My friend Trisha decided to come down for a visit from Memphis over MLK weekend. We’ve been counting down the days until she got here. Last night we planned to hear the Molly Ringwalds at the Varsity Theatre, but, alas, we got stuck in a major traffic jam that had something to do with a semi that was stuck on stumps. Don’t ask me… I couldn’t figure it out either, but it took us 2 hours to get to BR from the Amtrak station, and, by the time we got to BR, we decided to make it an early night. I have been dying to go to the Zydeco Breakfast at the Cafe des Ami in Breaux Bridge, Bucket List Louisianne Item #24. So, we got up this morning and decided to check it out.
We drove across the Mississippi River Bridge and the Atchafalaya Swamp before we crossed the bridge over Bayou Teche to arrive in Breaux Bridge. There was a short line outside, and we had to pay $5 cover to get in and put our name on the waiting list for a table for breakfast. I got a stamp on my hand at the front door at 10 AM. I’m used to getting stamped for night life, but I felt a little weird about getting a hand stamp this early in the morning. But, my mind really did a second take when we walked into what appeared to be a late evening bar party in full daylight. The dance floor was packed, the bartender was hopping, and the music was blasting amid biscuits and eggs and coffee aroma. I knew there would be music, but I didn’t expect a full on party for breakfast. But, that’s exactly what it was.
Our waitress, Meaghan, was pretty funny. She asked how I wanted my eggs….. “fertilized” she giggled. It took me a minute before I realized what she said. We consulted on the menu and she suggested we have the 1/2 and 1/2 order of biscuits with crawfish etouffee and crawfish au gratin. I took the cheese grits, and Trisha got the andouille grits. I was thrilled to have my 1/2 and 1/2 brought out in a little silver pitcher. I was home. And, the party was just starting. I learned to two step Cajun style, and we people-watched and shared beignets with our Harley rider breakfast companions. Our waitress had to leap over the bar to assist a man who passed out and was a little late bringing our check. It was really fun and just plain invigorating to be part of a morning party of such magnitude. There were tourists and many locals. Meaghan said they have lots and lots of tourists, many from places as far away as London and Australia. We said good-bye, I gave her a blog card and promised I’d be back.
Monroe’s Dress Shop
Walking back to the car, my attention was grabbed by some shiny party dresses in the window at Monroe’s. Beautiful, expensive, opulent dresses were hanging in the window of this little shop in this tiny Cajun town. I had to go in, and, as soon as I did, I knew I had to try some of these things on. It is Mardi Gras season here, and the place was packed. It’s owned by a Mother – Daughter team, and they have customers from hundreds of miles away that buy dresses for balls, parties and pageants. I had to wait for a dressing room, and they let out their mascot Kennedy for us to play with while we waited. Kennedy is about a 3 pound Pomeranian that was cute as a button. The younger owner said everybody knows Kennedy, and I should mention him in the blog. So, there you go, Kennedy….. make me famous.
I tried on a few dresses and decided I couldn’t afford the price tags since I don’t have an upcoming event to attend anyway. But, I sure did find a couple that I’d like to buy if I have a need one day. The store was filled with images of Marilyn Monroe, the queen of sexy. I was by far the oldest gal in there trying on dresses. Most were young gals probably looking for pageant dresses, and they were just beautiful. Moms tucked and pulled to make sure dresses fit. When we were leaving, one young lady had on a cylinder dress that had black and sheer stripes all the way down. She looked amazing! I hope she got that one. It was definitely a show-stopper on her.
We decided to head out to Longfellow Evangeline State Historic Area, but I pulled a fast one when I saw the sign to Lake Martin. We headed down there so I could show Trisha the swamp and were so excited when we saw they were giving swamp tours. That was number 1 on my Bucket List. I was going to get two in one day. The lady at the counter took our $20 and called the tour operator that was just leaving the dock to tell him to turn around and come get us. Imagine our delight when we saw a boat filled with 6 Italian men coming back to get us. Holy Cripe! It was our lucky day. As I turned the corner on the dock, an animal leaped out of the garbage can and about scared me to death. It was the little known and very dangerous swamp kitten that had been attracted to the leftover food in plastic containers in the trash can. She hissed and spat at Ashok who stood there a little confused at the behavior of this tiny animal.
We toured Lake Martin on this beautiful sunny day. Our Black Cajun guide – or would that be Creole – told us about the cypress trees, the heron rookery, duck hunting and the bayou that filled the lake. We both got a little sun, and my dog, who got to come along, showed Trisha and I how to flirt with Italian men by sidling up by all of them. We had a blast. On the way back, Ashok tried to nap while the rest of us tried to say warm. All in all, we saw turtles, herons, egrets, woodpeckers and cormorants. It was too cold to find a gator, and the only one we saw was the plastic one outside the little store.
It’s hard to believe it was a January day. All of these years I’ve lived up north, and the time between New Year’s and Easter is barren of holidays with the tiny exception of Valentine’s Day which is most of the time a big disappointment. Those are dreary, cold days spent digging out of snow or at least scraping ice off the car and bundling up to keep warm. It’s this time of the year when depression usually sets in for me. But here, my calendar is filled with upcoming Mardi Gras parties and parades. Mornings are perked up with sugar from King Cakes. And today there was dancing at breakfast, beer amid biscuits and party dresses with sparkles, bangles and bows. As I was leaving the dress shop, I stopped to notice a camelia bush in full bloom. I had to laugh at the irony of it all. In most parts of this country, the world is covered in white and bare branches. But, here, in Cajun Country in Louisiana, there are flowers in January. I kind of like that, y’all.