Report from (South) Louisiana: Good food, Good Times, and Happy New Year

Posted: January 3, 2022 by Pat Austin in Uncategorized
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By:  Pat Austin

ARNAUDVILLE LA – Welcome 2022! I did not post last week – you may not have noticed (ha!).  As you may or may not recall I retired from teaching in May. As a state employee in Louisiana, I did not pay into Social Security but instead into the Teachers Retirement System for the state. However, previous private sector jobs means that a little Social Security dividend may be on the horizon if I can get nine more quarters. So, I have picked up a part time job working as the secretary at my church. It is a nice three-day a week gig, 18 hours, and eventually I’ll get my nine quarters. All that to say, I didn’t post last week because I was juggling off days so I could go out of town over the New Year’s weekend.

There’s no way I was staying in Shreveport over New Year’s weekend, I mean…seriously. Guns fired in the air…sounding like a third world country.

We spent the past week in my beloved south Louisiana, in a tiny town called Arnaudville, which I love. The population here is about 1500, but we are 15 miles from Breaux Bridge, about 25 miles from Lafayette, an hour away from Baton Rouge, and a little further than that from New Orleans but I don’t need to go to NOLA except to see the WWII museum. 

I’m sure I’ve waxed rhapsodic about my Cajun paradise before, but man it has been a great week. You’ll never find friendlier people anywhere on the planet – of this I am convinced.

This part of Louisiana is a conservative bastion. NOLA is another story, but Cajun Country is ultra conservative. We have had very interesting conversations with people here and met many like minds. As a rule, these Cajun people are hard-working, family oriented, and faith based. Work hard, play hard.

It is depressing to think about returning to Shreveport this week. Shreveport is a culinary desert. Nothing but chain restaurants and heavy on the Mexican and Chinese. You would think that just three hours to the north of Arnaudville I could get decent seafood, but you would be wrong. I can get decent frozen seafood, but here, in south Louisiana I can get seafood fresh and prepared in delicious sauces that would make you weep. Lump crabmeat topped with crawfish etouffee, hot steaming crawfish seasoned with a spicy Cajun blend, and fried alligator so tender it melts in your mouth.

We have stocked our freezer in our Air BnB with food to take home: chicken thighs stuffed with boudin and pepperjack cheese, wrapped in bacon; a pork roast stuffed with bell peppers, onions, and garlic, a pork chops stuffed with crawfish dressing. I can’t get food like this three hours from here.

Last night we went to a local brewery famous for their beer of course, but also their wood fired pizza. My favorite is the Alien Autopsy which is topped with a spicy tasso ham, andouille sausage, and candied jalapenos. For New Year’s Day they offered an eggroll stuffed with black eyed peas and shredded cabbage. We listened to live Zydeco music, people danced under the live oaks, and we talked with a local business owner for hours about the state of our country. His recommendation, in short, is for all the producers to just go “off the grid” and quit feeding the system. Quit supporting the welfare state.

He may not be wrong.

Here in Arnaudville, there are two Catholic churches served by the same priest. He is fabulous. To attend an Episcopalian service, we’d have to drive into Lafayette, probably.  So, when here, we walk down half a block to the Catholic church and listen to Fr. Travis. He is young, energetic, and always on point. His sermons are amazing. And I love a town where you can go to the brewery to hear a live Cajun jam, order a pizza, and run into the priest. We were able to visit with Fr. Travis today and discuss several theological questions we had while the fiddles and accordians played sad Cajun ballads and lively dance tunes across the room.

I hope we can move here soon and get out of Shreveport. My son is in nursing school, starting clinicals, and I don’t want to move off until he is on his own two feet. But man alive, I can’t wait to get out of Shreveport. Life is short and I want to spend the rest of my time in a happy place with good food, good music, good people.

Here’s hoping the New Year brings good things to us all.

  1. Pod Hamp says:

    Hah, you sound like my wife. She had a 33 year Federal career under the old non-social security retirement system. But she got enough quarters in with part-time jobs before and after to qualify for Social Security. The only problem is that her monthly benefits are not enough to pay for Medicare. So she has to write the government a check for about $10 every three months to make up the difference.

    Hope you are able to make the change to get where you want to be. Actually though, although I like Cajun food, the Mexican sounds even better. That’s likely because there’s a lot more Mexican immigrants in this part of the country. Oh, and by the way, your readers do notice when you don’t post.