bite into it, giving way to a little pocket of hot fat and a salty layer of pork meat."

Cajun cracklings (or "cracklins") from Cajun cuisine (called gratons in Louisiana French) are fried pieces of pork fat with a small amount of attached skin, flavored after frying with a mixture of peppery Cajun spices.

Pork rinds normally refer to a snack food commercially sold in plastic bags. They are made in a two-step process: pork skin is first rendered and dried, and then fried and puffed. These are also called by the Mexican name, chicharrĂ³n, in reference to the popular Mexican food.

My verdict: Boudin – delicious; Cracklins – not interested, one taste was plenty.

Much more in this showcase

Bon Temps Grill

On to our third stop.
Bon Temps Grill
Bon Temps Grill serves alcohol. Several of us ordered a drink while waiting for our surprise Cajun treat.
Marie makes us guess what our treat will be

After our treat arrived and we all tasted it, Marie took opinions on what it was. The closest opinion was 'Frog Legs.' The real answer was ...
Alligator Legs

The Crawfish Spot

My fear that we would not get to eat crawfish was put to rest as we pulled up to stop #4.
The Crawfish Spot

It appears that a standard order (in season) is 3lb for $12.97 or 5lb for $19.95
One couple in our group was from The Netherlands.
They were having a ball on this strange adventure.

These little guys are the rage

We finally learned from experts how to eat crawfish

Very delicious but a lot of waste. Each tail was one bite. Wash your hands before you leave.

Poupart Bakery

Our last stop was a bakery. I must admit that surprised me.
Poupart Bakery
I'm a sucker in a bakery

Our treat was Pecan Cinnamon Cream-Cheese Brioche King Cake
Marie cuts the King Cake

Everyone enjoyed it but I got the trophy

There is a tradition associated with King Cake
A king cake (sometimes shown as kingcake, kings' cake, king's cake, or three kings cake) is a type of cake associated in a number of countries with the festival of Epiphany at the end of the Christmas season; in other places, it is associated with the pre-Lenten celebrations of Mardi Gras/Carnival.

What started out roughly 300 years ago as a dry French bread–type dough with sugar on top and a bean inside now comes in many varieties depending on the country. Some king cakes are made of a sweet brioche dough in the shape of a hollow circle with a glazed topping sprinkled with colored sugar. Hundreds of thousands of King Cakes are eaten in New Orleans during the Carnival season.

In other countries, king cakes are made with a puff pastry, filled with one of several fillings (e.g., almond, apple, chocolate/pear, etc.), and have a small figurine hidden inside. The figurine changes from bakery to bakery and often represents a hit movie or other cultural icon.

The cake often has a small plastic baby (to represent the Baby Jesus) inside or underneath; and the person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket has various privileges and obligations.


Our tour ended back at our pickup point. We had packed a lot into this day and the day had packed a lot into us. It was a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. I'm sure Marie will fill her bus many times in the months to come and many more folks will experience Allons manger! (Let’s go eat!)
Ah yes, the song.
Jambalaya (On the Bayou) lyrics
One of many verses
A good-bye Joe, you gotta go, me oh my oh
He gotta go-pole the pirogue down the bayou
His Yvonne the sweetest one, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou
Jambalaya, crawfish pie and fillet gumbo
For tonight, I'm-a gonna see my ma cher a mi-o
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

"Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" is a song written and recorded by American country music singer Hank Williams that was first released in July 1952. The melody is based on the Cajun song "Grand Texas."

Williams recorded the song on June 13,1952 at Castle Studio in Nashville with backing provided by Jerry Rivers (fiddle), Don Helms (steel guitar), Chet Atkins (lead guitar), Chuck Wright (bass) and probably Ernie Newton (bass).

After Williams released his version, Cajuns recorded the song again using Cajun instruments. However, they used Williams' lyrics translated into the Cajun French language. "Jambalaya" remains one of Hank Williams' most popular songs today.

International, translated or derived versions do exist at least in Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, Italian, Polish, German, Spanish, and Estonian.


Lafayette KOA
537 Apollo Road
Scott, LA 70583
GPS: 30.246756o, -092.111321o


Light fiction here at Opuscule


Lafayette, LA

"We had the land and they wanted It"

History books are written by the winners. I grew up learning American history from the conventional history books. All about our heroic revolution, our terrible civil war, and our inspired westward expansion. Now in my senior years, traveling the country in our RV with time to observe and reflect, I get a glimpse of the dark side of those stories – Trail of Tears, the Mormon Exodus, the Great Expulsion, among others.

In 2016, we joined an RV caravan to the Maritime Provinces of Canada. In Nova Scocia, I learned the beginning of the story of the Acadian people and about the Great Expulsion. I was shocked that I had never heard of this before. A possible excuse being that this was Canadian history not American history (that's an oxymoron for sure). You can research the terrible tale of the Great Expulsion on your own. One of the many ends to that tale is here in 'Cajun Country'.

I wanted to learn more and I certainly wanted to have some 'Cajun Cooking'. A couple days in Lafayette, LA would do it. So I built a two day stop here in Lafayette into our travel schedule.
"Lafayette is considered to be the center of Acadiana, the area of Cajun and Louisiana Creole culture in the state. It developed following the relocation of Acadians after their expulsion by the British from eastern Canada in the late 18th century following France's defeat in the Seven Years' War. There is also a strong Louisiana Creole influence in the area, as this mixed-race population became landowners and businesspeople."


So what is the difference between Cajun and Creole? I'm sure this won't help a bit.
Cajuns identify themselves as descendants of Acadian refugees.

Creole derives from the Spanish and Portuguese words criollo/criolo, which referred to someone born in the Americas during the colonial period. Creole is a term still used throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to describe local indigenous culture and people. In Louisiana, the term often describes the blending of French, African, Native American, and Spanish people and traditions, as well as those people of French or Spanish descent who are not Cajun. In southwest Louisiana, the term can refer more specifically to people of African descent who have French, Spanish, and/or Native American heritage.

Wikipedia says this about Creole: "In the United States, the word 'Creole' refers to people of any race or mixture thereof who are descended from colonial French La Louisiane and colonial Spanish Louisiana (New Spain) settlers before the Louisiana region became part of the United States in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. Both the word and the ethnic group derived from a similar usage, which began in the 16th Century, in the Caribbean that distinguished people born in the French, Spanish, and Portuguese colonies from the various new arrivals born in their respective, non-Caribbean homelands."

I blockquoted this entire discussion to be sure no one gets the idea that I invented this mess. Only the first sentence makes sense. Cajuns know who they are. I don't know how anyone could possibly decide whether or not they are Creole.

This morning we visited Vermilionville Historic Village – a Cajun and Creole living history museum with restored historic structures.

The village consists of quite a few restored structures representing the history of the area. I'll mention two.

Broussard House

Maison Broussard (Broussard House): A Large Acadian Plantation Home

The Broussard House dates to 1790 and is the oldest building in Vermilionville. Built in the French Creole style, it was the home of Armand Broussard, who immigrated to Louisiana as a child from Acadian Canada. Armand was the son of Joseph "Beausoleil" Boussard, the famous Acadian resistance fighter who brought over two hundred Acadian refugees from Canada to the Poste des Attakapas in 1765. At the age of sixteen, Armand registered his first cattle brand, and eventually became a prosperous rancher with his wife Anne Benoit and their fourteen children. Broussard was also a military veteran who served in both the American Revolution and at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

The Broussard Plantation like most large farming operations used slave labor. Enslaved persons in southwest Louisiana were a culturally diverse group, comprised of native-born Africans of numerous different ethnic groups from across western and central Africa, French-speaking Creole persons of color, and English-speaking persons of color from the eastern states. Enslaved workers performed skilled jobs in the construction trades, blacksmithing, cattle droving, laundering and cooking, as well as less skilled jobs such as field hands and general labor.

Boucvalt House

Maison Boucvalt (Boucvalt House): An Urban Dwelling from the late 1800s

This house was originally located in downtown Opelousas. The house is named after the last owner, Dr. Roy Boucvalt Jr.

The house is an example of Acadian/Creole architecture with some Victorian characteristics. Creole design includes the use of adjoining rooms with no central hallway. The layout centers on a large living area flanked by bedrooms. Transom windows above the doors allowed ventilation to induce cooling air while also allowing closed-door privacy. The large porch offered protection from the sun and rain, and the louvered shutters blocked harsh sunlight while allowing airflow for a cooling effect. Victorian features include the decorative balusters and elaborate column capitals.

The village includes a restaurant that was not open when we visited.

La Cuisine de Maman Restaurant

La Cuisine de Maman Restaurant

That turned out to be OK because unknown to us at the time we would return to this very spot this afternoon on our Food Tour


Lafayette KOA
537 Apollo Road
Scott, LA 70583
GPS: 30.246756o, -092.111321o


Light fiction here at Opuscule

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Tallahassee Automobile & Collectibles Museum

Tallahassee, FL

It is human nature to be a collector of something. When a man's collection becomes big enough to need a two-story building to house it, you have a museum. So it is with Devoe Moore.

Yesterday we got underway for our summer 2018 adventure to Utah. We covered 305 miles, arriving here at The Tallahassee Automobile & Collectibles Museum – a Harvest Hosts Site.

Let me offer a brief explanation (and a plug) for Harvest Hosts. Their tagline is "Unique Overnight Stops at Wineries, Farms & Attractions." This is a membership organization putting RVers and businesses together. The business offers free overnight dry camping at their location. The etiquette is that you will call ahead, arrive during business hours, and buy something. The Harvest Hosts website provides the location and description of all participating businesses. We have belonged for several years and manage to use a couple of their locations on every trip. The hosts are interesting people and we leave with some fresh farm produce or a couple bottles of wine. An "Attraction" is usually a museum – like our present location.

The highway sign says Automobile Museum, so does the dedication plaque ...
Street Sign

Dedication Plaque

It looks like they had quite a party

... but inside there is more – much more. Their tagline is "It's More Than A Museum... It's A Journey Through History"

Automobiles, of course. The oldest one I spotted was this:

1909 Hupmobile
Robert C. Hupp learned auto manufacturing from Ransom Olds and the Ford Motor Company. In 1908, he completed his own design and started production in Detroit. This brand lasted for almost thirty years.

Here are a few more. I can't begin to show pictures of all them, so I picked a few that I liked.

1939 Ford "Special" Roadster

The famous Ford F-100

1956 Ford F-100 Custom

There are many classics like these:

1948 Tucker

1954 Kaiser Darrin

1940 Ford Deluxe Moonshiner

An impressive collection of Corvettes ...

... and Ford Mustangs

Then there is my absolute all-time favorite car

The "First". The 1955 Ford Thunderbird

I found some personal recollections in Devoe' collection.

My first new car was a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle, much like this one.

That roof rack carried my stuff on my first cross-country trip from Ohio to California

But I always have a pang of regret that I didn't buy the Karman Ghia

Devoe started his working life as a farrier (shoes horses).

Devoe Moore's mobile blacksmith shop

As you enter the building a sea of automobiles to the left and a collection of Steinway pianos to the right. Who can collect famous grand pianos? Devoe Moore, that's who.

Every one of these pianos has a story.

Steinway replica of the Alma-Tadema

Replica of the 100,000th Steinway, now in the Smithsonian

Replica of the Steinway "Peace Prize" piano

500,000th art case piano laser etched with signatures of 800 Steinway artists

Chihuly Olympia Steinway

On September 1, 2016, these five Devoe Moore's Steinway pianos went to Florida State University for a concert by the Five Browns. That concert and those artists are stories in themselves. For those interesting stories, I'll refer you to this article in the FSU News
I would love to have been at that concert

Like I said – every one of these pianos has a story. A Google search will turn up a gold mine of information. You can do that yourself, I must move on.

The museum website lists these collections.
Adding MachinesAntique Cash RegistersAntique Spark Plugs
Antique Time PiecesAutomobilesBatmobiles
BoatsBoat MotorsBrass Fans
DollsFishing LuresGeneral Store Exhibit
Native American ArtifactsPedal CarsSports Memorabilia
Steinway Pianos. .. .

I'm sure I missed some of them. I'll include a few more photos to tickle your interest.

Outboard motors

A doll collection

A section just for Batman and all his modes of transportation

Pedal cars


It was a great day spent with Devoe Moore and his collections and I thank him for his hospitality.

I could write a lot more but it is time to stop. Enjoy the post and put the Tallahassee Automobile & Collectibles Museum on your list of places to visit. Tomorrow we move on to Biloxi, MS.


Tallahassee Automobile & Collectibles Museum
6800 Mahan Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32308
GPS: 30.485910, -84.163169