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HUR R I CA N L AURA : RALLYING TO GE T HE R FO R RECOV ERY

TAILGATE AT HOME IN S TYLE WITH A CHIC HOME BAR

ACADIANA’S RES TAURANTS AND BARS FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL AMID UNCERTAINTY

OCT/NOV 2020

GRIT+ GLORY


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oct/nov VO LUM E 39 NUM B E R 05

6 LAGNIAPPE

A Little Extra

18 RECETTES DE COCKTAILS

12 NOUVELLES DE VILLES

Native son returns to helm a new bistro and wine bar that exemplifies his trademark farm-to-glass sensibilities

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36 LETTRES D’AMOUR

10 NOTE DE L’EDITEUR

Editor’s Note

News Briefs

LES ARTISTE

St. Martinville artist Dennis Paul Williams draws on his faith for artistic inspiration 16 DE LA CUISINE

Dreaming up menus for duck, seasonal veggies and citrus

A medley of holiday memories shapes a sixthgeneration child of Acadiana 38 PLUS ÇA CHANGE

Jourdan Thibodeaux and Cedric Watson join forces 40 EN FRANÇAIS, S’IL VOUS PLAÎT

La Canne à Sucre: Une histoire aigre-douce

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Stock the Bar

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Grit + Glory

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Rallying Point

This season we’re tailgating in the living room and bellying up to the home bar. What’ll ya have? Tiki vibes, city chic and casual beers are all on the menu. Cheers!

Acadiana’s restaurants and bars fight for survival amid uncertainty

The region pulls together in Lake Charles and the surrounding area in the wake of Hurricane Laura


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AWARDS LAGNIAPPE

International and Regional Magazine Association

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

Learn French dinde (n.) turkey

2019

example: Pour Thanksgiving, nous allons manger de la dinde avec des haricots verts, de la purée de pommes de terre et du gumbo. translation: For Thanksgiving, we are going to eat turkey with green beans, mashed potatoes and gumbo.

DID YOU KNOW?

In Louisiana, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without that beloved turkey, duck, chicken hybrid that we know as turducken.

Winner Magazine of the Year

E D ITO RIA L

Managing Editor Melanie Warner Spencer

Gold Overall Art Direction

Associate Editor Ashley McLellan Copy Editor Liz Clearman Art Director Sarah George Lead Photographer Danley Romero Web Editor Kelly Massicot Editorial Intern Alice Phillips “Gumbo! My family’s afterThanksgiving tradition is a bringyour-own-bowl meal with gumbo made from the leftover turkey.” Kelly Massicot

A DV E RTISING

Sales Manager Rebecca Taylor (337) 298-4424 / (337) 235-7919 Ext. 230 Rebecca@acadianaprofile.com Intern Reece McDaniel

“It’s not a dish, but it’s a tradition in my family to enjoy a grasshopper cocktail on special occasions. The drink was invented by Philip Guichet Sr., a Lafourche Parish native, who later owned Tujague’s restaurant in New Orleans, where the drink is still a staple.” Melanie Warner Spencer

RENA I SSA NC E PU BLS H I NG

Bronze Cover 2018

Gold Overall Art Direction Gold Magazine Photographer

Silver Magazine Writer of the Year Silver Hed & Dek

P RO D U C TIO N

Subscriptions Jessica Armand

Bronze Illustration

Gold Department

Coordinator Abbie Dugruise

C IRC U LATIO N

Bronze Magazine Writer of the Year

Gold Food Feature

MA RK ETING

Designer Rosa Balaguer

Gold Photo Series Silver Photographer of the Year

Gold Art Direction of a Single Story

Silver Photo Series

Manager Emily Andras Though its precise origins are largely disputed, many agree this delicious bird trifecta originated in Louisiana, and Paul Prudhomme claimed credit for its creation, even trademarking the name in 1986. Turducken comes from a long tradition of engastration, which is cramming one or more animals inside one or more others and then cooking and consuming the whole layered ensemble together — in this case, it’s a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. With turducken, you can kill three birds with one stone. Birds of a feather roast together. A bird in the hand is worth three in the oven? You get the idea.

Gold Art Direction Single Story

Bronze Portrait Series Either my mom’s maque choux or her squash and bacon casserole. Emily Andras

Distribution John Holzer A DMIN ISTRATIO N

Office Manager Mallary Wolfe Chief Executive Officer Todd Matherne For subscriptions call 877-221-3512

Bronze Reader Service Article Bronze Travel Package 2017

Gold Overall Art Direction Gold Magazine Photographer of the Year Gold Art Direction of a Single Story Gold Food Feature Silver Cover Bronze Magazine Writer of the Year 2016

Gold Overall Art Direction

1 1 0 V E T E R A N S B LV D . S U I T E 1 2 3 . M E TA I R I E , L A 7 0 0 0 5 . 5 0 4 - 8 2 8 - 1 3 8 0 . 8 7 7 - 2 2 1 - 3 5 1 2 1 2 8 D E M A N A D E . S U I T E 1 0 4 . L A FAY E T T E , L A 7 0 5 0 3 . 3 3 7 - 2 3 5 - 7 9 1 9 E X T. 2 3 0 Acadiana Profile (ISSN 0001-4397) is published bimonthly with a special issue in September by Renaissance Publishing LLC, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005 (504) 828-1380 and 128 Demanade, Suite 104, Lafayette, LA 70503 (337) 235-7919 ext. 230. Subscription rate: One year $10; Foreign Subscriptions vary. Periodicals postage paid at Lafayette, LA, and additional mailing entry offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Acadiana Profile, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005. Copyright 2020 Renaissance Publishing LLC. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of the publisher. The trademark Acadiana Profile is registered. Acadiana Profile is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos and artwork, even if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. The opinions expressed in Acadiana Profile are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine or owner.

Gold Magazine Photographer of the Year Gold Art Direction of a Single Story Silver Photo Series Bronze Magazine Writer of the Year Bronze Portrait Series


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NOT E D E L’E D I TEU R

Each year in the October/November issue of Acadiana Prof ile, we celebrate the best chefs and restaurants in the region. This issue is no exception, however our focus is much different this time around, given the struggles the restaurant and bar industry have endured as owners and their staff navigate COVID-19. Every sector of business and life is impacted by the pandemic, but in a place where food and drink dominate our daily lives, conversations and the very culture, watching the people who bring us our sustenance suffer is particularly heart wrenching. Rather than omit the annual feature or push it to some unknown time when the economy has improved, we decided instead to visit with the community. How are they doing? What creative ways have they discovered to continue serving their loyal customers? What’s next? Of course, none of us knows what’s truly next. Rather, we all are just doing the best we can in an unprecedented situation. There is one thing that is for certain however and that is the spirit of not only the restaurateurs, chefs and staff in the back and the front of the house, but also the communities they serve. When we couldn’t break bread together, they brought food to us curbside and those of us with cash to spare over-ordered, overtipped and air hugged the masked staffers who’ve felt like extended family as they handed over lovingly prepared family meals. As soon as they could invite us into their dining rooms again, they cleared out half of the tables and chairs to make space to keep us safe and flung open the doors, with joyful smiles evident in their eyes. As of press time, the barstools in the watering holes that are like second living rooms to many of us are still empty. We continue to donate to the virtual tip jars of our favorite bartenders and barbacks and the musicians who’ve filled countless evenings and weekends with song. We aren’t sure when we’ll be able to Cajun dance together again, but until then, we’ll keep twirling about at home and on our porches and in our yards to online concerts. In the middle of it all, there’s hurricane season. The devastation to our loved ones in the Lake Charles area has been vast, but then so has the recovery effort. In this issue, we are also celebrating the people rebuilding, feeding and lending a helping hand to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Laura. It will take time and a lot of work, but we have no doubt whatsoever that the affected areas will be revitalized and come back stronger than ever. No matter what the future holds, Acadianians will do what they have always done — come together and persevere. Stay strong, Acadiana.

Melanie Warner Spencer, Managing Editor 504-830-7259 • Melanie@AcadianaProfile.com

Get more Acadiana Profile at acadianaprofile.com and by following us on Instagram and Facebook.

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AC ADIANA PROFILE OCTOB ER/NOVEMBER 2020

In Other News by Lisa LeBlanc-Berry

Puppy Love As a nod to the epic 2020 hurricane season, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry launched a GoFundMe campaign to accept monetary donations to aid in animal relief efforts gofundme.com/f/ldaf-animalrescue-relief-fund

GOLDEN MEADOW

Hail to Our Oyster Heroes! Danos recently completed a project requiring the installation of a reef structure into the marsh of Golden Meadow and nearby Catfish Lake (to prevent erosion). The infrastructure was designed and fabricated through 3D printing technology by partner Natrx. Forty-five modules were strategically installed, enabling protection for the 2020 fall oyster spats being seeded into barriers, and allowing an expected 1 million pounds of oysters and sediment to accrue over the next three years.

New Bookstore Bar LAFAYETTE Beausoleil Books (formerly Cloves Indian Restaurant at 302 Jefferson St.), opening in October, is designed as a cultural destination for lovers of books, wine and other local products. Featuring books in French, new best-sellers and books by diverse authors. New concept: The Whisper Room, a secluded wine bar and cocktail lounge with charcuterie and cheese boards for groups of 25. beausoleilbooks.com

Be sure to call ahead for COVID-19-related closures before visiting any of the places listed.


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NO UVEL L ES DE VI L L ES by Lisa LeBlanc-Berry

Starry Night Supper DARROW View Kevin Kelly’s new 30,000-square-foot Great River Road Museum and Interpretive Center at Houmas House with tickets to “Beyond the Boat.” This outdoor supper club features socially distanced elegance amid a progressive seafood tasting on Oct. 11 (postponed from March). bontempstix.com/ events/beyond-the-boat-aspecial-spring-supper-clubpresented-by-louisianaseafood-10-11-2020

YOUNGSVILLE, BATON ROUGE

Drive-By Pizza The Baton Rouge-based LIT Pizza, owned by GO Eat Concepts, recently opened inside Metairie Center. Customers can build their own pizza with freshly made dough, select toppings and, once finished, pizzas are fastfired in under five minutes (option to add more toppings afterwards). This location is unique for its drive-through perk, so you don’t have to leave your pandemic safety car bubble lit.pizza

Old Blue Dog, New Trick

For 4-legged and 2-legged Pals Lafayette Bark in the Park 2020, hosted by Acadiana Animal Aid as a fundraiser for homeless pets, is featuring doggy spa services, a pet photo booth and doggy contests (plus a microchipping clinic). For your 2-legged fur babies, activities include the fun jump, games and rides, Nov. 8 in Girard Park. Check out the adoptable dogs, vendors and rescue booths purecountry1067.com/event/bark-in-the-park-2020

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AC ADIANA PROFILE OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020

Be sure to call ahead for COVID19-related closures before visiting any of the places listed.

LAFAYETTE If you’re wondering whatever happened to Blue Dog Café, Bon Temps Grill has relocated in the storied George Rodriguedinspired space after extensive renovations that include a remodeled craft cocktail bar. Look for the introduction of a New Orleans-style Sunday jazz brunch. Opening is set for October or November bontempsgrill.com


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L’ART

Prayerful Painting

In addition, Williams, who studied art at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and once painted alongside famed Louisiana artist Elemore Morgan Jr., is featured in two books — “Spirits of the Gods” with poems by 2019-2021 Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith, St. Martinville artist Dennis and “Soul Exchange” by Louisiana photographer Paul Williams draws on his Philip Gould, with an essay by former Louisiana His Zenlike imagery, perhaps influenced by faith for artistic inspiration Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque. his time in Japan with the Marine Corps, takes To Smith, Williams’s paintings are “something divine and spiritual” and “simply beau- the spectral form of a Madonna and child, or by John R. Kemp portrait by Philip Gould an African-American Creole woman wearing tiful.” To Bourque, they have a “disarming a “tignon,” rising in cloudlike mists much beauty next to the unknowable, unspeakable like the iconography of his beloved Catholic and inarticulable void.” church. His inspirations are the Virgin Mary, The 61-year-old St. Martinville native’s The Bible tells us the prayer “of a righteous mixed-media paintings are indeed spiritual. his grandmother and his mother, who raised man is powerful and effective.” Now witness 10 children after his father died at the age of 39. He begins each painting with a prayer and “soulful impressions” and prayerful paintings meditation. If an image rises in his imagina- Williams was then only 10. Like the Rosary he by St. Martinville artist Dennis Paul Williams, tion, he paints. If it doesn’t, he walks away. recites daily, Williams’ paintings are healing a righteous man. bouquets offered up to motherhood. These images, and the colors he chooses, must The Louisiana music world knows Williams “My mother and the Virgin Mary are indelbe spiritually significant. To him, they repreas the guitarist in his brother’s band Nathan ible impressions of inner strength,” he says. sent the “powerful tool” of prayer. & The Zydeco Cha Chas. St. Martinville resi“My work expresses movement of life. “My art is a meditation, not just a dents know him best as a member of the city Every mother is a creator. I am blessed painting,” Williams says. “They are council. Yet in the visual arts, galleries from prayers. A painting must have a voice To see more that God has allowed me to see things.” Los Angeles to New York as well as in Canada Williams’ spiritual meditations and of his work or it means nothing. I am so moved and Japan have featured Williams’ mystical by the power of prayer. They are more visit dennispaul- “soulful impressions” become a transferpaintings inspired by his Creole Catholic spiritual than religious. They Lord williams.com ence to the viewer, thereby completing upbringing along Bayou Teche. the circle. n shows me how to do this.”

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D E L A C U I SI NE

Supremes are sections of acitrusfruit with all of the pith and peel cut away. Once sliced, you can usethem in salads (and ceviche) or for garnishes. Since the bitter pith and peel are removed, you get a great citrus flavor.

Hearty Fare Dreaming up menus for duck, seasonal veggies and citrus by Marcelle Bienvenu photo & styling by Eugenia Uhl

As much as I like the summer season,

I admit that I’m ready for cooler weather when fall arrives. A nip in the air inspires me to give thought to hearty meals in which to integrate seasonal vegetables and citrus. Speaking of seasonal ingredients, I am always grateful when my hunting friends present me with a few teal ducks, which in my opinion, are both tasty and tender when prepared using my father’s method. He was an avid sportsman. A walk around my small citrus grove tells me that my satsumas, Meyer lemons and Persian limes are bearing fruit. I also noted that my neighbor has fennel plants (she always tells me to take what I need) that pairs well with tart oranges and peppery arugula that I have in my leaf lettuce bed. n

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The topinambours, also known as Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes, is what makes this dish so tasty as far as I’m concerned. The white flesh of these root vegetables has a nutty sweet taste — ideal with wild ducks. You can usually find them around this time of year in some supermarkets. If you can’t find them, substitute turnips, although the taste will not be quite the same.

FOR STARTERS

Fennel + Orange Salad

Combine ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard in a large salad bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Add 2 bunches arugula (trimmed and torn into large pieces) and 2 medium fennel bulbs (cored, halved and cut into thin strips) and toss just before serving.

Arrange the supremes of 3 blood or navel oranges, and ¼ cup oil-cured slivered black olives on the salad before serving. MAKES 4 SERVINGS

M A I N CO U R S E

D E S S E RT

Papa’s Roasted Teal

Lemon-Lime Pound Cake

I’m a big fan of wild rice (Uncle Ben is my personal favorite) with game, but you might want to peruse the rice section at your supermarket. There are some flavored packaged rices out there that might suit your taste buds better. The gravy and vegetables in the roasting pan are fabulous to spoon over any kind of rice you choose.

For dessert, a zesty, refreshing pound cake. MAKES 1 CAKE TO SERVE 8 TO 10

2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature 2 cups sugar

M AKES 8 SERVINGS

8 teals (oven ready) 4 garlic cloves, slivered

salt

cayenne

3 cups coarsely chopped green bell peppers 3 cups coarsely chopped onions 1 cup dry sherry

all-purpose flour

8 strips thickly sliced bacon 1½ cups chicken broth 1 pound fresh white button mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed and sliced 1½ pounds topinambours (Jerusalem artichokes), peeled and cut into chunks 3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1

Make a slit in each breast and insert one or two slivers of garlic in each hole. Generously rub each duck inside and out with salt and cayenne. Place ducks in a deep bowl.

2

Combine bell peppers and onions in a bowl and mix. Stuff half of the mixture in duck cavities and put remaining half around ducks. Add dry sherry. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours, turning ducks once or twice in the marinade.

3

Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove ducks from refrigerator, drain and reserve marinade. Dust ducks with flour and set aside.

4

Fry bacon in a large cast-iron pot or dutch oven over medium heat until just browned, but not crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Add ducks to pot and brown in bacon grease. Add chicken broth and cook for 10 minutes. Add reserved marinade. Lay a bacon strip over the breast of each duck. Cover and bake for about one to one and a half hours, or until ducks are tender. Baste occasionally with pan gravy and add more broth if gravy becomes dry.

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Add mushrooms and topinambours, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the topinambours are fork tender. Let duck rest for 10 minutes before carving to serve.

5 eggs, at room temperature 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest 1 tablespoon grated lime zest 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon baking powder 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice PREHEAT oven to 325 F. Butter and lightly flour a 9-by5-by-3-inch loaf pan. USING an electric mixer, cream butter until smooth. Gradually add 1½ cups of sugar and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon and lime zests. SIFT together flour, salt and baking powder. Add dry ingredients, about ½ cup at a time, to butter mixture, beating on low speed until all is blended. Spoon batter into pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the edges of the cake pulls slightly away from pan and the top springs back when touched. COOL cake in the pan on a wire rack for about five minutes. Combine remaining ½ cup sugar and lemon and lemon juice in a small nonreactive saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, for one to two minutes but do not boil. Remove from heat. INVERT pan to unmold cake over a sheet of waxed paper. While cake is still warm, brush it all over with hot citrus glaze. Let cool completely, lightly wrap in plastic wrap then in foil. Let it stand for at least one day before slicing. It will keep for one week.

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RECETTES DE CO C KTAI LS

Tippling in Thibodaux Native son returns to helm a new bistro and wine bar that exemplifies his trademark farm-to-glass sensibilities by Lisa LeBlanc-Berry photo by Romero & Romero

Situated on some of the highest ground in

Lafourche Parish, Cuvée Wine Bar and Bistro’s grassy patio overlooks picturesque Acadia Plantation. Illuminated by fire and fragrant with mouth-watering meats slowly rotating over an open hearth, the charming terrace attracts lovers and oenophiles on chilly, starlit evenings. Couples cuddle up while sipping fine wines and such creative craft cocktails as the Satsuma Dreamsicle Sour, popular for its sweet-tart kick, bourbonvanilla fragrance and luscious, velvety finish. Inside acclaimed Chef Nathan Richard’s industrial chic haven you’ll find specialty wines on tap, a central lounge area complete with rockers and wingbacks and an open kitchen with the intoxicating aroma of French fries sizzling in duck fat (finished with truffle oil), grilled redfish and rabbit fricassée. “We source all our ingredients locally, we create new cocktails daily, and everything is made inhouse,” says Richard. “I brine our ham with Steen’s, brown sugar and garlic and smoke it for about 12 hours.” Pumpkin sage and ham gnocchi is served as a special while hot bread is paddled out of the oven. Born on the bayou, the Cajun chef (aka King of American Seafood, King of Louisiana Seafood and Alligator Man) is a Thibodaux native and volunteer firefighter who grew up hunting and fishing. Check out his new “Cook My Catch” menu (guests produce their freshly caught fish or alligator meat, order from five culinary styles, and Richard prepares the feast). “I’m the type of chef who never likes to be locked into one thing, so my styles range from southern-inspired Italian to Cajun, Caribbean and European.” After more than a decade honing his skills in charcuterie with John Folse and Donald Link and serving as an executive chef at top New Orleans restaurants, Richard decided to return to his Cajun country roots for Cuvée, opened in July. “It has always been a dream of mine,” he says. “It was always my goal to come back home.”n

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Satsuma Dreamsicle Sour Add 2 ounces Pinhook bourbon, 2 ounces fresh satsuma juice, 1 ounce simple syrup, ½ ounce vanilla bean syrup and 1 egg white in a shaker over ice. Shake vigorously, pour into an old fashioned glass, top with more ice and garnish with a satsuma peel expressed over the top and rimmed.

116 Rue Angelique Thibodaux 985-387-1980 enjoycuvee.com


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This season we’re tailgating in the living room and bellying up to the home bar. What’ll ya have? Tiki vibes, city chic and casual beers are all on the menu. Cheers!

STOCK THE BAR

BY M AGGIE RICHARDSON PHOOTS BY HAYLEI SMITH


TOOLKIT

For a long time, I didn’t have a dining room table. A bar was more important. Ross Fontenot

Copper Party Cup This af fordable upgrade to the Solo cup befits a range of beverages and it keeps things hip – and ex tremely cool. thelife-riley.com

Sweet Crude Rum Local small batch Wildcat Brothers dis tiller y ’s awardwinning white rum anchors refreshing cock tails, including the cherr y-garnished of ficial drink of Lafayet te, the Rouler.

One of the coolest features of Ross Fontenot’s home bar is that he can stand behind it, mixing craft cocktails for his friends and family as they gather around. “I’m really proud of the way it works with the rest of the house,” says Fontenot, who owns Genterie Supply Co. “It’s very organic.” Brad’s Woodworks in Abbeville fashioned the bar from African rosewood (Bubinga), a hard, heavy wood with a rich grain. Fontenot stained it himself with clear satin polyurethane and installed a work surface made of black granite. A copper foot rail gives it an authentic feel. Fontenot and girlfriend Mitzi Guidry continue to added accents to keep it cozy and fun.

Fontenot stocks everyday spirits and mixers along with higher-end bottles on the bar’s lower shelves. Rum-centric tiki cocktails have captured his imagination during the pandemic — he’s been amassing rum and working his way through New Orleans restaurateur Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s book, “Sippin’ Safari.” Among the products you won’t find him without are his Koriko weighted shaking tins and a 5 ounce Anchor Hocking measuring glass, a simple, but essential companion to a 1 ounce jigger.

Southern Comforts While you sip, explore the my thology of drinking in the South in this collec tion of essays published by the LSU Press.

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TOOLKIT

You can go big or small. There’s such a wide range of elements to include in a home bar. It really depends on budget.

Locally grown garnishes Make your cock tail nex t-level with fresh fruit, herbs and honey raised by local growers. It makes all the dif ference. Lafayet te Farmers and Ar tisans Market

Elizabeth Gerace

The Spirit of Rice Southwes t Louisiana’s rice farming legacy is reimagined in J.T. Meleck ’s ridiculously smooth vodka and whiskey dis tilled from rice in the town of Branch. jtmeleck .net

Portable Cocktail Mixes Shor t cut tedious mixology with locally made por table cock tail mixes that are also per fec t for picnicking and power outages. leisuremanns. com/bees-knees

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Going big was the name of the game for this Elizabeth Gerace designed bar, an 11-foot space in a Bendel Gardens home that’s twice the size of your average home bar. Small appliances, shaker style cabinets and an expansive granite countertop are luxuriously aligned to make preparing coffee, tea and adult beverages a pleasure. Every type of beverage is given its due. Soft drinks and beer stay cold in the beverage center, while wine is chilled properly in a separate wine cooler. The icemaker drops ice nuggets (like the kind you get from Sonic), making cocktails a sumptuous experience. The Kohler undermount cast iron sink in Cane Sugar hue is set off by an elegant gooseneck Brizo faucet in Champagne Bronze (Facets, Lafayette).

AC ADIANA PROFILE OCTOB ER/NOVEMBER 2020

“I like to push a sink for a bar,” says Gerace. “It makes it a lot easier to clean barware.” A floor-to-ceiling cabinet on one end holds barware and linens and includes a coffee and tea nook that can hide behind retractable doors. The White Supreme granite countertop (Massimo) is the perfect spot for making cocktails. Styling features products on loan from Koi Boutique and The Kitchenary.


TOOLKIT

Swig Life Stemless Cups Tailgate-wor thy s temless cups keep your beverage refreshing and your surroundings tidy. No spills. The Kitchenar y

I love finding things that look expensive, but aren’t.

French Bistro Table What screams French café? This snazz y marble and iron bis tro table. bonnecaze.com

A shley Riley

These two entertaining enthusiasts saw a tidy taproom and bar in a former arts and crafts nook. “About the time our son was getting out of crafts,” says Lon Riley, “I was getting into craft beer.” The first step was to install a double tap to serve Lon’s home brews, stowed in chilled tanks in the cabinet below. “Then we figured we should go the distance and really redo the rest of the area,” recalls wife, Ashley, who is passionate about affordable and offbeat home décor and barware. The couple runs the online retail business The Life of Riley (TheLife-Riley.com), which specializes in artisan cocktail items.

Using makeover maven Joanna Gaines’ sultry paint color, Blackboard, on the walls, cabinets and open shelves sets off the area from the white walls that dominate the rest of the house. Brookdale hexagon cement tile by Soci (United Tile) brings an edgy, modern look, while the countertop is simple faux wood. Drawers that once held crayons and paints now hold copper bar tools and conversation-starting cocktail napkins.

Cocktail Spoon When your drink procedure is s tirred-notshaken, this elegant cock tail spoon gets the job done. thelife-riley.com

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ACA DI A N A’S R E S TAUR ANT S AND BA R S F IG H T FOR

for the restaurant’s opening was being prepared with Evans’ award as a key piece of telling the Luna story. At the same time, world health experts and leaders were slowly addressing an unseen pathogen whose symptoms were strange and unpredictable outcomes ranged from no symptoms to sudden death. In early March, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards held a meeting with cabinet officials and other leaders which eventually led to the creation of the COVID-19 Task Force. On March 16, 2020, Governor Edwards signed a proclamation aimed at stymying the growing health threat COVID-19 was becoming. To date, in Louisiana, the contagious respiratory Luna Bar and Grill chef and owner Dave illness has killed thousands and sickened tens Evans was on top of the world on Jan. 30, 2020. of thousands. He attended the Louisiana Travel Association’s Evans along with other restaurant and bar annual meeting at Cypress Bayou Casino Hotel owners around the state were caught off guard in Charenton. During an awards ceremony, Evans by COVID-19’s impacts on their customer base, was poised to receive a Louey Award as Restau- supply chain and financial bottom lines. Safety rateur of the Year for his Lake Charles eatery measures taken by Louisiana’s government to prosuccess. This accolade was the culmination of tect the public while managing stress to hospital three decades of work for the inventive chef. infrastructure intensified the negative outcomes Evans, the unofficial father of Lake Charles experienced by the food and beverage industry. “cool” cuisine — a fusing of Cajun and Creole “I had a short-lived victory lap,” Evans said. culinary traditions with inspiration from Cali- “[The tourism award] was an awesome feat for fornia, the Gulf Coast and astronomy — was my family and restaurant staff. Shit. Then we feeling good about his kitchen and business had the rug ripped out from under us.” prowess. Medical officials on the state and national The timing of the association’s recognition level have had a simple message about COVID-19. was perfect. Evans had just pulled the proverbial In order for people to protect themselves and trigger on a new Luna Bar and Grill location in others: washing hands, wearing a face covering Lafayette’s downtown area. A marketing plan and social distancing are imperative. Restaurant

S U RV I VAL A MID U N CE RTAIN T Y

GRIT

BY ERIC CORMIER PHOTOS BY ROMERO & ROMERO


Star Power Prior to opening Luna Bar and Grill in Lake Charles, Chef Dave Evans had a satori. He conceived of the notion of selling sandwiches named after the planets. The Earth Burger, Venus, Neptune, Mercury, Saturn, Uranus, Mars and Jupiter are all fan favorites. Evans’ muse is in music and above the clouds.

G LO R Y


Crowd Ple aser

26 ACADIANA PROFILE OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020

COVID-19 weary? SHUCK’S! in Abbeville has a bread pudding that will make a customer beam the type of rays that will make daisies bloom. The restaurant’s menu says it best, “Sinfully good homemade bread pudding! Topped with hot white chocolate rum sauce. Real rum and plenty of it.”

and bar owners have tried to pivot away from pre-COVID-19 operations and habits during the pandemic. Some are adjusting and existing, while others are closing, filing for bankruptcy or filing lawsuits. Bloomberg reported in July that as a result of COVID-19 “As many as 231,000 of the nation’s roughly 660,000 eateries will likely shut down this year.” In August, Louisiana Network reported that the Louisiana Restaurant Association estimated one in four restaurants in Louisiana will close due to the economic impact of the pandemic. Essentially, COVID-19 has forced the state’s food and beverage industry, which already operates on slim profit margins, to figure out how to provide service daily, pay bills, ensure safety for employees and customers and contend with government regulations that some believe are

beneficial while others interpret as draconian. Gov. Edwards’ first proclamation in the spring limited gatherings to no more than 50 people, closed casinos, bars and movie theaters and forced restaurants to suspended dine-in options in favor of the use of drive-throughs and delivery. Evans complied with all of the state’s orders but eventually closed Luna’s Lake Charles restaurant temporarily after a number of staff members tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of attending off-premise social gatherings. He also delayed the opening of Luna in Lafayette. The Lake Charles restaurant’s profit margin was split in half due to controlled seating regulations inside Luna’s, but Evans admits, “we are blessed with the business we do have now. When I look at the books, we have fantastic Fridays and Saturdays and customers are normally buying food from the time we open.”


Almost two hours south and located on the Vermillion River in Abbeville, SHUCK’S! Restaurant has remained open throughout the pandemic. During the ordeal, owners David Bertrand and Bert Istre’s customer base has grown and they solidified a decision to move forward with the construction of a new restaurant in Lake Charles near the city’s retail, hotel, and casino complex near Interstate 210. Bertrand and Istre made two strategic operational decisions when the pandemic started. “First, we would not limit the menu at all,” Bertrand said. “We would serve the full menu but just cut back on the amount of food and ingredients we ordered. Our second major decision was to begin running specials and complimentary homemade bread pudding with hot white chocolate buttered rum.” The dessert is a SHUCK’S! fan favorite. SHUCK’S! customers have been able to access the restaurant’s drive-through and curbside service, along with outside eating options with an important amenity — live music. “Burt and I said since we have fine and loyal customers and good friends who are coming to support us during the pandemic, let’s have a musician play outside,” Bertrand said. “Our first performer brought in a ton of people and the parking lot was full.” Louisiana state troopers and representatives from the state fire marshall and the Abbeville fire chief have worked closely with Bertrand and Istre to mitigate safety issues during the pandemic. Bertrand and Istre utilized a recommendation from state officials to hire private security in order to assist customers to observe face covering mandates and social distancing guidelines. “They [state and municipal officials] assured us they had no desire to shut us down and it has worked out like a charm,” Bertrand said. About three years ago, hotel owner Ty Boudoin and his wife Sherdell Landry bought the Quarter Tavern in New Iberia. As with any venture, they knew some difficulties would follow, but COVID-19 and state government actions have created a maddening situation for them and other bar owners. “We are lucky. I have another business, but with my bar just sitting (it is closed), I’m losing $6,000 a month,” Boudoin said. “I just can’t turn the building off. I don’t want to have to pay on that money to get the business back on when this passes.” Boudoin said he is concerned about customers’ safety and that his business is designed to minimize the chance for the virus to spread. The

W E A R E LU C K Y. I H AV E A N OT H E R B U S I N E S S , B U T W I T H M Y BA R J U S T S I T T I N G ( I T I S C LOS E D ) , I ’ M LO S I N G $ 6 , 0 0 0 A M O N T H . T Y B O UDO I N, O W N E R Q UA RT E R TAV E RN I N N E W I B E RI A


W E D I D W H AT W E C O U L D TO K E E P E V E RYON E O N BOA R D. TH E F I R S T T WO W E E KS , S TA F F WO R K E D C L E A N I N G A N D PA I N T I N G T HE BA R A N D W E W E R E T H I N K I N G W E ’ D B E C LO S E D TWO O R T H R E E W E E KS . MAT TH EW TRAHA N, O W NER C IT Y BA R IN MAU R ICE

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building Quarter Tavern is housed inside naturally allows a majority of customers to sit outside and enjoy TVs and entertainment space which are positioned in the open air. Boudoin, like a lot of bar owners, is upset with the governor. Gov. Edwards provided the overall hospitality industry some relief in May by moving the state to phase one reopening following the stay-at-home order. Restaurants and bars with food permits were initially limited to 25 percent occupancy, upgraded sanitation criteria, and social distancing. Bars that did not have the food permit remained closed. At the start of June, the governor announced the state would move to phase two opening which allowed businesses to have 50 percent occupancy. Restaurants and bars and breweries with food permits would benefit from this policy. Meanwhile, bars and breweries without food permits could open with social distancing requirements and 25 percent occupancy. By midsummer, approximately 200 bars applied for and received food permits which allowed them to operate under the same guidelines as restaurants. Boudoin reels at the notion that the kitchen permit is the ultimate answer to many bar owners’ problems. “I have no room inside to build a kitchen. We have a cooking trailer and we give away food,” Boudoin explained. “If I had the room, I would have installed a kitchen when I started the business.” Whatever reprieve some bar owners felt (those who did not have food permits) ended on July 11 when Gov. Edwards ordered “bars in the state closed to on-premises consumption” due to increased COVID-19 cases. Bars could only operate with curbside take out or delivery services. The order stated that, “Since the start of the crisis, Louisiana has identified at least 36 outbreaks impacting 405 people, involving bars, which were actually closed under the Governor’s original stay-at-home order.” State officials concluded that they “believe going to bars is a higher public health risk than visiting other types of businesses because people are socializing and cannot wear masks when they drink. In addition, young people under the age of 30 make up the largest percentage of new COVID cases in Louisiana.” Boudoin — who concluded patrons would spend less purchasing alcoholic beverages at stores, along with the fact that Quarter Tavern has no drive-through — joined with 10 other Acadiana bar owners to immediately petition

ACADIANA PROFILE OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020


the federal court in Lafayette in the latter part of July for a temporary restraining order against the governor’s bar restrictions. Similar actions were taken by bar owners in Baton Rouge and Houma. In Maurice, fourth-generation owner Matthew Trahan has sympathy for all of the state’s hospitality and dining establishments suffering through the pandemic. He did not join the 11 bars seeking the injunction but supports their effort. “From day one, I knew this was not going to be good,” he said. “We closed down on March 16 at midnight. We did what we could to keep everyone on board. The first two weeks, staff worked cleaning and painting the bar and we were thinking we’d be closed two or three weeks.” Not serving customers is abnormal for City Bar as well as other drinking establishments. The longest period of time the bar has been closed in 93 years of operation is one week. Trahan is proud to proclaim the establishment doesn’t close, “not even for a hurricane.” Trahan argues that the majority of bar owners were following the state’s guidelines but ended up suffering anyway. “They have taken one type of business throughout the state, that is not the problem, and put the burden on us,” Trahan said. “And this time, we don’t have payroll protection and employees are drawing unemployment or looking for other jobs.” Arpeggios Lounge and Event Center’s website has a note on the home page. It states that “Out of an abundance of caution for our artists and our patrons given the current uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, we are suspending Jazz night ... until further notice.” Owners Thurman and Carmen Johnson are taking the business impacts in stride with a sense of calm. “Oh, it has been tough,” Thurman Johnson said. “We haven’t been able to book any events and people have been postponing things because of crowd restrictions. You just can’t have as many people as you want attending engagements. But my wife and I have been at this since 2016 and when you start a business you understand there will be times like these and that is why we had some reserves built.” In May, Arpeggios was going to be an important site for a large Zydeco event. Due to the pandemic, the event was altered. “I understand what we are doing and the reason we have restrictions. But overall, we will lose some businesses,” Johnson said.

A SAMPLING OF OPEN E ATERIES THROUGHOUT ACADIANA C’est Bon Restaurant Mermentau 337-824-5015

Neptunes Restaurant Elton 337-584-3264

Cafe Habana City Lafayette 337-267-3060

Cajun Way Family RestaurantBoudin King Crowley 337-788-2929

Coby’s Classic Cuisine Opelousas 337-678-0454

Bangkok Thai Restaurant Lafayette 337-989-2009

Steamboat Warehouse Restaurant Washington 337-826-7227

Market Eatz • Lafayette • 337-575-3289

Fezzo’s Seafood, Steakhouse and Oyster Bar Crowley 337-783-5515 Mama Reta’s Kitchen Lake Charles 337-656-2798 Mr. Bill’s Seafood Express Lake Charles 337-477-9746

COVID -19 NEEDS . NOT WANTS .

Milano Houma 985-879-2426 Fremins Thibodeaux 985-449-0333

Tony’s Pizza Lake Charles 337-477-1611

Rita Mae’s Kitchen Morgan City 985-384-3550

LeBleu’s Landing Sulphur 337-528-6900

Atchafalaya Cafe Morgan City 985-384-2707

Heaven On Earth Westlake 337-287-4860

Annie Mae’s on the Bayou Franklin 337-471-7016

Anchors Up Grill Cameron 337-775-5409

Victor’s Cafeteria New Iberia 337-369-9924

Fausto’s Family Restaurant Kinder 337-738-5676 Roy’s Catfish Hut Kinder 337-738-4243 Cajun Tales Seafood Restaurant Welsh 337-734-4772 Regatta Seafood and Steakhouse Lake Arthur 337-774-1504

The Yellow Bowl Jeanerette 377-276-5512 The St. John Restaurant St. Martinville 337-394-9994 Dupuy’s Seafood and Steak Abbeville 337-893-2336 Hebert’s Steakhouse and Seafood Kaplan 337-643-2933

Spoonbill Watering Hole and Restaurant Lafayette 337-534-0585 Cafe Josephine Sunset 337-662-0008 Uncle T’s Oyster Bar Scott 337-504-2285 Veronica’s Cafe - Cajun and Creole Restaurant Carencro 337-565-2301 Cafe Sydnie Mae Breaux Bridge 337-909-2377 Glenda’s Creole Kitchen Breaux Bridge 337-332-0294 Myran’s Maison De Manger Arnaudville 337-754-5064 D.I.’s Cajun Restaurant Basile 337-432-5141 Cafe de Lasalle Ville Platte 337-363-7891 Hot Tails Restaurant New Roads 225-638-4676

29 ACADIANA PROFILE OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020

If you adventure into any of the Acadiana region’s specialty meats stores, independent grocers or spirits sellers, a bottle of City Bar Bloody Mary mix should be available. For 90 plus years, the folks at City Bar in Maurice have perfected the art of Bloody Mary preparation. A bottle of their mixed base is a COVID-19 necessity. Vodka or gin. It will all make you sin with Cajun-inspired spices.

The Shack of Houma Houma 985-868-9996


30 ACADIANA PROFILE OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 30

AC ADIANA PROFILE OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020


MY WIFE AND I H AV E B E E N AT THIS SINCE 2016 A N D W H E N YO U S TA RT A BU S I N E S S YO U U N D E R S TA N D THERE WILL BE TIMES LIKE THESE A N D T H AT I S W H Y W E HA D S O M E R E S E RV E S B U I LT. THURMAN JOHN SON, CO-OWN ER ARPEGGIO S LOUN GE AN D E VEN T CENTER I N OPELOUSA S

LOUISIANA BAR OWNERS GOT A REPRIEVE FROM GOV. JOHN B EL EDWARDS ON SEPT. 11, 2020 ... SORT OF.

A few weeks later, a New Orleans federal judge heard a case filed by bar owners in Houma. The court ruled in favor of the governor’s restrictions again, stating, “The court is compelled to conclude that Governor Edwards’ ban of on-site consumption of food or drink at ‘bars’ bears a ‘real or substantial relation’ to the goal of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and is not ‘beyond all question’ a violation of the bar owners’ constitutional rights.” As of this article’s deadline, a federal judge in Lafayette had not issued a decision on the 11 Acadiana bar owners’ request for an injunction which would allow the business sector to reopen immediately. The service industry has always been precarious, and no one knows that better than the people who make and serve our drinks and dinner. They are a tough lot, accustomed to weathering every type of storm. The chefs, owners, staff and patrons continue to navigate the uncertainty of the crisis the way people of the region always have — with persistence, ingenuity and the indomitable spirit of Acadiana.

31 ACADIANA PROFILE OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020

Edwards announced the state would move to phase three opening. According to the Governor’s office, that means “For now, bars will remain closed to on-premises consumption in parishes with high incidence of COVID as evidenced by their test positivity rate, which is a continued recommendation of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, as cases among young people and in college towns continue to grow.”

Arpeggios is not the Johnsons only source of income. Carmen Johnson is a pediatrician and owns a medical office her husband also works in. Whether or not the courts side with the bars and other hospitality businesses that face restrictions, the Johnsons intend to adjust one day at a time. Some bar owners like Boudoin intend to fight “Every restaurant owner I know feels sorry for us. You can go to a casino and do what you want,” he said. “Oh, you can bet I will appeal [if the federal court rules against the 11 bar owners]. And businesses that don’t do what is right and follow the health guidelines while I’m fighting to keep my business, you can bet I will let officials know who are breaking the law.” To date, bar owners have been on the wrong side of court decisions. A Nineteenth Judicial District Court judge in Baton Rouge ruled against four Jefferson Parish business owners in early August, deciding the governor’s bar mandate is necessary to protect the public.


Rallying Point

The region pulls together in Lake Charles and the surrounding area in the wake of Hurricane Laura WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED B Y PAU L K I E U


LEFT Louisiana National Guardsmen load boxes of meals into a vehicle while distributing supplies at WashingtonMarion High School in Lake Charles. TOP, RIGHT Sam Jaffe, a volunteer with the Cajun Navy Foundation, cooks sausages for free lunches distributed at Tia Juanita’s in downtown Lake Charles. BOTTOM, RIGHT Volunteers with the Cajun Navy Foundation package free lunches to be distributed at Tia Juanita’s.

AC ADIANAPROFILE.COM 33


LEFT Natasha Curley of Second Harvest Food Bank hands hot meals to a patron in Lake Charles FACING PAGE, LEFT Rob Gaudet of the Cajun Navy Foundation speaks to Linda Dillard while performing a wellness check at Dillard’s home in Sulphur. Dillard’s home, like most area homes, has been without functional utilities in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.

W

eeks after the devastation of Hurricane Laura, volunteer groups have stepped up to help with the ongoing relief as the people of southwest Louisiana work to rebuild their homes and cities. Due to widespread infrastructure damage, groups like the United Way of Southwest Louisiana have been working endlessly to fill the needs of people who have been without power or clean water for several weeks. Even as most staff members struggle with damage to their own homes, UW-SWLA coordinated grocery and hot meal distribution events in collaboration with Second Harvest Food Bank, the Salvation Army and countless other aid groups. As they famously did following 2017’s Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the Cajun Navy Foundation and similar groups have been called to duty to assist those in need. Cajun Navy Foundation transformed local restaurant Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp into a temporary command center and sent their volunteer workers across the area to help with debris cleanups and supply distribution. CNF have also distributed tens of thousands of free meals to passersby. Volunteers gave up their own vacations and funds to help residents return to relative normalcy. Many locals have put aside their own recovery needs each day to lift their neighbors up through despair. While the rebuilding of southwest Louisiana will take many months and years, the foundations of the human spirit and cooperation remain strong through this disaster.

RIGHT Vehicles pass through a free lunch event held by the Cajun Navy Foundation at Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp. TOP, RIGHT Volunteers with the Cajun Navy Foundation prepare meals to be distributed in downtown Lake Charles.


L ETTR ES D’AMO U R Penned by a different author in every issue

Of Talent and Timing

lings prepared mirlitons, maque choux and meringues for Uncle Robert’s feast. Enlisting little helpers for his 12-hour turkey and rice dressing, he regaled us with A medley of holiday memories shapes a sixthtales of our ancestors, Acadiana’s earliest setgeneration child of Acadiana tlers, who arrived from Quebec, Nova Scotia and Normandy from 1765 to 1780. They by Lisa LeBlanc-Berry illustration by Christina Brown braved fires, established towns and erected churches including Abbeville’s St. Mary Magdalen, a neo-Gothic landmark built in 1911 by a beloved uncle, a literary priest from Quebec. Father LaForest donated the massive church just for fun. He was a slightly-mad-but-cuddly If someone asked what my last meal bells that still ring out at noon. genius who loved an inside joke. on earth would be, I’d choose Uncle Robert’s These days, when I’m cooking wild duck Several years later, as a teenage classical piaelaborate, multi-course Thanksgiving feast gumbo during a cold front, I think of Uncle nist performing Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit for enlivened by his piano renditions of Broadway Robert’s stories, and how his extraordinary musicals. The darling of the Hebert family, a competition, I heard an unmistakable whistle talents became tiles in the mosaic from the audience. Beaming “Rabbit” cooked like Joël Robuchon with of my identity. Following his avocongratulations after the concert, the comedic verve of Will Ferrell. “Pass the cational trajectory, I performed Uncle Robert asked if I’d teach authority” (a code for brandy) resounded Lisa LeBlanc-Berry with philharmonic orchestras, him how to read music. Naturally, at grandma’s long, lavish dinner table as he is an award-winning I thought he was joking. But my independent journalist, studied cooking in Paris and flamed the plum pudding amid applause traveled the world. But I never hero couldn’t read a single note! and laughter; our tribe of 27 little Abbeville author and concert pianist with homes found a taste adventure that He was a virtuoso pianist playing cousins enjoying pralines and crème brûlée in New Orleans and rivaled those golden Thanksentirely by ear. tarts on the big screen porch. Abbeville. Prior to her A child of Acadiana, I learned 10 years as a restaurant giving afternoons in Abbeville. In one of my earliest Thanksgiving memoFor the first time in our famto believe in the curative powers critic, 15 years as a food ries, Uncle Robert taught me my very first of music, food and family. On editor and 7 years as an ily’s history, we won’t be celepiano melody, “The Sheik of Araby,” on his interior design editor brating the holidays together this chilly November mornings, when Model B “golden age” Steinway, which I later she spent 4 years with year, courtesy of the pandemic. brisk winds blew across Bayou inherited. the symphony, earned My tiny hands would stretch out to reach Vermilion and ducks were flying degrees in music and a Instead, I sit at the Steinway the keys and Uncle Robert — balding, pleas- low in the marsh, the cotton- Grand Diplôme from Le playing Broadway musicals, candy aroma of the Steen’s syrup Cordon Bleu, Paris. Her and wonder if Uncle Robert is antly plump and smelling of butter — would daily obsessions include dive into lightning-fast runs and arpeggios, mill spread throughout Abbeville, jazz piano and dancing tilting his halo, and nodding in stopping to point out the note I should tap, as my mother and her nine sib- to music by Post Malone. approval. n 36

AC ADIANA PROFILE OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020


AC ADIANAPROFILE.COM 37


PLUS Ç A C HA NGE

Musical Magic Jourdan Thibodeaux and Cedric Watson join forces by David Cheramie photo by Romero & Romero

Festivals Acadiens et Créoles is usually

the highlight of the region’s fall festival season. As both temperatures and the likelihood of hurricanes drop, lovers of Cajun and creole music flock from around the world to Girard Park in Lafayette. Things will be different this year due to the threat posed by the seemingly implacable coronavirus. As we prepare for another virtual festival in the vein of what Festival International pioneered with success, we are taking time to think back to some of its most memorable performances. Every year, there seems to be at least one “magical

38

AC ADIANA PROFILE OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020

moment” as Barry Jean Ancelet calls them. One such moment for me was the first time I saw Jourdan Thibodeaux on the main stage. After picking up my jaw from the dusty dance floor, the words of famed music critic Jon Landau immediately came to mind. To paraphrase, “I have seen the future of Cajun music and its name is Jourdan Thibodeaux.” Like Springsteen, he has dug deep into the rich vernacular of the Cajun repertoire and injected it with a raw energy that only a live performance can convey. At times he seemed to be in a trance, channeling not only the spirits of Dewey Balfa, Amédé Ardoin and Dennis McGee, but also Elvis, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis. An old soul in a young man’s body. Even his French, learned from his grandmother, attests to a sensibility from another century. Self-taught on the fiddle, he learned from watching and listening to Mr. Louis Foreman playing on his front porch. To call him old school is an understatement. I first saw Cedric Watson in the CODOFIL office many years ago. Out of nowhere, this tall, lanky teenager came striding in the building with a confidence that belied his age. When

he opened his mouth, his French reminded me of recordings I had heard of 80-year-old sharecroppers. I expected him to say he grew up somewhere in rural St. Landry parish. “No,” he said. “My family’s from here, but I grew up San Felipe, Texas.” I was stunned standing before a bona fide Texien Créole; all I could think about was how much I would give if we could produce hundreds of more like him in Louisiana. That was before I ever heard him play music. In the years since, his exploration of the connections between Louisiana creole music and other Afro-Caribbean rhythms has greatly enriched the cultural landscape. Filmed during another fall festival, there is a video on online of him and Haitian-American artist Leyla McCalla singing “Pa Janvier” that certainly qualifies as a “magical moment.” It was only natural that Jourdan and Cedric would eventually join forces. Their collaboration is a testament to the communality of our culture across the artificiality of the racial divide. When we can go to live concerts again, theirs will be one of the first I want to see; whether you know it or not, so do you. It promises to be magical. n


AC ADIANAPROFILE.COM 39


E N FRA NÇ A I S, S ’I L VOUS P L A ÎT

La Canne à Sucre Une histoire aigre-douce par David Cheramie illustration par Jane Sanders

E n A c a d i a n a , l ’a u t o m n e a p p o r t e

sa promesse de douceur après la chaleur et l’humidité estivales si épaisses qu’on a l’impression de plonger dans un sauna en franchissant le seuil de la porte. Enfin, le vent du nord dessèche et balaie le ciel, laissant un fond bleu clair avec quelques nuages ébouriffés. Avec la nouvelle inclinaison de la terre, la lumière arrive à un nouvel angle et crée une « heure dorée » qui s’éternise. Les couleurs et les sensations revigorantes s’accompagnent d’une odeur incomparable ailleurs aux ÉtatsUnis. Quand c’est le temps de la roulaison, signalée par l’interminable défilé de camions chargés de canne à sucre fraîchement coupée

40

AC ADIANA PROFILE OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020

par d’énormes engins, l’arôme du débris qui le commerce de « l’or blanc ». Sa production à brûle dans les champs récoltés flotte dans l’air. Saint-Domingue rapportait tellement d’argent Bien que désagréable pour certains, c’est, de à la France qu’elle était prête à lâcher de vastes mon avis, la senteur même de la Louisiane. territoires nord-américains afin de garder ses La culture de la canne à sucre est tellement îles caribéennes sucrières. Elle représentait à ancienne que les premiers textes la décrivant peu près la moitié de la production mondiale, sont écrits en sanskrit. Avant d’arriver en Inde récoltée par des mains sans liberté. On ne peut du nord, on la faisait pousser premièrement pas parler de l’histoire de la canne à sucre sans en deux endroits différents : dans l’archipel invoquer la cruauté de l’esclavage. La douceur de la Nouvelle-Guinée et dans la péninsule du sucre est mise en perspective par l’amer du sud-est asiatique qu’on appelait autrefois héritage de la servitude forcée de millions l’Indochine. De là, elle s’est répandue à travers d’Africains aux Amériques. Une souffrance les îles du Pacifique. On pense qu’elle a con- sans pitié subie par les Noirs au nom d’un tribué à l’expansion des peuples austronésiens à délice en granulé blanc. travers cette zone, jusqu’en Hawaï. Fait intéresÀ présent, l’industrie du sucre, avec ses sant : la canne à sucre appartient à la famille machines récolteuses qui ont remplacé la de l’herbe. machette depuis longtemps, rapporte entre Arrivée chez nous en 1765 par les deux et trois milliards de dollars à pères jésuites qui la cultivaient pour l’économie chaque année. Sur 400,000 leur propre consommation, la canne For an english acres dans 22 paroisses, à peu près 13 à sucre n’a pas pris une place impormillions de tonnes de sucre brut est translation tante dans l’économie avant l’invention visit acadiana- produit dans onze usines, employant profile.com du processus de granulation par quelques 17,000 personnes. Étienne de Boré. D’abord cultivateur Les champs de canne à sucre à de l’indigo, de Boré s’est ensuite intéressé à perte de vue. L’odeur piquante de la fumée. la canne à sucre avec l’arrivée des planteurs La vapeur blanche des moulins à sucre le long fuyant la révolution haïtienne. Ce sont ces de la route 90 s’ondulant dans un ciel bleu. Ce planteurs-là qui ont importé le savoir-faire, et sont les éléments d’un tableau vivant de la la main-d’œuvre asservie, et qui ont développé Louisiane du sud en automne.n


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Profile for Renaissance Publishing

Acadiana Profile October-November 2020  

Acadiana Profile October-November 2020  

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