I visited my sister today in Cottonport LA. Cottonport was an actual port stop for boats on the way to New Orleans. Obviously, one of the main crops at that time was cotton, so the name stuck. The bayou now is not navigable, so boats no longer travel it, but the little town of Cottonport has survived the loss of the trade. She just bought her house on the bayou, so it was the first time I visited. I drove the back roads through sugar cane fields and across the Morganza Spillway to get there. My dog was so intrigued by the new scenery she didn’t even take a nap. Her eyes were completely glued to the road.
We went out to lunch and went shopping in Alexandria, one of the larger towns and the home of a satellite campus of LSU where my niece Hannah goes to school. On the way back from our trip into town, we stopped at the Piggly Wiggly in Bunkie for dinner provisions. The founder of Bunkie had a daughter that had a monkey. She couldn’t say monkey, and it always came out Bunkie. That’s how the town was named.
I love grocery stores in Louisiana. They are very different than the stores in other areas mainly because the diet here is very different. The first thing I noticed was the rice aisle. Every dish that is made down here contains rice or is served over rice. Gumbo is served over rice. Etouffee is served over rice. Hell, one of the most popular dishes in these parts is rice and gravy. Yes, it’s just gravy served over rice. One of my Cajun friends used to eat rice for breakfast with butter and cinnamon sugar on top. It’s a staple.
They had 25 pound bags of white rice in the Piggly Wiggly. They had brown rice, but it was a 2 lb. bag. Rice almost took up a whole row. There was long grain, short grain, and medium grain rice. When something is stuck like glue to something here, people say it’s “like white on rice.” Everybody knows what that means. You just can’t take the white off rice… period.
My niece and I then decided to go around the store and take pictures of weird food that was eaten in Bunkie. Actually, it’s not weird, it’s just different, but I’m going to call it weird for right now. First, there was the boudin section. I don’t mean they had a few packages of boudin. They had a section. I love boudin. It’s the perfect driving food. It’s like rice dressing – for all you yankees – that is wrapped in a sausage casing. You hold the casing and squeeze the rice dressing out of the casing and eat it like one of those push-up pops. We gawked at all of the meats, and I have no idea what some of those things are. I’m certainly not about to eat them.
This is a small store, and my sister told me to go check out the beer aisle. I was astounded at all of the different kinds of beer they sold, and then Hannah told me to go into the beer cooler where they have cold cases of beer. Geez …. there was a lot of beer, and then it always freaks me out that groceries – even the Piggly Wiggly in Bunkie – have a complete liquor store right next to the Blue Bell ice cream. If one addiction don’t get you, the other one will.
They had a T-shirt for sale, actually several styles, with the phrase Nothing Runs like a Pig – a play on the John Deere slogan. Duck Dynasty shirts took up the rest of the rack. There were a couple of cases of moon pies left in the birthday cake case. I’m not sure if they belonged there or not. Maybe somebody had picked up moon pies but then decided they’d rather have a real birthday cake. But, then again, maybe moon pies belong in the refrigerated birthday cake section in Bunkie. They’d be a great dessert after a celebratory meal of white rice and gravy alongside a family pack of pig’s feet served with some Jagermeister. I’d warm up a chocolate moonpie and add a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream on top. Finish it all off with a cup of Community Coffee. Yum! Yum! That’d be living it up, Bunkie style!