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Top Hospitals: Highest ranking hospitals in Louisiana


CUL I NARY HERITA GE july/august 2017

Chef Melissa Martin’s Classic Cajun Stuffed Crabs

HOME: A New Orleans Lakefront midcentury modern gem is returned to its former glory P. 20


july/august VOLUME 37 NUMBER 6 4


From The Editor

A Night at the Old Mansion 6

Photo Contest

Shine A Light On Me: An American Saddle Bred horse from David McCoy Stables in Lake Charles is illuminated by natural light.

44 traveler

Historically Passionate: A Creole dynasty where slaves have names 48 farther flung

Alabama Coasting: Beaches, Gulf seafood, wildlife and history abound in sweet home Alabama 50


roadside dining

along the way

Ardent Spirits: Tippling, scribbling and road tripping through the South

LA Guns: Pops & Rockets takes its sticky, sweet, ‘80s inspired treats on tour throughout Acadiana



state of louisiana

great louisiana chef

Pelican Briefs: Dogs, drinks, fests, fun and a call to artists

From the Soul: Shreveport Chef Eleazar Mondragon adds a heavy dose of love to dishes at Ki’ Mexico

11 health


Happy (Healthy) Trails: The five best hike and bike trails in Louisiana

kitchen gourmet

Summer Favorites: Make an easy meal out of soft-shell crab with ice cream for dessert

12 Literary Louisiana

A Mother’s Love: Southern fiction about a mother with secrets and a daughter with a ruthless will to find answers

62 calendar

July and August: Events and festivals around the state

14 Made In Louisiana

Savoir Fair: Ruston woodworker Joshua Mitchell works to bring together creatives as well as the larger community 16 artist

26 culinary heritage

39 top hospitals

Louisiana’s rich food traditions and its masters, keepers and champions

Medicade’s highest ranking hospitals around the state

By jyl benson photographs by denny culbert

Michel Varisco: Photographing the shifting and fragile Louisiana landscape

64 a louisiana life

Tribal Legacy: Marksville native works to keep TunicaBiloxi tribe’s language and traditions alive

compiled by Sarah ravits

20 home

Lakefront Legacy: Maury Strong and Ron Caron revive a midcentury modern home designed by Curtis & Davis

2 Louisiana Life July/august 2017


Sometimes, a dish is so attractive at every stage of creation, it’s impossible not to snap it throughout its transformation. Chef Melissa Martin’s Classic Cajun Stuffed Crabs are such a dish. You

can see the “during” and “after” images on page 35 and 36 in our “Culinary Heritage,” feature, but for the cover, we couldn’t help but share photographer Denny Culbert’s moody

and enticing photo of the stuffed crab shells prior to pan-frying. Those bits of shrimp and white lumb crab meat and scallions peeking out from the shells is a temptation we’re unable to resist.

AWARdS EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Errol Laborde MANAGING Editor Melanie Warner Spencer Associate editor Ashley McLellan copy EDITOR Amanda Orr web Editor Kelly Massicot travel EDITOR Paul F. Stahls Jr. FOOD EDITOR Stanley Dry HOME EDITOR Lee Cutrone art Art Director Sarah George lead photographer Danley Romero sales vice president of sales Colleen Monaghan (504) 830-7215 marketing DIRECTOR OF MARKETING & EVENTS Cheryl Lemoine event coordinator Whitney Weathers digital media associate Mallary Matherne

IRMA 2016

Silver Art Direction of a Single Story Sarah George Bronze Column Melissa Bienvenue Bronze Food Feature Award of Merit Reader Service Article 2012

Gold Companion Website 2011

Silver Overall Art Direction Tiffani Reding Amedeo

For event information call (504) 830-7264 Production production manager Jessica DeBold production designers Monique Di Pietro,

Demi Schaffer, Molly Tullier traffic coordinator Terra Durio Administration Chief Executive Officer Todd Matherne President Alan Campell Executive Vice President Errol Laborde office manager Mallary Matherne Distribution Manager John Holzer Subscription manager Brittanie Bryant

For subscriptions call (504) 830-7231

Press Club of New Orleans 2016

Lifetime Achievement Award Errol Laborde 1st Place Best Magazine 1st Place Layout/Design Sarah George 2nd Place Best Magazine 2nd Place Layout/Design Sarah George 2nd Place Best Portrait Danley Romero

110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123 Metairie, LA 70005 (504) 828-1380 • Louisiana Life (ISSN 1042-9980) is published bimonthly by Renaissance Publishing, LLC, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005; (504) 828-1380. Subscription rate: One year $10; Mexico and Canada $48. Periodicals postage paid at Metairie, LA, and additional mailing entry offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Louisiana Life, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005. Copyright 2017 Louisiana Life. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of the publisher. The trademark Louisiana Life is registered. Louisiana Life is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos and artwork, even if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. The opinions expressed in Louisiana Life are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine or owner.

2nd Place Governmental/ Political Writing Jeremy Alford 3rd Place Column Melissa Bienvenu 3rd Place Medical/Health Writing Amanda Wicks




It is often said of old historic

buildings, “If these walls could talk...” In the case of the building commonly known as The Old Governor’s Mansion, much of that talk might have been in whispers as power wielders from Huey Long to Jimmie Davis negotiated the state’s future, perhaps over biscuits on the veranda. On the evening of June 27, 1930 legislators attended the opening reception of the stucco mansion Long had built. No doubt, many lawmakers thought the building might be a good place for them to live one day. It was the second gubernatorial home; the first was a frame house that had originally been built for a local businessman. As the governor’s residence it lasted from 1887 to 1929. Long’s mansion was located down the street from the building commonly known as the “old state capitol.” That to, did not satisfy Long’s longing for grandeur. He also started the construction of the rocket ship-like state capitol where his life, by then he was a U.S. Senator, would end in 1935 with the echo of gunfire. The so-called “new” Governor’s mansion that Davis built in 1961 is nearby and is

4 Louisiana Life July/august 2017

much bigger than the previous mansions. Like laws and budgets, mansions and capitols are ever-expanding. At the microphone in the old governor’s mansion this past April 12 was the new governor, John Bel Edwards. He was there to participate in a party hosted by Louisiana Life to celebrate Baton Rouge’s Bicentennial. Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser was also there as was Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and a gathering of contemporary lawmakers and guests. Nowadays the building is used as a reception hall. There are few big decisions being made on the veranda unless it is between having wine or champagne. Nevertheless, that evening Edwards did play an important non-legislative chief executive role, that of cheerleader. Baton Rouge had a tough year in 2016. Edwards’ remarks were at first solemn as he mentioned the tragic killings and then the rage of high waters, but he also expressed the confidence that the city would rebound and have bright days ahead. Both Broome and Nungesser expressed similar themes, but Edwards’ remarks made the optimism seem official. Legislators looked on knowing that many battles were ahead between them and the governor. For the moment though the old mansion was working its charm. The hors d’oeuvres were hot; the wine was chilled; and the flower of an adjacent magnolia tree opened to the veranda. The house had come to order.


Shine A Light On Me An American Saddlebred Horse from David McCoy Stables in Lake Charles is illuminated by natural light. Photo by Timothy

Lake Charles


Submit your photos by visiting

6 Louisiana Life july/august July/august 2017

along the way

Ardent Sprits Tippling, scribbling and road tripping through the South written and photographed by

Melanie Warner Spencer

Southerners, especially Southern

writers, are passionate about many things including, but not limited to, telling stories, food, football and hooch — and telling stories about food, football and hooch. Some of our most celebrated writers were zealous lushes, using their favorite spirits as fuel, muse and subject matter. For example, consider the life and work of William Faulkner, Hunter S. Thompson, O. Henry, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote — wait, maybe that’s not the best list, given each one of these writers had a certain degree of — shall we say, issues — surrounding their drinking habits. That said, not only did each of them practice the art of consuming aqua vitae (a little too much), but also at one time or another ginned and juiced in Louisiana — specifically, New Orleans. Now, I don’t have any basis in fact for the following assertion, but it seems to me one could build the case that drinking in Louisiana — specifically, New Orleans —

8 Louisiana Life July/august 2017

makes you a better writer. I’ve only lived here a little over three years, but my own prose has improved exponentially. Or, I’m too sauced to know one way or another, but we don’t have to figure that out right now. Let’s take our time and drink about it. Where was I? Oh, inebriated Southerners, yes. There are a lot of us and we can be found tippling in watering holes, on porches and even on the streets in some cities — specifically, New Orleans. I would say also in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle, but the Louisiana State Legislature closed that loophole in 2004. Now don’t you worry, you can still have your drive-through daiquiri and drink it too, but just don’t put that straw in it until you get home, ya hear? Ernest Hemingway, who advised, “Write drunk; edit sober,” was not a Southerner, but he loved daiquiris and also spent some time drinking in Louisiana — specifically New Orleans. Were Papa alive today, he likely would have relished the days-long festival dedicated to drink, Tales of the Cocktail. It kicks off in New Orleans

on July 18 and draws hospitality industry professionals and intoxicant aficionados from all over the world. It’s a lot like the South by Southwest Music Festival held in Austin, Texas each year, but for liquor. Actually, it’s just like SXSW, without the music part getting in the way of the drinking. My husband Mark and I, frequent imbibers, were both born and raised in Kentucky, which means we are partial to bourbon. It also means we have consumed drinks during interstate moves or while on road trips (not while driving, of course) at bars in every state and commonwealth between the Bluegrass and the Pelican State. As well as in Texas, Arkansas, Georgia and Florida, leaving eight Southern states to go, but we’ll settle for conquering those we have left in the Southeastern Conference. Once on a road trip to Shreveport I had a mighty terrible cold and laryngitis. Let me tell you, there is no care and comfort greater than a hot toddy delivered by a compassionate bartender or server when you are traveling in a strange city. As much as I love having a drink at Sloppy’s Downtown in Lake Charles; Flying Heart Brewing in Bossier City; and The Chimes in Baton Rouge, to name a few, one of our favorite places to knock back some cold ones — apart from our own porch — is the Erin Rose in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Our first experience there was meeting up with a lawyer friend during a visit to the city before we moved from Texas. I’m not one to do shots, but I can’t resist an Irish Car Bomb (a half ounce of Jameson Irish Whiskey and a half ounce of Baileys Irish cream dropped into a half glass of Guinness), which tastes like chocolate milk. We had a couple there with our friend. He’s now a seminarian living and studying in Rome and we eventually moved to New Orleans. While I can’t say for sure that he turned to the priesthood because of the events of that night at the Erin Rose, there is no doubt in my mind that it contributed to our undeniable desire to move to Louisiana — specifically, New Orleans. n



party like a vip

pelican briefs

Bossier City, Shreveport A new luxury transportation service makes its debut in Bossier City on the evening of Paul McCartney’s July 15 concert at CenturyLink Center featuring the former Beatle’s 50-year retrospective amplified by lasers and fireworks. The new iShuttle VIP Champagne Experience is a five-hour luxury charter service that picks you up at your home for the McCartney extravaganza and for CenturyLink Center concerts going forward (this includes any locations in Caddo and Bossier Parish), providing champagne and gourmet snacks to and from the concerts, plus Wi-Fi, video screens and Bluetooth connection to the high-voltage sound system aboard. Tours are led by expert guides (318-872-2152 for information).

Dogs, drinks, fests, fun and a call to artists New Orleans


Be a Bartender with Style

Lisa LeBlanc-Berry

Tales of the Cocktail debuts its first Bar InDepth seminar series at the 15th annual event held July 18-23, profiling some of the world’s best bars in 90-minutes sessions. More than 200 seminars are held during this year’s festival.

North Louisiana

Soul in a Bowl

Pass the Popcorn


Hot Diggity Dog! Dat Dog opens its first Lafayette restaurant at 201 Jefferson St. in August with an interior space dedicated to local artists and plans for live music in the rear of the restaurant, plus a Cajun country-inspired mural is in the works on the building’s exterior. Louisiana Life asked Bill DiPaola, President and COO of Dat Dog Enterprises, why he selected Acadiana for their first expansion outside the New Orleans market. “There is something unique about the people in Lafayette that is both intimidating and inspiring,” he says. “The food is incredible, and we want to work very hard to live up to that kind of quality. We feel very strongly that the people in Lafayette share the values of family, food and music that we hold dear here in New Orleans, and we hope to add another layer to that fabric that is Acadiana.” The next Dat Dog location is slated for Baton Rouge in late 2017-early 2018.

Natchitoches, Delcambre, Morgan City, Lake Charles

Of Fiddles, Food and Fun

The July 14-15 Natchitoches NSU Folk Festival features a fiddle championship and workshops, Cajun dance lessons, food demos and local crafts so grab your fiddle and head

10 Louisiana Life July/august 2017

out. Shrimp lovers descend on the tiny town of Delcambre for the 67th annual Delcambre Shrimp Festival Aug. 16-20, highlighted by a footstomping fais do-do for all ages and the blessing of the fleet

The Louisiana-shot “Girl’s Trip,” which hits theatres July 21 depicts four lifelong friends (Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish) traveling to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival. Also shot in Louisiana is Sofia Coppola’s Civil War horror-drama “The Beguiled” that opened June 23 (filmed primarily at Madewood Plantation in Napoleonville) and made a splash at the recent Cannes Film Festival. Coppola was named best director and Nicole Kidman won a special award heralding the festival’s 70th anniversary.

plus enough shrimp creations to make even Bubba Gump blush. Morgan City’s Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival Aug. 31Sept. 4 features live music, a children’s area, a car show,

Designed to explore the local food and cocktail scene, Chef Hardette Harris introduces her Pure Louisiana Soul interactive culinary experience featuring cooking demos with guest chefs at various locations; transportation is provided in a private shuttle. “Straight from the red dirt and fresh waters of North Louisiana, we offer you our soul in a bowl,” says the chef (known for creating the popular year-old Us Up North series). “You can get two chefs for the price of one.”

Baton Rouge

A Call to Artists Court 13 Arts presents its Inaugural Residency Program beginning September 24. It is designed to provide artists at all stages of their careers with an opportunity to create contextual work and interact with the New Orleans artistic community. Selected artists will be awarded a two-month residency stay culminating with a final exhibition November 17-19.

fireworks and shrimp galore. The Lake Charles Cajun Food & Music Festival July 14-15 offers gumbo and jambalaya among the many dishes, plus Cajun waltz and two-step contests. The Arts

and Crabs Fest in Lake Charles on Aug. 19 brings together regional roots music with local craft beers and crab dishes (tip: must be at least age 21 to enter).

photo courtesy dat dog


Happy (Healthy) Trails The five best hike and bike trails in Louisiana by Fritz


A walk or

a bike ride through nature is great exercise and good for the soul. For solitary types, it can provide needed time to recharge the mental batteries and for friends or sweethearts, it can be an excellent way to keep fit while spending time with loved ones and friends. Here are five of Louisiana’s best hike and bike trails.

1 2 Tunica Hills

A short distance northwest of St. Francisville is Tunica Hills. Most people don’t associate Louisiana with hills, bluffs, and ravines, but if you’re looking to escape the flatlands for some lovely views and a pristine hardwood forest, Tunica Hills is worth a look. wma/2752

Comite River Park

Do you think you’re up for a challenge? The Comite River Park in Baton Rouge skirts the banks of the Comite River and Cypress Bayou. New Orleanian Caleb Izdepski describes the trail as a “rollercoaster” with some steep climbs and drops. Make sure you have a mountain or cross bike if you want to attempt this one, though.

3 4 5 Tammany Trace

Formerly a corridor for the Illinois Central Railroad, the Tammany Trace provides a flat, easy trail for hikers and bikers from downtown Covington through Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe and Slidell. There’s even a parallel equestrian path for horseback riders. Bikes can be rented at the start of the trail. As an added bonus, it provides easy access to the Old Rail Brewing Co., in Mandeville and the Covington Brewhouse and Abita Brewery in Covington if you want to take a break for some adult beverages.

Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge

This little paradise in St. Francisville has exceptional trails for hiking and viewing deer and numerous birds. When the refuge floods, canoeing and kayaking options are available for touring the cypress-tupelo swamps. However, you must bring your own canoe/kayak, as they are not available for rent. refuge. Cat_Island

Chicot State Park

Louisiana’s largest state park is in Ville Platte in South Central Louisiana. There’s water and rolling hills to be enjoyed, but the hills do make the hiking and biking a bit more challenging. New Orleanian Lyle Castro enjoys the trail because it takes visitors through a wide variety of Louisiana forests — pine, deciduous, marsh, and cypress swamp.



A Mother’s Love Southern fiction about a Louisiana woman with secrets and her daughter’s ruthless will to find answers by

Amanda Orr

Willow Havens is the

10-year old daughter of Polly, a woman who fell pregnant for the last time in her late 50s just before the death of her husband. Despite her advanced maternal age, Polly isn’t a worn out mother just trying to raise her daughter to independence — she’s a petulant, margarita-swilling Walgreens employee who will take on anyone that questions the veracity of her daughter’s larger-than-life storytelling. In one of the first scenes in “The Book of Polly,” Polly (age 68 at the time) procures a hunting falcon to perch on her shoulder as she attends a meeting with Willow’s elementary school counselor. The purpose of that particular spectacle is to protect Willow’s reputation as an honest girl.

Dogs in Repose

12 Louisiana Life july/august July/august 2017

It’s against this backdrop that the reader learns Willow has a desperate need to uncover the secrets of her mother’s life as a young woman in Bethel, Louisiana. The book is at once hilarious and deeply emotional with the most apt literary comparisons being “Terms of Endearment” and “Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt.” This is Kathy

Hepinstall’s seventh novel and she took time to answer a few questions about this wildly popular book for Louisiana Life readers. Q: Why focus on the secrets mothers keep from their children? Do you think children have a right to know the secrets of their mother’s heart? A: I’m just fascinated by

secrets. I don’t think children have a right to know all their mother’s secrets, but it’s natural for them to try to investigate. Polly is a mysterious woman and Willow seems naturally born to spying and subterfuge. Willow already is sensing her limitations — she can’t keep her mother from growing old or getting sick — so this desire to uncover information might be some kind of seeking of the powers that we, as adults, know we don’t possess. Or, Willow is just a snoop.   Q: The matter of Christian faith comes up quite a bit in this book. You illustrated the tension between different “brands” of Christianity so well. Do you think this is an issue that is isolated to the South? A: No, I think that each Christian has their own version of Christianity, and it can make for a lot of contrast between family members. I have a cousin, self-styled preacher, that tried to raise a dead man. He’d been dead five days, and already embalmed.    Q: What inspired you to write about a woman who had a latein-life, surprise child? That’s a very specific character sketch.   A: Looking back, I think it’s because I wanted to write a character based on my mother, Polly, who is an elderly woman. So any child of hers would have

Louisiana Life’s own photographer, Sara Essex’s, released a new book “Dog Décor: Canines Living Large.”

things more calming than curling up with a mug of tea and flipping through the pages of this book.

“Dog Décor: Canines Living Large” By Sara Essex Bradley Glitterati Incorporated, $35

Within the 84 full-color images, you’ll meet well-loved pooches against the scenery of their owners’ impeccably designed homes. There are few

Each spread features the family dog’s backstory as well as detailed descriptions of the lush spaces in which they reside.

From Dog Décor: Canines Living Large by Sara Essex Bradley copyright © 2017, published by Glitterati Incorporated

For fans of S-town and Serial to have come about from a late-life birth. Once the character Polly was created, though, I found the delightful side effects — the fact that she, a cantankerous, oldfashioned Southern gardener of a certain age, existed in a neighborhood filled with young moms driving hybrids and going to spin class. Mothers with a distinctly different attitude about childraising and life in general. I think the contrast really adds to the story. Q: The word “perfect” comes up frequently in the book. But these characters are so imperfect — lying, murder, etc. Can you talk about what perfection means to you in relation to these characters and your readers who relate to these characters?   A: People are continually disappointed by life and disappointed by their role in it. The character of Phoenix, though, seemed to feel that life was always up to snuff, at every single moment. His phrase of ‘perfectly perfect’ is actually something that the real Phoenix (my friend Dallas) says from time to time. I love the addition of the word ‘perfectly,’ as though the word ‘perfect’ needs a little boost. Things will only get ‘perfectly perfect’ for Willow when she accepts life on its own terms, and her place in it. As a writer, I love the imperfections of characters. Those tiny moments when they lose their patience, fail to fix a boat, love too hard or throw up a Snickers bar on a kitchen floor. n

“The Book of Polly”

By Kathy Hepinstall Pamela Dorman Books, $26

Part true-crime story, part memoir, this book follows the journey of the author — a Harvard Law grad staunchly opposed to the death penalty — as she finds herself in her first summer internship at a New Orleans law firm working on the retrial of a death-row convicted murderer. Not only does she want Ricky Langley to die, but she begins to understand how her own past colors her view of the crime. With that, she explores how everyone involved in the retrial, from judge to jury foreman to Ricky’s own mother, views the crime through the lens of their own experience. “The Fact of a Body” By Alexandria MarzanoLesnevich Flatiron Books, $26.99

In a rut?

Therapy is expensive, but a relevant distraction in the form of a book can do just as much to get you over an emotional hurdle according to the authors of “The Novel Cure.” The charming 400-page index includes an alphabetical list of ailments including everything from abandonment to fear of dinner parties to feeling trapped by children to PMS to zestlessness and everything in between. Under each heading is a prescription for bibliotherapy (books to read) as well as the reasoning behind each suggestion. “The Novel Cure” By Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin Penguin, $17



Savoir ‘Fair’ Ruston woodworker Joshua Mitchell works to bring together creatives as well as the larger community By Jeffrey portrait By

14 Louisiana Life July/august 2017

Roedel Romero & Romero

A rockslide of crawfish

crumbling out onto awaiting trays meets passersby as the crowds seek out the Railroad Festival, downtown Ruston’s latest community of creative revelry. The festival is a lively celebration of the creativity and culture of north Louisiana. Nestled in the heart of downtown Ruston, the event attracted a handful of Louisiana bands, food trucks and vendors, and more than one hundred makers from around Louisiana and the region. On the other side of the food trucks and a sloping lawn, the Seratones warm up in big brassy top notes. Behind shades and a standard-issue event badge, festival founder Joshua Mitchell greets two friends with big bear hugs. From a narrow slip of an alley next to Pontchatoulas restaurant and its outboard crawfish-boiling brigade, this 30-year-old artist gives his friends the scoop on the event, and there’s plenty to dish. More than 100 makers’ tents shotgun a strip of land between a retail-dominated row of development and the former lanes of the Rock Island Line, forming the backbone of this brand new event that, on this hot April day, seems to have drawn hundreds of folk from all across north Louisiana and beyond. This first-year festival is the brainchild of Mitchell, himself a woodworker and designer, whose work as an event organizer was born out of a desire to explore the space between creator and consumer. “The term maker already has such a general, sometimes misunderstood definition, and I really wanted to explore what it meant to creatives and the general public of the area,” Mitchell says. “This is so important, because when you pick up something from an event like this, you feel like you’re going home with a piece of that artist, and after meeting


them you can connect with the piece on a more personal level.” A few years ago, Mitchell saw a need in Ruston for a more collective culture that can connect buyers directly with the regional creatives who make their favorite things. He first founded Ruston Makers Fair. Now, Railroad Fest is the same idea plugged into a higher wattage amplifier. But Mitchell’s events are less an addition to, and more of a reflection of the city he’s grown to appreciate more and more. “Ruston is the definition of a small town with big dreams,” says Mitchell, who was born in Darmstadt, Germany, and spent much of his youth in Maryland. “And through the process of creating this festival I’ve gotten a glimpse of how we can make progress. I’ve worked closely with the city and city organizations throughout, and I’ve really been blown away by their work ethic and open mindedness.” Mitchell was a curious child, he says, always tinkering with things, modifying toys and tools and pieces of artwork.

What do you do when you’re not working in your studio or planning your next event? These days if I’m not working I’m exploring. Kayaking is one of my favorite things to do to pass the time. Ruston has great spots to do that and to venture out, for sure. The bayous of Monroe are beautiful and made for adventure, too. I really enjoy being on the water. Other than that I’m probably just getting out and trekking somewhere. I try to get up to Arkansas and a couple other places to camp and explore when I can. I’m a pretty outdoorsy guy.

“I just didn’t like things to be normal,” he says. “They had to be added to or fixed in some way.” That desire for change and disdain for malaise often led him to travel outside of his new hometown of Ruston. “There was just never anything to do here,” Mitchell recalls. “And that’s probably the biggest reason why I’ve chosen now to build things, to do something here rather than constantly scurry away.” Mitchell studied architecture at Louisiana Tech for a couple of years but left to start his own firm making custom furniture, called Jodami Design. As makers meet one another and each passionately

shares their story with patrons who walk into these booths as strangers and walk out as friends, Mitchell’s Railroad Festival bares the handprints of a designer — the unmistakable mark of intentionality and purpose pervades these communal festival grounds. “What happens with makers’ fairs is that the public gets genuinely excited about supporting local artists and businesses and in turn, those makers get excited about participating in a local event,” he says. “It all goes hand in hand. The city of Ruston as a whole is a prime example of this notion, and it’s exciting to see.” n

Who has inspired you the most along the way? People that have inspired me along the way would be any maker or artist who is making things happen. It inspires me even further when their passion is their main gig. It’s tough to muster up the courage to take that leap and when I see artists working hard and doing well, it inspires me. Do you ever get back to Germany or have distinct memories of it? I wasn’t in Germany long enough to have any strong memories and unfortunately have not been back yet. We bounced around to a couple of places on the East Coast, but when I think back on growing up, I miss Maryland the most. I guess you could say those were some of my wonder years where I was formulating opinions about life and all the things around me.



Michel Varisco Photographing the shifting and fragile Louisiana landscape By John R. Kemp

South Louisiana’s swamps and

coastal wetlands have lured generations of artists who have sought to capture their natural beauty on film and canvas. Photographer Michel Varisco is drawn to those same landscapes not simply to document their splendor, but to explore the balance and harmony in nature as it encounters the man-made world. “As an artist,” she says, “I study the human relationship to nature through architecture, engineered and wild environments. As a native New Orleanian, of primary concern to me has been the endangered wetlands and the cultures affected by the loss of these lands. My work celebrates nature and human ingenuity, while shedding light on both sustainable and unsustainable practices.” Inspired by the Great Depression photographers of the 1930s who documented poverty in America, Varisco has created portraits of Louisiana wetlands threatened by global warming, rising sea levels and destructive human intrusion. Yet her work is not a message of doom but one of hope and faith, faith that we have the capacity and imagination to restore “what seems permanently lost.” Varisco’s interest in photography as a tool for social advocacy began as an art student while attending Loyola University where she earned a bachelor’s of arts. She also studied art and photography in Italy and France before earning a master of fine arts degree in 1995 from Tulane University. “I have always found a way to blend environmental and social justice in my work,” she says. “I see art as a way to create a dialogue around important subjects and to break out of the status quo. Art asks the simple questions. Where it leads us is sometimes blissful, sometimes painful.” Over the last decade, Varisco’s photographs have been included in major public and private collections from New Orleans and across the nation to Paris

16 Louisiana Life July/august 2017

Exhibitions and Events Through Aug. 26

Alexandria Alexandria Museum of Art, “Painting a Nation: Hudson River School.” These singularly American Hudson River School landscapes explore the romantic and idyllic glory of rural 19th-century America, 933 Second St., 318-4433458, Through Sept. 3

Baton Rouge Louisiana Art and Science Museum, through photographs and personal memorabilia, “Faces of the Flood” documents the devastation, survival and hope in the wake of the historic 2016 Baton Rouge flood, 100 River Road South, 225-344-5272, Through Sept. 3

New Orleans New Orleans Museum of Art, “The Pride of Place: The Making of Contemporary Art in New Orleans,” showcases a selection of 20th-century art recently donated to NOMA by prominent art collector Arthur Roger, City Park, 1 Collins Deboll Circle, 504-658-4100, Through Nov. 11, 2018


R. W. Norton Art Gallery, “Enlist! Art Goes to War, 1914-1918.” See what life was like in Shreveport and Caddo Parish during World War I and how artistic posters were used to urge men to enlist, women to become nurses and join the Red Cross, 4747 Creswell Ave., 318865-4201, Through Dec. 9

Lafayette Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, Francis Pavy’s compositions unfold as dream-like symbols or stories. “Lake Arthur Lotus” is a psychedelic swampscape created in the wake of the BP oil spill in 2011, 710 East St. Mary Blvd., 337-4820811,

and Moscow. They also have appeared in local, national and international exhibitions and publications. She is a founder of the New Orleans Photo Alliance and mentors students at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. In addition, she has received important grants for her work, including one in 2012 from the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation. Blissful or painful, Varisco’s work is a masterful and timely response to South Louisiana’s endangered natural landscape. Her photographs are artistic and poetic responses to what she sees. They are to her what words are to poets. As such, they help ordinary people see the landscape around them through Varisco’s lens. In her series Shifting and Fragile Land, Varisco explores the destructive effects of rising sea levels and the positive results of coastal land restoration projects. In other images, she captures cloudy oil sheens floating in the Gulf of Mexico, the result of catastrophic blowouts like the 2010 BP disaster. We also see an oysterman living in complete harmony with the sea. In recent years, her work has taken her to China, Mexico, France and Italy where she photographed intersections of the natural and man-made landscapes.

Over the last decade, photographer Michel Varisco has documented Louisiana’s receding coastal marshes. In her post-Hurricane Katrina Shifting series, she has sought to learn more about the endangered wetlands and the cultures affected by the loss of these lands. Images of Fort Proctor, once located on dry land, and the vanishing marshes in St. Bernard Parish are vivid examples of how far the Gulf has encroached upon the state’s imperiled coastline.


In images such as the Mississippi River Bridge and Plaquemines Parish oysterman Judge Williams, Varisco documents human relationships to nature through architecture, engineered and wild environments. She approaches documentary photography as an art form not only to give viewers visual information but also to create an artistic response to the landscape. Varisco’s images create portraits of Louisiana wetlands threatened by global warming, rising sea levels, and human intrusion. Her work also celebrates “nature and human ingenuity, while shedding light on both the sustainable and unsustainable practices.”

Varisco began Fragile Land after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city and Gulf Coast in 2005. “I was photographing everything to get my mind right,” she says. “My home and city were wrecks. I photographed trees and the new life I saw coming back in them. That helped me feel more hopeful. It was so bleak for a long time. I found peace in City Park. It had become a wild savanna again. There was sadness in these images but there was also a metaphorical sense of hanging in there.” Photographing Katrina’s destruction and nature’s rebirth led to her Shifting series and a desire to learn more about the natural landscape and how to live in harmony with nature. Beginning in 2008, she spent weeks each season of the year, living on houseboats in the wild Atchafalaya Basin, photographing the landscape and life there. At times she chartered planes to fly over

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the coastal wetlands and mouth of the Mississippi to capture her images of the changing coastline. “I took it in, absorbed it, treasured it,” Varisco says. “I took photographs of Delacroix Island, Hopedale, Chauvin, Barataria, Lafourche Parish, Port Fourchon, Eads Jetties at the mouth of the river and oil rigs on the horizon off Grand Isle. I was thinking about the interaction between the engineered and the natural. Even the houseboats are engineered. As the series grew, I was having a conversation with nature.” Varisco’s next adventure was on the Mississippi River. With the help of a river pilot friend, she rode aboard freighters steaming up and down the river capturing images for her new Fluid States series. There she took photographs under water as well as industries, forests and life along the river. Last April, she joined a group of adventurers

canoeing down the Mississippi from Minnesota. She canoed a stretch of the river from Helena, Arkansas, to Arkansas City, paddling 50 miles a day for four days. “We camped on islands, made coffee from the river and did everything we were taught not to do with river water,” she says. “I gained so much respect for the river as the mother of all things. I’m in awe and can’t get enough of the river.” Photographs in her Ruminations series are her immediate responses to the sculpted geometry of man-made architecture against the natural world. For example, we see an automobile junkyard with crushed vehicles stacked one upon another on the edge of a cypress swamp. Another shows waves breaking on a beach with oil platforms looming on the distant horizon. In more uplifting images, she captures the precision of a plowed sugarcane field or a roll of hay lying in the middle of a pasture much like Claude Monet’s famous paintings of haystacks. In addition to photography, Varisco is a sculptor, printmaker, video and assemblage artist with a major installation, “Prayer Wheels for the Mississippi River,” scheduled to be unveiled this November in New Orleans at the citywide art exhibitionProspect. 4. Based on Tibetan prayer wheels she saw during a 2013 visit to China, her multi-media installation is a meditation on how people have lived with the river from prehistoric times to the present. “I am trying to find any discourse on how we live with nature,” she says. “I don’t have all the answers. It’s a journey.” For more information about Varisco, visit n



Lakefront Legacy Maury Strong and Ron Caron revive a New Orleans midcentury modern home designed by Curtis & Davis By Lee Cutrone Photos by Craig Macaluso

Seven years ago, Maury Strong

and her husband Ron Caron were living in a condo in a 19th-century Garden District building when the former got the itch to move. Strong is a filmmaker, architecture aficionado and serial mover and renovator and Caron is a teacher, poet and musician. Lying in bed on a Saturday morning, she trolled the net for real estate listings and came upon an iconic, 1953, midcentury modern house designed by renowned architects Curtis & Davis. (The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is one of the firm’s most notable projects.) The next day, Strong and Caron went to a showing of the house with their friend, architect Wayne Troyer in tow. Fifty-plus years, flood damage and a poorly handled renovation by previous owners had left the Lakeshore property in need of repair. Nevertheless, the couple who lived in Sydney and Los Angeles before returning to their native New Orleans, connected Vintage finds in Ron’s study with its California-modern include an lines, indoor and outdoor Eames chair living spaces and notable from eBay. Italian leather pedigree. So did a slew of desk, Design other buyers. Four offers Within Reach Outlet eBay preceded their own and the Store. Katie dream was put on the Koch drapery. backburner. Two months later, all of the other parties dropped out and owning the home became a reality. The couple spent two years collaborating with Troyer to restore elements of its original architecture and give it a fresh reinterpretation for today.

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The master bedroom’s platform leather and walnut Parallel Wide Bed, Design Within Reach Outlet eBay Store. Bedding from West Elm.


“We had a big dream and those things take time,” says Caron, who coincidentally grew up a half-block from the house. “We had to do it right.” Troyer and studio associate Natan Diacon-Furtado worked closely with the clients to develop a restoration and remodel

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that expressed their personalities. Their mandates included a pool (the 12,000square-foot corner lot provided ample space), a large master closet, a kitchen where they could indulge a shared love of cooking and an environment that combines aspects of their favorite places — Sydney, Los Angeles

and Palm Springs. Troyer, who had the original architectural plans, also considered every component of the project with Curtis & Davis in mind. “His motto was ‘if Curtis and Davis were alive today with the technology available and they would have done it, then we’ll consider doing it,’” says

(Above) The pool is surrounded by painted smooth concrete coping. The Ipe wood deck acts as a pool edge at the pool entrance. (Right top) The lily pond next to the pool contains gold fish, lily pads, lotus plants and a lucky crawfish named Lefty. (Right bottom) A light cove behind the entrance acts as a night-light through the transom window above the door. Additional landscaping in front is by Taylor Williams of Will Garden.

(Above) The living room’s vintage Barcelona chairs belonged to Al Hirt, Ron’s former, late fatherin-law. Velvet Como Sofa from Design Within Reach Outlet eBay Store, French limestone flooring from Stafford Tile & Stone. (Right) Maury Strong and Ron Caron. (Top) The pool was designed by Wayne Troyer of Studio WTA and Evans+Lighter Landscape Architecture. (Middle) The wet bar’s custom cabinetry is by Conner Millworks. (Bottom) The remodeled kitchen features a tile backsplash by Stafford Tile & Stone.

Strong. The striking renovation was featured in the May 2017 issue of Dwell. Key to the restoration was the recreation of the four-foot cantilever over the sliding glass doors overlooking the yard. The rectangular footprint, exposed beams, clerestory windows and window bays overlooking the yard were all original, but the previous renovation eliminated the overhang by extending the outer wall of the house. “It was a defining quality of the house as well as a strategy for shading that needed to be restored,” says Troyer. New architectural iterations also took their cues from the original architecture. Troyer respected the grid layout when reconfiguring rooms to allow for a large master bath and walk-in closet and designed

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walnut wing walls to replace the wood partitions that originally stood in their place. The pool, a collaboration between Troyer and Evans + Lighter Landscape Architecture is so similar to the house in its simplicity and economy of design that it’s hard to imagine the house existed without it. The interior — a marriage of white walls, French limestone floors, custom walnut cabinetry, contemporary lighting and modern furnishings, both vintage and reproduction — is undoubtedly lighter than its 1953 incarnation. The home’s minimalist design manages to evoke authentic period style while also being very of-the-moment, a combination that suits the owners well. “We love it so much,” says Strong. “We thank Wayne every time we see him for giving us our dream home. n


U C LINARY GE HERITA By Jyl Benson & Photographs by Denny Culbert

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Welcome to Louisiana Life’s celebration of the culinarians who are making a mark on our unique state. The beauty of our culinary heritage and the people who are moving it forward while preserving and revealing the treasures of our past are well worth exploring. We asked each of them to share a recipe they feel best reflects their efforts. œ Tell me what you eat (and cook) and I will tell you who you are. This I believe, nor more than ever since I have come to know each of these gifted people who employ those gifts to utilize Louisiana's bountiful agricultural harvest to sustain, enlighten, educate and dazzle us.


West Afr I can Influence Dr. Howard Conyers is frustrated by the lack of recognition the enslaved West African people of America’s past have received for their contributions to the cuisine of the American South. Just put a bowl of okra gumbo next to a bowl of Senegalese soupou kanja and the root is undeniably there. With a Ph.D. from Duke University and a career with NASA testing rocket engines, Conyers, 35 (a native of Paxville, South Carolina, and resident of New Orleans), started using his spare time to bring attention to dying art of whole hog barbecue as it was taught to him by his father. He is frequently called upon to address youth groups and others nationwide, sometimes with the support

Dr. Howard Conyers is a NASA engineer by trade and a whole hog barbecue cook by his South Carolina family tradition. Currently he is also a research fellow at the National Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, the city he now calls home.

of The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, as he uses the practice of cooking hogs to connect his passion for the preservation of his heritage to his work as an engineer and scientist. As a Research Fellow with the National Food & Beverage Foundation and the Southern Food & Beverage Museum (SoFab), he has curated several projects: “South Carolina Barbecue — Culture, Misconceptions and Preservation” and “From the Low Country to the Bayou: A Creole and Gullah Family Reunion.” The latter examined ongoing efforts toward agricultural and culinary preservation across America to expose the influence of West African culinary traditions on contemporary Southern cooking. To execute the program he brought famed Gullah chef B.J. Dennis of Charleston, South Carolina. This spring he presented “Jolof to Jambalaya: An Evening with Chef Pierre Thiam,” at SoFab. The event explored the cultural and culinary ties between Senegal and Louisiana, and included a five-course meal prepared by celebrated Senegalese chef and cookbook author Pierre Thiam, executive chef at the celebrated Nok by Alara in Lagos, Nigeria. Most recently Conyers assumed the role of mentor, partnering with Chef Serigne “Love” Mbaye, 23, a classically trained chef raised in Senegal, who now serves as senior line cook at Commander’s Palace. Together they presented a dinner featuring Senegalese foods made with ingredients indigenous to Louisiana. As is his way, Conyers eschewed the spotlight, instead serving as host as he deliberately trained attention on his young protégé. Never one to rest, Conyers is currently at work on a book that examines barbeque through the voices of his African-American ancestors who shared their traditions orally for future generations. In 2016, he was one of 40 leaders selected nationwide by NextCity, a national urban affairs magazine and non-profit organization based in Philadelphia, to receive the prestigious Vanguard award, which is presented annually to top urban innovators age 40 and younger who are working to make positive changes in American cities. Dr. Howard Conyers, by appointment only,

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Dr. ConyerS’ Hoe CakEs with cane syrup

Combine 1½ cups of cornmeal and ½ cup all purpose flour in a bowl. Mix well. Add 2 cups hot water and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon. Add 1 egg and 2 tablespoons salted butter (melted) and stir well. If the batter is too thick add additional hot water until a batter the consistency of pancake batter is achieved. Take care not to make the batter soupy. Use a ladle to pour out 3-to-4-inch cakes on the prepared cast iron skillet or griddle. Cook the cakes until small bubbles start to form at the edges then carefully flip them over, pressing slightly in the center to ensure even cooking. Cook until golden on both sides, about 3-5 minutes in all. Drain the cakes on paper towels. Serve warm with cane syrup. Makes 12

Life on th E farm Every day Evan McCommon bellows out a “Woooooop.” After a pause he will do it again. In response, hundreds of cows, their calves and bulls will stampede toward him. Among the heritage breeds (or, breeds that have been around for decades or hundreds of years) are Piney Woods and French Charlais. “We’ve conditioned our herd to come to that sound,” McCommon, 40, says. “When they hear it they know something good is about to happen.” Here, the animals are happy and a veterinarian could starve to death for lack of work. Animals that do not thrive at his farm’s minimally invasive approach are sold. Welcome to Mahaffey Family Farms, located in Princeton, about 15 minutes outside of downtown Shreveport. The land has been in the family since 1927 when H.H. “Happy” Mahaffey bought it and established a farm with cattle, an orchard, a sawmill, goats, poultry, pigs, vegetables and a large haying operation, employing many people in the community. Following his sudden death in 1953, Happy’s widow, overwhelmed, slowly sold off the livestock and equipment. The lush pine forest surrounding the farm overtook it. The land remained in the Mahaffey family, ultimately coming under McCommon’s care in 1995, when he began managing it with a focus on timber production, conservation and wildlife management. When the economy crashed in 2008, taking the timber market with it, McCommon turned to his ancestor’s livelihood. Knowing the land had never been exposed to chemical

(left to right) Three generations of McCommons Taylor, Evan and Sandra work together to raise heritage breed Pineywoods cattle and Red Wattle hogs on their family’s land just outside of Shreveport in Princeton. Each weekend they bring their grass fed beef, pasture raised pork and an assortment of eggs laid by their hens to the Shreveport Farmer’s Market.

fertilizers nor pesticides he began clearing some of the forest to create a Savanna pasture. “Savanna means ‘widely spaced trees’,” he said. “While a forest is dark and closed, a savanna has multiple layers — forest, land and open water — and diverse species thrive.” He started planting organic vegetables in 2012, adding more varieties and new species each season. Today he raises heritage breeds of pastured hogs, chickens, goats and cattle using modern technology and the wisdom and sensibilities of the past to produce healthy, delicious 100 percent chemical-free foods while sustainably regenerating his family’s land and nourishing his community. Animal waste is worked back into the system to nourish growing vegetables and water is provided via a pond water irrigation system, resulting in zero waste. Herbicides are avoided by employing hand tools and a small tractor. McCommon regularly partners with area chefs and other culinarians on events to build community and awareness. The Seasons & Traditions dinner series, a collaborative farm-to-table affair hosted on the farm by McCommon and Chef Hardette Harris, creator of the Official Meal of North Louisiana and the “Us Up North” tour and culinary experience, is now in its fourth year. The Piney Woods Supper Club is in its second year. He started the series of roving dinners with Chef Holly and Derek Schreiber of Saint Terre to feature an ever-changing roster of Louisiana chefs using Mahaffey products. Mahaffey Family Farms, 440 Mahaffey Rd., Princeton, 318-949-6249,

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CHilled Purple Hull Peas Smoked Pork with sunny yard egg and Cherokee purple tomato salad

CHILLED PURPLE HULL PEAS & PORK Place 1 pound smoked pork neck bones or hocks in a Dutch oven. Add salt to taste and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the meat is falling from the bones, at least one hour. Strain the meat and the bones from the cooking liquid. Reserve the liquid. When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, discard the bones, shred the meat, and set it aside to cool. Add 1 quart shelled purple hull peas (rinsed), 6 leeks (white and green parts, washed and chopped—may substitute 3 medium onions, chopped), 3 cloves garlic (chopped), 4 organic carrots (peeled and chopped), 1 cup chopped celery, ½ cup mint, salt and pepper to taste, and a dash of cayenne to the reserved cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until peas are tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Strain the vegetables from the cooking liquid and discard the liquid. Combine the peas with the reserved meat and chill until ready to serve.

Cherokee Purple Tomato Salad Combine 2 large heirloom Cherokee purple tomatoes (diced), 2 garden fresh cucumbers (peeled, seeded and diced), 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

To serve Add ¼ cup mint to the pea mixture and toss to incorporate. Divide the pea salad among six chilled salad plates. Divide the Cherokee purple tomato salad atop each of the plates. Top each portion with a fried egg, sunny side up. Serve at once. Serves 6

Blessed are the Meat Makers To sit in the tiny, cramped office at Bourgeois Meat Market is to experience the physical manifestation of the cliché of south Louisiana masculinity. A deer head is mounted high on the wall, below it a picture of Beau Bourgeois, 30, with the felled deer. Next to it is a picture of Lester “Paw-Paw” Bourgeois, 93, holding up a prized catch on a fishing boat. There’s a reverently framed picture of the Madonna and child, numerous bottles of assorted cooking spices, a couple of bottles of vodka and you can hear Lynyrd Skynyrd singing “Simple Man” from the radio in the kitchen where employees work with efficiency and an air of contentment. The Bourgeois family has been making “Miracles in Meat” since 1891 when Valerie Jean-Batiste Bourgeois began slaughtering single pigs or cows and peddling the fresh cuts by horse and carriage to those living along the edges of bayous Terrebonne and Lafourche. With

The Bourgeois family butchers Beau, 30, Lester, 93, and Donald, 55, carry on the traditions started by Valerie JeanBatiste Bourgeois in 1891. (top to bottom) Oxtail, boudin and smoked beef jerky are just some of the many meat products they offer.

the advent of refrigeration, he opened a storefront in the 1920s and began making the smoked sausage, hogshead cheese and boudin that earned him a loyal patronage. When his son, Lester, returned from service in WWII he took over the business, moving the market and slaughterhouse across the street. Of Lester’s seven children, it was his son Donald, now 55, who took over the business. Now Donald’s son, Beau, 30, is heading day-to-day operations, freeing up his dad and Paw Paw to go fishing whenever they like. Each generation has its own legacy within the heritage business. Donald, known for his creativity in the kitchen, is the genius behind the market’s famous smoked beef jerky, of which they sell thousands of pounds each week, shipping it all over the world. Something magical happened when he opened up a casing of boudin, folded the contents into a neat package within a flour tortilla, then toasted it. The resulting Boudin Burrito is now the area’s most popular grab-and-go lunch, served hot from a glass case on the counter near the cash register. His turkey cheese, a riff on the hog variety but made with dark turkey meat, is sought after by squeamish eaters and his mustard-based TTS (Totally Top Secret) sauce could probably make an old sweat sock palatable. As the business moves into Beau’s computersavvy hands his legacy will be expansion. A second market will open in nearby Gray in 2019 or 2020. “Just to take some of the pressure off of this place,” he says. “Sometimes it’s hard to keep up.” As recently as the 1970s there were numerous butcher shops dotting the immediate area, now only Bourgeois’ remains. Beau attributes the business’ longevity and its status as a national landmark to his family’s devotion to turning out top-quality products and adhering to strict customer service policies. The market prepares only enough products to serve a select number of customers each day. If they run out they make more, ensuring meats are always fresh. “It’s our products and it’s our family,” Beau says. “We’re good people, we care and we’re friendly. And that just keeps them coming back.” Bourgeois Meat Market, 543 W Main St., Schriever, 985-447-7128,

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Mock Turtle Soup With 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup oil, make a medium roux the color of peanut butter in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add 3 onions, (chopped), 1 bunch celery (chopped), and 1 bell pepper (chopped) to the roux to stop the color from deepening. Stir well. Add 3 cloves garlic (chopped), reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 45 minutes. Add 6 pounds oxtails (cut up), half of a sliced lemon (thinly sliced into ⅛- to ¼-inch rounds), 3 bay leaves and one 10-ounce can of Ro-tel Diced Original Tomatoes and Green Chiles or 1½ cups chopped fresh tomatoes. Add enough water to cover, about 1½ quarts. Cover the pot and simmer until the oxtails are tender, about 2½ hours. Add half of a sliced lemon (thinly sliced into ⅛- to ¼-inch rounds), and continue to simmer until the meat is falling off the bone. If desired, use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the bones from the soup. Add water as necessary to achieve desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add ½ cup chopped green onions and ¼ cup chopped parsley and continue cooking over low heat until the flavors have married, about 7 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Cut 6 hard-cooked eggs (peeled) in half lengthwise and add them to the pot. Stir gently. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8

Gulf coast bo U   nty Dinner at the Mosquito Supper Club begins with a warning. Once her guests are seated, Chef Melissa Martin, elegant and cosseted in an apron, sweeps into the room and claps loudly, leveling her steel blue gaze upon the assemblage. “Ya’ll! Ya’ll listen. There are a couple of rules, the most important is no clapping. I hate it. You know that really icky feeling you get when someone sings you Happy Birthday? If you clap I am coming to your house and singing you Happy Birthday. Don’t do it.” The other rule is no one is to monopolize the stack of records nor the record player in the corner. “Not everyone wants to listen to something like ‘Thriller’ all night long. Ya’ll share.” With that, she sweeps back into the kitchen to turn out a meal that will change according to the season and what is available. Guests are seated communally. Over the course of the evening, a deeply personal bounty pours forth from the kitchen with most items arriving family-style on platters. There are impossibly light, yeasty "lagniappe" rolls served with dishes of creamy butter enhanced thickly with Poirier’s cane syrup; porcelain tureens filled with briny shrimp and okra gumbo; crisp fried oysters alongside luscious potato salad; a marriage of vine ripened tomatoes, cucumbers and purple pole beans with an acerbic bite signaling their very, very recent departure from the vine; pan-fried lump crab cakes bound with

Chef Melissa Martin (right), originally from Chauvin, cooks her family’s recipes at her weekly Mosquito Supper Club in New Orleans. Martin also offers a private immersive dining experience aboard her small cypress houseboat in the Atchafalaya Basin. On the boat or at the club, diners are introduced, through stories, to the people who shaped Martin’s cuisine.

shrimp paste rather than bread; and blackberry dumplings with bowls of ice cream made with Pop Rouge soda. As glorious as this sounds, it was another item, not listed on the evening’s set menu that defined the experience: every 20 minutes or so someone, often Martin herself, would arrive from the kitchen bearing a platter of enormous, fried softshelled shrimp, a delicacy rarely seen in a restaurant setting. These were doled out, one by one, with tongs. There’s only so much people can reasonably be expected to willingly share. The abundance of those soft-shelled shrimp are a clear indication of Martin’s close ties to the seafood-gathering community — those shrimp were caught by her cousin. She says the dinners she hosts in her small, experimental space just outside of Central City are about telling the story of the shrimpers, oyster fishermen, crabbers and farmers that define her native Cajun cuisine and the life she lived growing up on Bayou Petite Calliou in Chauvin, a place that will soon disappear due to coastal erosion. Her recipes are those she learned at the knees of her mother, aunts and grandmother while enjoying a childhood on the Gulf within an extended family that made its living and took its sustenance from the bounty of the waters. Martin, 39, hosts reservation-only dinners in New Orleans most Thursday and Friday nights, September­through May. She hosts intimate dinners and luncheons on her houseboat, located in the Atchafalaya Basin in Henderson.

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Classic Cajun Stuffed Crabs In a food processor, pulse 1½ pounds wild Gulf shrimp (boiled, peeled and deveined) until they are ground into a sticky paste; set aside. Add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 large yellow onions (diced) and sauté until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add 1 small bell pepper (diced), 1 large stalk celery (diced), and 6 cloves minced garlic (about ¼ cup) and sauté until soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Add 1 cup heavy cream, reduce heat to low, and continue cooking until liquid is reduced by almost three quarters, 10-15 minutes. Remove mixture from heat, add reserved ground shrimp, and stir to combine; allow to cool. In a large bowl, combine the cooled shrimp mixture, 2 pounds fresh lump crabmeat (carefully picked over for shells and cartilage), 1 tablespoon salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste) and 1 tablespoon Louisiana brand hot sauce. Add a generous squeeze of lemon juice, then gently fold in 1 bunch scallions (green and white parts, finely chopped) and 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley (leaves only, finely chopped—reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish). Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for several hours or overnight so that flavors can marry. Taste the shrimp-crab mixture. Adjust the seasonings, adding lemon juice, as desired. Stuff the mixture into 12 cleaned blue crab shells (if available) or form into 12 cakes; lightly dust each shell or cake with 2 cups cornmeal and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large skillet, preferably cast iron, and heat until the oil sizzles when a pinch of cornmeal is tossed in. Working in batches and adding more oil as needed, fry the stuffed crabs, meat side down, or the cakes until golden brown, flipping halfway through, 8 to 10 minutes in all. Add a touch of butter to each. Garnish with reserved parsley and serve immediately with hot, cooked, popcorn rice (Martin likes Baker Farms Gourmet Popcorn Rice, available at with pats of butter. Makes 12 stuffed crabs or crab cakes (plan to serve two per person as an entree)

Tried and true traditi Ons Matthew Moreland wanted in. Since 2005 the New Orleans-based general practice attorney had watched his best friend, Jarred Zeringue, either create or invest in successful businesses. His chance finally came in 2015 when Zeringue approached his old friend about going in on Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse & Restaurant, a heritage business ready for a fresh start. “I was finally able to get on the right boat,” Moreland, 45, says. Founded in 1950 by Nolan Jacob, the smokehouse produced artisan-smoked meats and fresh sausage that they ultimately shipped worldwide while maintaining a restaurant serving traditional Cajun and Creole dishes made with products from the smokehouse. Zeringue’s family had shopped at the smokehouse for generations. Upon assuming ownership of the business, Moreland and Zeringue, who serves as executive chef of the restaurant, took a minimally-invasive approach. They closed for only two days so as not to disrupt the habits of the community it served, instead sneaking in after hours to paint and make physical improvements to the restaurant. They also retained all of the employees who

Matthew Moreland and chef Jarred Zeringue purchased the Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse & Restaurant in 2015. They are preserving the original Jacob’s flavors while adding their personal touch to the menu, building and backyard where they keep chickens and have planted fruit trees.

wanted to stay on, many of whom were the previous owner’s family members. Zeringue, 37, a serial restaurant entrepreneur and chef who also owns EAT!, Vacherie and Cafe Conti restaurants in the French Quarter, turned to his family farm upbringing in Vacherie and his grandmother Winnie’s recipe files as sources for the menu enhancements at the smokehouse’s restaurant. The restaurant is open only for weekday lunch and a Sunday brunch that showcases Bloody Marys made with in-house smoked tomatoes, onions and garlic. Deviled eggs are topped with tiny slivers of house-smoked bacon, rounds of roasted andouille sausage “chips” are served with Creole mustard, smoked tasso enhances creamy macaroni and cheese and the dessert list is comprised entirely of his grandmother’s scratchmade treats. Banana Cream Cheese or Chocolate Chip Buttermilk pie, anyone? Lining the restaurant's shelves are products from Zeringue’s Circle Z Foods line of house-made vinegars, condiments, pepper jelly, smoked salts, salsas and roasted fruit butters, all presented in elegant, minimalist packaging. There are cartons of fresh yard eggs for sale from the variety of chickens, both common and exotic, that now live in the backyard, merrily feeding off of peppers and leftover donuts from a shop down the street. The result is ultra-rich deep golden yolks with a slight peppery kick. Moreland and Zeringue have planted numerous fruit and nut-bearing trees and vines including muscadine, Moreland paper-shell pecan (Moreland’s grandfather patented the variety, a result of grafting a paper shell and a candy pecan root stock together), avocado, fig and olive. Lines of numerous varieties of citrus trees, including a pink lemonade variety with vibrant blush-colored flesh, hold the promise of a lovely allée when they mature. The wealth from the garden will be used in the restaurant and in the Circle Z Foods line. The friends are also investors in Two Run Farms and built a smokehouse at the Mississippi facility that will be used to increase Wayne Jacob’s smoked meat production for commercial distribution to upscale supermarkets. The products will be free of fillers, preservatives, nitrates and gluten. Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse & Restaurant, 769 A West 5th St., LaPlace, 985-652-9990,

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Winnie’s DeVil’s Food Cake with blonde fudge frosting

Devil's Food Cake Preheat an oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two round 9-inch cake pans. Set aside. Sift 3 cups all purpose flour and 3 teaspoons baking powder together. Set aside. Cream 2 sticks salted butter (softened) and 2 cups sugar together. Add 4 eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly to incorporate. Add flour and 1 cup whole milk alternately, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1 teaspoon bestquality cocoa powder, blending thoroughly to incorporate. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake until a cake tester or knife blade comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool the cakes for 20 minutes then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Blonde Fudge Frosting Combine 2 cups sugar, 1 cup evaporated milk and 1 stick salted butter in a saucepot over medium heat and cook stirring, until the mixture reaches the hard ball stage (250-265 F). Remove the mixture from the heat and beat by hand with a whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. Spread on the cake at once. Serves 8


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Top Hospitals

Top Hospitals 2017

There is only one major source

that provides credible ongoing analysis of hospitals. It is Medicare, which as the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older, as well as certain younger people with disabilities, often pays many of the big bills. As part of its informational services, reports on evaluations of hospitals based on queries of patients. For the last three years, the Louisiana Life editorial staff has sifted through the data and created a one-of-a-kind list that demonstrates the state’s hospitals according to locality. To qualify for this list, at least 60 percent of the patients queried had to give the hospital a top overall ranking of 9 or 10. These are the top general service hospitals as seen through the eyes of those who have experienced them firsthand — the patients. Additionally, a few hospitals in the state did not have any information available on Medicare’s website and therefore could not qualify to be on the list. It is noteworthy that this year, more hospitals in the state received a rating of 9 or 10 by more than 60 percent of the patients surveyed, than in previous years. This demonstrates that health care facilities have been further committed to quality, and it’s reflected in their patients’ experiences.


Top Hospitals

Abbeville Abbeville General Hospital - 118 N. Hospital Drive (337) 893-5466

Alexandria Central Louisiana Surgical Hospital - 651 North Bolton Ave. (318) 449-6400 Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital - 3330 Masonic Drive (318) 487-1122 Rapides Regional Medical Center - 211 4th St. (318) 769-3000

Amite Hood Memorial Hospital - 301 W. Walnut St. (985) 748-9485

Bastrop Morehouse General Hospital - 323 W. Walnut (318) 283-3600

Baton Rouge Baton Rouge General Medical Center - 3600 Florida Blvd. (225) 387-7767 Ochsner Medical Center - Baton Rouge - 17000 Medical Center Drive (225) 755-4876 Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center - 5000 Hennessy Blvd. (225) 765-6565 Surgical Specialty Center of Baton Rouge - 8080 Bluebonnet Blvd. (225) 408-8080 The Spine Hospital of Louisiana - 10105 Park Row Circle Suite 250 (225) 763-9900

Woman’s Hospital Woman’s Way (225) 927-1300

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Bogalusa Our Lady of the Angels Hospital - 433 Plaza St. (985) 730-6700

Bossier City




Acadia General Hospital - 1305 Crowley Rayne Hwy. (337) 783-3222

Claiborne Memorial Medical Center - 620 E. College St. (318) 927-2024

Allen Parish Hospital - 108 6th Ave. (337) 738-2527

Cut Off Lady of the Sea General Hospital - 200 W. 134th Place (985) 632-6401

Willis Knighton Bossier Health Center - 2400 Hospital Drive (318) 212-7000


Breaux Bridge

Richland Parish HospitalDelhi - 407 Cincinnati St. (318) 878-5171

St. Martin Hospital - 210 Champagne Blvd. (337) 332-2178

Cameron South Cameron Memorial Hospital - 5360 West Creole Hwy. (337) 542-4111

Chalmette St. Bernard Parish Hospital - 8000 West Judge Perez Drive (504) 826-9500

Columbia Caldwell Memorial Hospital - 411 Main St. (318) 649-6111 Citizens Medical Center - 7939 U.S. Hwy. 165 S. (318) 649-6106

Covington Fairway Medical Center - 67252 Industry Lane (985) 801-6252 Lakeview Regional Medical Center - 95 Judge Tanner Blvd. (985) 867-4443 St. Tammany Parish Hospital - 1202 S. Tyler St. (985) 898-4000

Deridder Beauregard Memorial Hospital - 600 S. Pine St. (337) 462-7100

Farmerville Union General Hospital - 901 James Ave. (318) 368-9751

Franklin Franklin Foundation Hospital - 1097 Northwest Blvd. (337) 828-0760

Gonzales St. Elizabeth Hospital - 1125 W. Hwy. 30 (225) 647-5000

Hammond Cypress Pointe Surgical Hospital - 42570 S. Airport Road (985) 510-6200 North Oaks Medical Center - 15790 Paul Vega MD Drive (985) 345-2700

Houma Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center - 1978 Industrial Blvd. (985) 873-1285 Physicians Medical Center - 218 Corporate Drive (985) 853-1390 Terrebonne General Medical Center - 8166 Main St. (985) 873-4141

Independence Lallie Kemp Medical Center - 52579 Hwy. 51 S. (985) 878-9421

Jena Lasalle General Hospital - 187 Ninth St./Hwy. 84 W. (318) 992-9200

Jennings Jennings American Legion Hospital - 1634 Elton Road (337) 616-7000


Lacombe Louisiana Heart Hospital - 64030 Hwy. 434 (985) 640-7500

Lafayette Heart Hospital of Lafayette - 1105 Kaliste Saloom Road (337) 521-1000 Lafayette General Medical Center - 1214 Coolidge Ave. (337) 289-7991 Lafayette General Surgical Hospital - 1000 W. Pinhook Road Suite 100 (337) 289-8095 Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital - 1101 Kaliste Saloom Road (337) 769-4100 Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center - 4801 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy. (337) 470-2000 Park Place Surgical Hospital - 4811 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy. (337) 237-8119 University Hospital & Clinics 2390 W. Congress (337) 261-6000 Women’s & Children’s Hospital - 4600 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy. (337) 521-9100

Jackson Parish Hospital - 165 Beech Springs Road (318) 259-4435

Lake Charles


Christus St. Patrick Hospital - 524 Dr. Michael Debakey St. (337) 436-2511

Ochsner Medical Center Kenner - 180 W. Esplanade Ave. (504) 468-4806

Lake Area Medical Center - 4200 Nelson Road (337) 474-6370

Lake Providence East Carroll Parish Hospital - 336 N. Hood St. (318) 559-4023

Leesville Byrd Regional Hospital - 1020 Fertitta Blvd. (337) 239-9041 Doctors Hospital at Deer Creek - 815 South 10th St. (337) 392-5088

Luling St. Charles Parish Hospital - 1057 Paul Maillard Road (985) 785-3644


New Orleans



West Jefferson Medical Center - 1101 Medical Center Blvd. (504) 347-5511

New Orleans East Hospital - 5620 Read Blvd. (504) 592-6600

Richardson Medical Center - 254 Hwy. 3048 (318) 728-4181

West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital - 701 East Cypress St. (337) 527-7034


- 1516

East Jefferson General Hospital - 4200 Houma Blvd. (504) 454-4000

Minden Minden Medical Center - No.1 Medical Plaza (318) 377-2321

Monroe Monroe Surgical Hospital - 2408 Broadmoor Blvd. (318) 410-0002


P & S Surgical Hospital Grammont St. Suite 101 (318) 388-4040

St. James Parish Hospital - 1645 Lutcher Ave. (225) 869-5512

St. Francis Medical Center - 309 Jackson St. (318) 966-4000

Mamou Mamou Medical Center - 801 Poinciana Ave. (337) 468-5261

Mansfield Desoto Regional Health System - 207 Jefferson St. (318) 872-4610

Many Sabine Medical Center - 240 Highland Drive (318) 256-1232

Marksville Avoyelles Hospital - 4231 Hwy. 1192 (318) 253-8611

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University Health Conway - 4864 Jackson St. (318) 330-7000

Morgan City Teche Regional Medical Center - 1125 Marguerite St. (985) 384-2440


Ochsner Medical Center Jefferson Hwy. (504) 842-3000 Touro Infirmary Foucher St. (504) 897-7011

- 1401

Tulane Medical Center Tulane Ave (504) 988-5263

- 1415

University Medical Center New Orleans - 2000 Canal Street (504) 903-3000

New Roads Pointe Coupee General Hospital - 2202 False River Drive (225) 368-6386

Oakdale Oakdale Community Hospital - 130 N. Hospital Drive (318) 335-3700

Oak Grove West Carroll Memorial Hospital - 706 Ross St. (318) 428-3237

Olla Hardtner Medical Center - 1102 N. Pine Road (318) 495-3131


Natchitoches Regional Medical Center - 501 Keyser Ave. (318) 214-4200

Opelousas General Health System - 539 E. Prudhomme St. (337) 948-301

New Iberia


Iberia General Hospital and Medical Center - 2315 E. Main St. (337) 364-0441

Ochsner St. Anne General Hospital - 4608 Hwy. 1 (985) 537-8377

Ruston Northern Louisiana Medical Center - 401 East Vaughn Ave. (318) 254-2100

Shreveport Christus Health Shreveport - Bossier - 1453 E. Bert Kouns Industrial Drive (318) 681-5000

Thibodaux Thibodaux Regional Medical Center - 602 N. Acadia Road (985) 447-5500

Ville Platte Mercy Regional Medical Center - 800 E. Main (337) 363-5684


Specialists Hospital Shreveport - 1500 Line Ave. (318) 213-3800

North Caddo Medical Center - 715 South Pine St. (318) 375-3235

University Health Shreveport - 1541 Kings Hwy. (318) 675-5000

West Monroe

Willis Knighton Medical Center - 2600 Greenwood Road (318) 212-4000

Slidell Ochsner Medical Center - Northshore - 100 Medical Center Drive (985) 646-5000 Slidell Memorial Hospital - 1001 Gause Blvd. (985) 643-2200 Southern Surgical Hospital - 1700 W. Lindberg Drive (985) 641-0600 Sterling Surgical Hospital Robert Blvd. (504) 690-8200

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Glenwood Regional Medical Center - 503 McMillan Road (318) 329-4600

Winnsboro Franklin Medical Center - 2106 Loop Road (318) 435-9411

Winnfield Winn Parish Medical Center - 301 W. Boundary St. (318) 648-3000

Zachary Lane Regional Medical Center - 6300 Main St. (225) 658-4000

Springhill Springhill Medical Center - 2001 Doctors Drive (318) 539-1000


Top Hospitals

Lake Charles Memorial Hospital - 1701 Oak Park Blvd. (337) 494-3000


Historically Passionate A Creole dynasty where slaves have names BY Paul

F. Stahls Jr.

Once upon a time, a young

Louisiana man named Norman Marmillion became captivated by tales of a crafty rabbit named Compair Lapin and even presented them as puppet shows, fairs and festivals. His enthusiasm doubled when he learned that Compair Lapin was the hero of age-old folk stories in far-off Senegal, and inspired the beloved Br’er Rabbit character of Uncle Remus fame. Complete enchantment ensued when Norman Marmillion learned that those folktales traveled to his own River Road with Senegalese slaves in the 18th century and would be heard and collected in the 19th century by future Tulane literature professor Alcée Fortier during his visits to Laura Plantation at Vacherie. How enchanted was Norman Marmillion? Well, he and his wife Sand Marmillion bought Laura Plantation in 1993 and began stabilizing structures, improving the grounds and conducting enough research to script the first tours. That early research inspired them to do more and more, and to redirect their ardor and dedication to the human characters of the plantation’s history, from the most ambitious planter to the most hapless field hand. The result is a museum housed in an overseer’s cottage, which was recently attached by an elevated walkway to the big house. Cultural anthropologist Sand Marmillion and research assistant Katy

Plantations along the River

Downstream on the west bank are splendid Evergreen, with an oak allée lining its double row of 22 cypress slave cabins, and ancient Whitney where structures, sculptures and special name-bearing memorials focus on the grim visage of slavery throughout the state.

44 Louisiana Life July/august 2017

Upriver, the cane fields of St. Joseph (still operating amid its slave-built cabins and dependencies) have been farmed by the same family since 1877, and Oak Alley (known for its 28 columns and avenue of 28 giant live oaks) offers interpretive exhibits in restored slave cabins as well as tours of the manor.

Across the river stand the famed “steamboat gothic” house called San Francisco, built in 1853 on a plantation developed in the 1820s by a free man of color named Elisée Rillieux, and Destrehan, a transitional colonial/Greek Revival mansion where the exhibits of one wing preserve the story of America’s greatest

slave revolt, which swept the east bank in 1811. For maps, schedules and scenes of these and other landmarks and activities along the Great River Road National Scenic Byway, visit or contact New Orleans Plantation Country offices at 2900 Hwy. 51 in LaPlace (985359-2562,

DO “Twelve years a slave” For information on the new “Twelve Years a Slave” audiobook featuring the voice of Lou Gossett Jr., or on a tour app featuring directions to Avoyelles Parish settings of events described in Solomon Northup’s 164-yearold book, visit That site is maintained by Frank Eakin in honor of his mother, the late Louisiana historian Sue Eakin whose “young readers” version of the book and years of research on Northup were credited by the film’s director Steve McQueen with keeping the story alive.

Shannon plunged two decades ago into the daunting search for 200-year-old details about the lives of masters and (often with no surnames and minimal written records to go on) their slaves. Imagine 20-odd years of library archives, death notices, census records, church records, online genealogy programs, military duty and pension records, notarial archives, city directories, conveyance and succession records. Each source to be combed exhaustively then cross-referenced to every other.

The big reward, they say, was finding clues to a slave’s thoughts and emotions — his or her interrelationships revealed in legal depositions or in personal letters and journals written for or about them by the landowners. Or painstakingly pieced together from several sources, like the story of Austin Wilson who, working in the fields one day in 1862, spied a Union gunboat tied up at riverside. He walked straight to the boat, boarded and enlisted on the spot, returning after the war to resume work as a

field hand and acquire several tracts of land, some of which he donated for construction of a church. Center stage on the plantation was the big house, built in 1805 by Guillaume DuParc, a French naval officer who fought the British at Pensacola and commanded the military district of Pointe Coupee. The home and lands would eventually be named for his grandson’s daughter, Laura Locoul (1861-1963), who would own the vast estate for many decades. The most valuable finds for masters and slaves alike, says Sand Marmillion, were Locoul’s own journal (now published as “Memories of the Old Plantation Home”), a vast album of words and photographs assembled by the family to celebrate Locoul’s century of life, and 900 pages of testimony by family members and servants during Locoul’s mother’s petition (as a French citizen) for reimburse(Left) ment for losses and damages Laura inflicted on the plantation Plantation (Top) during Union occupation. Restored Norman Marmillion slave cabins meanwhile, besides operating Laura Plantation alongside Sand Marmillion and conducting a major restoration after an electric fire in 2004, has been busy establishing a “new” home: buying a 1782 colonial called Columbia in Edgard (once home of his four-greatsgrandfather), moving it six miles upriver, masterminding its complex restoration and surrounding it with a series of gardens that will present traditional plants of Native Americans and every wave of inhabitants that have followed. When can you see it? Stay tuned.


DETOURS A plantation pilgrimage can be a vacation too, and to accommodate River Road travelers with ample time, five major plantations offer overnighting in grand style, dining and even swimming pools, julep bars and tennis courts. NOTTOWAY and houmas house First (in downriver order) come Nottoway near White Castle on the west bank and Houmas House near Burnside on the east side, both featuring opulent dining rooms and cafés, lavishly furnished cottages and sprawling gardens., 225-473-9380; or, 225545-2730.

Laura Locoul was the fourth mistress of the plantation. She was born in the house in 1861.

In the Creole tradition, Laura Plantation has no hallways, the rooms accessed via doors into each other and French doors from the surrounding gallery. The home’s size, five rooms wide and two deep, meant that the center rooms could provide a parlor and dining room and still leave four two-room suites available for multiple generations or for the families of grown siblings. Thus a home tour reveals, room-by-room, appropriate family portraits, vintage photography and furniture, many pieces returned to the home from France and around the United States by relatives. Then the tour moves outside to see the pleasure garden, kitchen garden, key outbuildings and slave cabins, always ending back at the genealogy museum for some quality time. The genealogical findings are of primary interest for many (did you know Antoine

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“Fats” Domino’s parents worked as sharecroppers on property formerly of the plantation?), but save some time for slave and freedman topics like Slave Trade, Runaways and Skilled Labor, and for plantation-life topics such as Health and Medicine, Domestic Life, Religion, Agriculture and the Civil War. Needless to say, for Norman Marmillion and Sand Marmillion, there’s still a special place in their hearts and museum exhibits for Compair Lapin and Br’er Rabbit stories, after which the boardwalk leads back into the big house for some time in the more-than-T-shirts shop, actually, for all practical purposes, a library and bookshop for titles related to Louisiana plantations, the River Roads, slavery and the Civil War. n Laura Plantation

open 9:30 a.m. daily, with tours 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 888-799-7690 •

oak alley Downriver on the west bank, Oak Alley near Vacherie boasts comfy B&B cottages scattered about its oak-strewn acreage, plus free country breakfasts, Cajun/ Creole restaurant, café and room service. Oakalleyplantation. com, 225-265-2151. Poché Plantation and Ormond Plantation On the east bank, the Judge Felix Poché Plantation in Convent, a Victorian Renaissance beauty built in 1867, is now a classic B&B with guest rooms in the big house, and colonial Ormond Plantation is a fullfledged restaurant plus guestrooms in the circa-1787 manor., 225-562-7728; or, 985764-8544.


farther flung

Alabama Coasting Beaches, Gulf seafood, wildlife and history abound in sweet home Alabama


written and photographed By


Cheré Coen

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo Get up close and personal with the more-than 500 animals in this zoo that believes that animals should be experienced, not simply watched. Next year the zoo expands and moves to a larger facility.

The Alabama coast

may appear small on a map, but the state’s Gulf access offers numerous and varied attractions from a world-class zoo and activities on the water to excellent shopping by day and a vibrant nightlife after dusk. Of course, there is the gorgeous turquoise water and quartz sandy beaches that allow visitors to slow down the pace, relax and soak up the Southern sun. Most of the coast centers around the beach towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, but west of both is Fort Morgan, where visitors find a host of accommodation choices, wildlife refuges and Civil War history. There’s also Dauphin Island, southwest of Mobile, accessible by ferry from Fort Morgan or off Interstate 10.

Dolphin boat rides Dolphins love to swim into the back bays of Orange Beach and captains are all too happy to float alongside these mammals and give visitors a view. Some captains will also demonstrate oyster fishing and shrimping. The Wharf This massive development at Orange Beach is the place to see big-name entertainment but don’t miss riding the Ferris wheel which gives an amazing view of the coast.

Back to Nature It’s all about getting outside this summer. In addition to three miles of Gulf beaches

Good Bets Tours and Fests

At the western end of the Gulf Shores peninsula is Fort Morgan, a citadel built to protect Mobile Bay and once the largest permanent military base in Alabama at the turn of the 20th century. The park offers candlelight evening

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tours with historical interpreters in June and July and on Aug. 5, a commemoration of the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay. After Labor Day, the crowds fall off

substantially, and if you’re waiting for that chance to enjoy the beach with likeminded adults, visit during The Wharf Uncorked, a festival of wine and food tastings Sept. 14-16 at The Wharf in Orange Beach.

Things pick back up in October, when hundreds of visitors flock to the 46th Annual National Shrimp Festival with its 300 vendors offering artwork, arts and crafts and, of course, shrimp dishes.


and camping options, Gulf State Park offers 25 miles of paved trails, many of which have been recently improved. The best way to enjoy the park is to rent bicycles and explore the boardwalk surrounding Lake Shelby, the alligators on Middle Lake and a possible bobcat sighting in the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge near Fort Morgan also offers trails, some that lead to pristine beaches and wildlife spotting, the reason its name means “safe harbor.” Hit the water by canoe or kayak at the Graham Creek Nature Preserve in Foley or learn more about Gulf ecosystems at the Estuarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

shopping Most people know Foley for its enormous Tanger Outlets, but don’t miss visiting the historic downtown for antiques, boutiques and museums. You can board the train at Heritage Park, watch the dozens of model trains weave through a 1/4-mile track at the Foley Alabama Railroad Museum or watch a smaller train circle Stacey Drugs and Olde Tyme Soda Fountain while sipping decadent milk shakes. Coming later this summer is OWA, an event center destination constructed by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The Beach There are 32 miles of sugar-white beaches in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, so throw off those shoes. Public access exists in many places, including as part of the Gulf State Park. Beach equipment rentals are available, and visitors may choose to parasail, kayak, jet ski, paddleboard or fish, among many other water sports. n

Tacky Jack’s is known for its colorful locations, great views and water sports, but they make a mean breakfast too. Watch fishermen head off for their catch while enjoying a shrimp omelet, oversized pancakes and biscuits and gravy. Seafood is the name of the game on the Alabama coast, and plenty of great restaurants serve it up. For oysters, visit Wintzell’s Oyster House. Families looking for a bargain can hit The Shrimp Basket, which offers all-youcan-eat nights. King Neptune’s in Gulf Shores serves up royal red shrimp, a delicious deepsea catch native to the coast. What’s the beach without a frothy drink and a volleyball pit? The Hangout at the corner of Highway 59 and Beach Boulevard is the place for seafood, drinks, live music and special events. Over in Orange Beach, sample shrimp tacos and specialty drinks in comfy chairs at The Gulf, a new restaurant composed of shipping containers. Skirting the state line is the FloraBama, a landmark bar and restaurant that’s home to the annual Mullet Toss, among others.


roadside dining

LA Guns Pops & Rockets takes its sticky, sweet, ‘80s inspired treats on tour throughout Acadiana by

Jyl Benson

photos by Romero

& Romero

Sophisticated palates,

an explosion in culinary entrepreneurism and a ceaseless demand for sweet relief from the heat of summer initiated the launch of Pops & Rockets. The highly versatile popsicle is currently one of the hottest things going in Louisiana. Robbie Austin and Nick Villaume grew up together in Lake Charles. They share a love of ‘80s music, glitz and culture. In the summer of 2014 they morphed their passions into Pops & Rockets, a line of gourmet popsicles inspired by ‘80s music. They booted up their business with a successful crowd funding campaign, selling over 5,000 pops at the launch to get them started. Villaume is the operations manager, Austin is the creative guy. Like the metalheads they are, the duo launched Pops & Rockets with flavors like “Back in Blackberry” made

(Top to bottom) Blister, I Know You’re the One - Pineapple/Ginger with a raspberry; Psychoconut Killer - Coconut/Pistachio; Karma Chamelon - Watermelon/Mint; I Caramelt With You - Salted Caramel; 99 Red Doubloons- Strawberry Pina Colada; HI of the Tiger - Lavender Lemonade; Back in BlackberryBlackberry/Coconut; Alive and King Cake - Cream Cheese and Cinnamon; No Cream Compares 2U - Cookies and Cream

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with blackberry, coconut and raspberry flavors and riffing on AC/DC’s hit “Back in Black,” and “Cran Halen” (cranberry and satsuma) for a fun poke at Van Halen. Those early favorites are now perennials on an expanded menu that encompasses dip pops and filled pops. Check out “Bacon the Law” a maple, bacon pop honoring Judas Priest; “Pop You Like a Hurricane,” an homage to the hit song by The Scorpions and involves Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Mix. They are covering the rap scene, too with “Raz DMC,” a raspberry and lime pop. “After a lot of trial and error, we’re finally about to release “You Can Still Pop in America,” Villaume said. Named for a Night Ranger tune, the confection is made with strawberry cream and strawberry Pop Rocks candy suspended in white chocolate. Pops & Rockets recently opened an expanded production facility in downtown Lake Charles on Pujo street next door to Botsky’s Premium Hot Dogs, a move that makes sense for the simpatico businesses. “In addition to a wide variety of pops, we’ve added hand-made ice cream to the menu,” Villaume says. “It’s made with milk from Hillcrest Creamery, a local, all pastured, hormone-free, non-homogenized dairy. They make that super creamy milk that you had when you were a kid and it’s the


perfect addition to our nostalgic fantasy.” The shop features ‘80s tunes and vintage arcade games. Villaume says they’ve also begun expansion into Lafayette, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. “In Lafayette, we’ve been out selling at the popular Rythm’s on the River concert series and our pops just became available at La Creperie Bistro at The Parc Lafayette Shopping center,” says Villaume. “Also in Lafayette, we have partnered with Reve Coffee Roasters to reconfigure our ‘Ebony & Ivory’ pop. We are now using their chicory coffee blend and it is soooo good. You’ll soon find our cart every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Jefferson Towers across from Pamplona in downtown Lafayette.” The kick off in Baton Rouge was the Live After 5 concert series and the Baton Rouge Blues Festival. Villaume says the response was so big, they wound up having to drive their freezer truck back to Lake Charles that Sunday to stock up on more pops. “We brought almost 1,000 pops on Friday,” Villaume says. “We don’t have any retail spaces selling our pops in Baton Rouge yet. But, there will be some coming real soon.” n

Pops and Rockets

104 W. Pujo Street Lake Charles 888-978-7677

Having a party, wedding, fundraiser or school event? Pops & Rockets will bring the goods. The 50 Pop Party Freezer starts at $150 and the team will deliver a freezer loaded with up to 125 pops in up to 6 flavors. Order the 100 Pop Party Cart for $300 and the team will show up at your event and give out pops to your guests.


great louisiana chef

From the Soul Shreveport Chef Eleazar Mondragon adds a heavy dose of love to dishes at Ki’ Mexico By

Ashley McLellan & Romero

photos by Romero

Chef Eleazar Mondragon’s take

on modern Mexican at Ki’ Mexico is comfort food at its finest and is deeply inspired by friends, family and love. “This might sound corny, but [it’s all about] the love for food,” he says. “How it brings family or friends together, how versatile it is, and how beautiful and colorful fruit and vegetables can be and what can I prepare with them. I also think it’s in my blood, since I come from a family of great cooks and also because I’m from Mexico, a country where almost everything revolves around food.” Known for its own brand of “Mexican soul food,” with lush plates of handmade tacos, tortugas and a decadent brunch menu on Sundays, Eleazar genuinely cooks from the heart, an experience he hopes his customers feel. “We just want them to have a great experience,” he says. “One costumer told me one day ‘When I eat at your restaurant, I feel like I’m eating at your house, I feel like if I was eating what your mom made your family for dinner.’ And he was right, many of our dishes are recipes from my mom, some of them are mine and all of them are made with love.” Chef Eleazar is constantly at work, making tweaks and improvements, both in the menu and the restaurant, but also on his own skills as a chef. “My plans are to keep improving myself so I can keep providing new and different food. I like to travel a lot and that helps me to get new ideas to bring to our customers.” n

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TACO CON VEGETALES In a medium-size pan, drizzle enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom and heat until just shimmering. Add ½ small onion (chopped) and cook until tender; add 1½ tablespoons of garlic and cook until fragrant, then add 7 ounces of whole shiitake mushrooms and stir. With the help of some kitchen scissors, thinly cut 1 pasilla chile pepper widthwise and add to the mushroom mixture, making sure to stir constantly. Once the mushrooms have cooked, add 2 zucchini squash (small dice) and cook until tender. Season with salt and add 2 tablespoons of chopped epazote (optional) or 1 teaspoon of chopped thyme. Stir one more time and turn off the heat. Keep warm. In a different skillet, pan-roast 1 cup of corn (fresh, cut off cob) over medium heat. No oil is necessary; just make sure to stir constantly until the corn is done. To Serve Heat up the tortillas. Add the mushroom and zucchini squash mixture, drizzle some Mexican cream (as needed), add queso fresco (as needed), and finish with some roasted corn. Eat and enjoy.


kitchen gourmet

Summer Favorites Make an easy meal out of soft-shell crab with ice cream for dessert by

Stanley Dry

photos and styling by

Eugenia Uhl

Whether grilled (as pictured), fried or sautéed, soft-shell crabs are one of summer’s finest gifts, a delicacy treasured by devotees who never tire of them.

Grilled SoftShell Crabs Cooking times will vary, depending on the heat of your grill and the size of the crabs. Preheat grill. Rinse 8 soft-shell crabs. Remove gills and back flap. Cut off the front of the face, including the eyes. Pat dry with paper towels. Melt ¼ pound butter in saucepan, add 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice and hot sauce to taste. Using a brush, baste crabs with butter. Spray preheated grill with oil and toast 8 slices country French or Italian bread on both sides. Brush with butter. Remove bread to serving plates. Spray grill with oil and add crabs, top shell down. Baste with additional butter and cook until shell turns a reddish brown, about 2 minutes for medium-size crabs. Turn crabs, baste with additional butter and cook until bottom shell begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove crabs from grill and place atop toast. Brush with additional butter and season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Makes 4 servings.

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We all have lovely

summer memories, and they often involve food. Ask me what I particularly look forward to this time of year and, without hesitation, I will answer, “soft-shell crabs and homemade ice cream.” A daily diet of those two might not be what most nutritionists would recommend, although if they were supplemented with salads and vegetables, we might be onto something. There are three principal ways of preparing soft-shell crabs. The first, and the most common, is deep-frying. We recently had fried soft-shell crabs at Middendorf’s in Manchac, and they were magnificent, as well as huge. It’s off-topic, but I can’t resist mentioning the restaurant’s turtle soup, which was as good as any I’ve ever eaten and better than most, and the broiled flounder, which was superb. The second method for preparing soft-shell crabs is to sauté them in clarified butter and make a little sauce by deglazing the pan with white wine and whisking in some softened butter. This is a quick and excellent preparation, and

sautéed soft-shell crabs Cooking times will vary, depending on the size of the crabs. Unless you have a very large skillet, you can cook these crabs in two batches or use two large skillets. Rinse 8 soft-shell crabs. Remove gills and back flap. Cut off the front of the face, including the eyes.

until a year ago it was, without question, my favorite. It actually may still be my favorite, but it now has some competition from the third method, which involves grilling the crabs. I had heard and read that grilling or broiling soft-shell crabs produced excellent results, but I had never tried it. Last summer I found a source for live soft-shells, bought a dozen and put this method to the test. I basted the crabs with a mixture of melted butter, lemon juice and hot sauce, grilled them quickly over a hot fire and served them atop bread toasted on the grill. The toast soaked up the butter, crab juices and crab fat, and the result was absolutely delicious — the essence of crab. After a meal of soft-shell crabs, a dish of homemade ice cream seems just right. Making ice cream used to be a project that required lots of ice, salt and effort. Today, with the availability of countertop ice cream machines powered by electricity instead of your arm, making ice-cream is a snap, so there’s no excuse for not frequently indulging in one of the glories of summer. n

Pat dry with paper towels and dredge in 1 cup all-purpose flour. Shake off excess. Add enough clarified butter to the skillet(s) to form a thin layer and place over medium heat. When butter is sizzling, add crabs, top side down, and cook until shell is a reddish brown, about 2 minutes. Turn crabs and cook until shell begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer crabs to serving plates.

Pour off most of the butter, increase heat to high and add wine. Scrape up any brown bits adhering to the pan and boil ²⁄³ cup dry white wine until it becomes syrupy, then add 4 tablespoons softened butter, a tablespoon at a time, while stirring or whisking to form an emulsion. Pour sauce over crabs. Season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Lemon Ice Cream Vanilla Ice Cream The definition of security is having a container of vanilla ice cream in the freezer. Whether eaten on its own, combined with a slice of cake or pie or embellished with a sauce or topping, vanilla is unbeatable. Heat 3 cups whole milk in a heavy saucepan to just below a boil. In a mixing bowl, beat 8 egg yolks and ¾ cup granulated sugar until light and airy. Slowly add hot milk to egg yolks, a little at a time, while whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high-heat silicone spatula until thickened. The mixture will coat the spatula when ready. Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Place the bowl in a container of ice and water and stir until cool. Add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Refrigerate until cold, then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes a little less than 1 quart.

This is a light and very refreshing ice cream, just right for the season. 3 cups whole milk 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest 6 egg yolks ¾ cup granulated sugar ¾ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice 1. In a heavy saucepan heat milk and lemon zest to just below a boil. 2. In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until light and airy. Slowly add hot milk to egg yolks, a little at a time, while whisking constantly. 3. Return mixture to sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high-heat silicone spatula until thickened. The mixture will coat the spatula when ready. 4. Through a fine mesh strainer pour mixture into a bowl. Strain lemon juice into the mixture and stir to combine. Place the bowl in a container of ice and water and stir until cool. 5. Refrigerate until cold, then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes about 1 quart.

tip Clarified butter has a higher smoke point than whole butter, so it is often preferred for sautéing. To make clarified butter, simply melt whole butter, skim off the foam that rises to the top, pour off the clear butter fat (the clarified butter) and discard the milk solids on the bottom of the pan.


56 Louisiana Life July/august 2017

New Orleans



3131 N. I-10 Service Rd East, Suite 401 Metairie, LA 70002 | (504) 733 – 2212

Across Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, CORE Construction continues to build strong relationships with communities, clients, program managers, and design partners. As part of the post-Katrina rebuilding efforts, CORE has worked with multiple school districts to rebuĂĽild seventeen K-12 schools across Greater New Orleans. Over the past year, CORE has expanded its school portfolio and diversified its local portfolio of

private projects including churches, hotels, industrial facilities, and public-private partnership developments. Following the August 2016 flood, CORE emerged as a steadfast partner to the State of Louisiana and the recovery of communities from Lafayette to Gonzales. Under the helm of President and Louisiana native Brad Roberts, CORE Louisiana has grown to more than 110 employees with average annual revenues north of $115M per year.


Summer Across the State Traveling Around Louisiana


here are countless ways to spend summer days in Louisiana: exploring a state park or refuge by foot, boat, or bike, chowing down at a local food festival, or enjoying a cold beverage and peanuts at a baseball game. Perhaps you prefer opening your mind at an art gallery or state historic site or museum, relaxing with a glass of wine and decadent entrée at a famous or hidden restaurant, or dancing to the unique sounds of Louisiana bands. Or how about shopping the latest trends for summer fashion and home goods or the fine art and crafts created by some of the South’s most creative and skilled craftsmen? Louisiana is a state that offers something for everyone, and this summer, a day-trip or a weeklong vacation can serve as a relaxing getaway without the expense of long travel. Grab your suitcase and hit the road—the state is full of treasures ready for you and your family to discover.

Cities, Towns, & Parishes The heart of plantation country, Iberville Parish is known for its serene landscapes, quiet swamps, and elegant history. Located between the diverse waterways of the Atchafalaya Basin and bustling Baton 58 Louisiana Life July/august 2017

Rouge, Iberville Parish is home to magnificent antebellum homes, majestic churches, and fascinating historic sites. Explore Iberville online through a new interactive map at and plan your journey to the Parish. From attractions such as stately Nottoway Plantation and architectural gem St. John the Evangelist Catholic

Church to rounds of golf at The Island and seafood at Roberto’s River Road Restaurant, Iberville Parish welcomes visitors craving an authentic South Louisiana adventure. Whether history beckons you to the Plaquemine Lock State Historic Site or the Hansen’s Disease Museum in Carville, or the beauty of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area draws you in for fishing and bird watching, Iberville Parish promises an unforgettable escape for a day, a weekend, or more. Rest, relax, eat, and explore along the winding Mississippi River. For more information and to plan your trip, go to St. Mary Parish, also known as the Cajun Coast, is a treasure for experiencing the great outdoors in Sportsman’s Paradise. Surrounded by the waters of Bayou Teche, Atchafalaya River, and the Atchafalaya Swamp Basin, the Cajun Coast is known for its natural splendor and “road less traveled” atmosphere. Options for exploration, relaxation, and excitement abound on both water and land. Find your calm among the serene wilderness of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area or along the Bayou Teche Scenic Byway. Boaters enjoy the waters of the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest overflow swamp, as well as the scenery and sounds of the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge. Golfers love the Atchafalaya at Idlewild, which was rated the number one golf course in Louisiana by Golfweek Magazine in 2008 and 2009 and number two by Golf Advisor in 2017. This summer, experience, Morgan City’s Bayou BBQ Bash (July 14-15), and the Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival during Labor Day Weekend. For more information, visit Experience for yourself the arts and culture of Ruston and Lincoln Parish! Home to Louisiana Tech University and Grambling State University, the area is alive with cultural events, festivals and more! Activities coming up this fall include the Makers Fair, Artoberfest, Rock the Railroad, and Loyal Blue Weekends. Must see attractions in include the Louisiana Military Museum

the Eddie G. Robinson Museum. Looking for an outdoor adventure? Check out Lincoln Parish Park! Nationally known for the mountain biking trails, Lincoln Parish Park is also a great location for camping, hiking, fishing, or relaxing hammock-style. Meanwhile, Downtown Ruston is bustling with boutique, specialty and gift shops, art galleries, and restaurants with live music. Enjoy a drink on the patio at Sundown Tavern or New Orleans inspired cuisine at Ponchatoulas, each with live bands performing every weekend. For more information on Ruston and Lincoln Parish, visit or call 800-392-9032. Eat, shop, and play your way through central Louisiana. Discover more than 100 locally owned and operated restaurants in the Alexandria/Pineville area including breakfast spots like Sentry Grill and Lea’s Lunchroom. Enjoy a romantic dinner at Janohn’s or The Bentley Room. Shop antique stores, flea markets, and specialty boutiques sprinkled throughout the area. Find that special gift at Crossroads Pharmacy or Funky Fleur de Lis shops. Or, grab that spectacular accessory at Sassy Girl or Select Trends Boutiques. Bring the whole family and play at the Alexandria Zoo or Gone Wild Safari for an amazing animal adventure experience. Or, soak up some history with a tour at Southern Forest Heritage Museum or the Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum. There are so many ways to eat, shop, and play your way through Alexandria/Pineville. Begin planning your way by visiting or calling 800-551-9546.

Entertainment & Accommodations Join friends and family for the Highland Jazz and Blues Festival, a free neighborhood music festival organized every fall as a gift to the Historic Highland community in Shreveport, Louisiana. The 14th Annual “Party in the Park” will


be Saturday, September 16th, from 11:00pm-6:00pm in Columbia Park in Shreveport, Louisiana. Plan to celebrate the whole weekend through several jazz and blues events all benefiting the festival. Friday, September 15th will be a Festival Preview Party at Great Raft Brewing with live music, food trucks, and more. Saturday, September 16th, spend the afternoon at Columbia Park listening to over nine bands on two stages including New Orleans’ favorites, Marc Broussard and Chris Thomas King, along with multiple Shreveport favorites. There will also be over 60 food and art vendors along with children’s activities throughout the day. After the festival, attendees can head to the Official After Party at Twisted Root Burger Co. for more live music and festivities. For more information on the festival, visit the festival website at Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter is located in the heart of the French Quarter on world-famous Bourbon Street. They offer 186 comfortable guest rooms, more than 4,000 square feet of market-leading meeting facilities, a tropical courtyard with an outdoor pool, 24-hour fitness center, and more. Café Opera, the Four Point’s full-service restaurant features a classic New Orleans menu of Creole and continental cuisine. Guests can also enjoy a wide selection of specialty drinks at the Puccini Bar. Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter is located on the site of the French Opera House (18591919), a legendary New Orleans cultural venue. Their performance series, “Opera Returns to Bourbon Street” features local operatic talent from the New Orleans Opera Association and local classical vocalist group Bon Operatit! Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter is located at 541 Bourbon Street. For reservations and more, call 866-716-8133, or visit When living the New Orleans experience, it’s important to envelop yourself in the essence of New Orleans—a feeling captured by each upscale property in the

New Orleans Hotel Collection (NOHC). NOHC properties are set apart by distinctive style, personalized service, and superb location. Locally owned and operated, the collection consists of the new JUNG Hotel and Residences opening in November, the Bourbon Orleans, Dauphine Orleans, Crowne Plaza (Airport), The Whitney Hotel, Hotel Mazarin, and Hotel Le Marais. Hotel Le Marais, Hotel Mazarin, and Bourbon Orleans were named among “New Orleans’ Ten Best Hotels” by readers of Conde Nast Traveler. A consistent guest-favorite, Whitney Hotel is conveniently close to both the World War II Museum and Lafayette Square’s Wednesday summer concert series. New Orleans Hotel Collection’s “no nickel and dime” approach provides all guests with a free breakfast, a welcome drink, in-room bottled artesian water and coffee, Wi-Fi, newspapers, and access to a business and fitness center. For a special readers’ discount better than any online travel agency for direct bookings, visit

Regional Fun Situated high on the bluffs above the Mississippi River, Vicksburg, Mississippi, serves as the “Key to the South” and prides itself on its perfect location as a midway point between Memphis and New Orleans. If you’re in search of the elusive sound of the Mississippi Delta Blues, you’ll find it in Vicksburg. Live Mississippi music from the Delta Blues to country and rock can be enjoyed at venues throughout the city. Learn American history by visiting the site of the defining battle of America’s defining war at the Vicksburg National Military Park. Enjoy the southern charm of Vicksburg by strolling the brick-paved streets of its historic downtown.Visit eclectic boutiques, art galleries and various eateries featuring Southern specialties. Enjoy sweeping views of the mighty Mississippi River and some of the most beautiful sunsets imaginable. Relax – it all runs on river time! For more to see and do in Vicksburg, go to, or call 800-221-3536.

State of Medicine


ith its reputation for passing a good time, remarkable cuisine, and a nickname like Sportsman’s Paradise, Louisiana is a great place to live and make a lifetime of memories. Whether you reside in the city, on the bayou, or in the ’burbs, Louisiana communities offer an approach to living you don’t find anywhere else. And when you or a family member encounters a health concern, the state is also a great place to find expert healthcare. As hospitals continue to advance their programs and technologies, Louisiana residents reap the benefits of finding state-of-the-art treatments close to home. Premier cancer treatments and cutting edge physical therapy are just a couple of the notable offerings we can access in our own backyard. Take a look at some of the latest medical news and treatments from providers across the state, and explore the your options for when an ailment or injury strikes. To hear the words “you have cancer” is a life-changing event. At East Jefferson General Hospital, these words are not the beginning of the end; they’re the beginning of the fight. East Jefferson General’s ability to help you fight and win your battle with cancer is unsurpassed in this region. The hospital prides itself on providing a highly personalized approach to every patient. Perhaps nothing speaks to that more than East Jefferson General’s status as a member of the MD Anderson Cancer Network. MD Anderson is recognized as America’s premier cancer fighting center. East Jefferson General is proudly the state’s only hospital to be a part of that prestigious network of care. The hospital’s physicians and staff are leading the way in a more personalized and forward-thinking approach to achieving their only goal: survivorship. To find a physician member of the MD Anderson Cancer Network, call HealthFinder at 504-456-5000, or visit The Rehabilitation Center of Thibodaux Regional, located in Lafourche Parish, offers an aquatics therapy program to help patients after injury or for those with chronic illness. Therapists at the Center utilize the Hydroworx Therapy Pool, which features an underwater treadmill, resistance jets, adjustable floor, and underwater video monitoring. This leading edge technology allows individuals to mimic land-based walking, running, or sports-specific activities without the bodyweight and joint impact they experience on land. Aquatic therapy can make treatment and exercise less painful, and as a result, more successful, leading to improved quality of life. To learn more about aquatic therapy, contact the Rehabilitation Center of Thibodaux Regional by calling 985-493-4782.



july/august Events and festivals around the state by Kelly

Massicot PHOTO BY Cheryl Gerber JULY 1. Houma Independence Celebration. Houma. JULY 1-3. Fourth of July Fishing Rodeo. Cypremort Point. JULY 4. Red, White, Blue & You Festival. Lake Charles. 337-491-9159 JULY 4-6. 79th Annual Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. Lake Charles. JULY 7. Bordeaux, Brie Et Bonnard. Lafayette. JULY 8. Downtown Art Walk. Lafayette. JULY 14-15. Cajun Music and Food Festival. Lake Charles. JULY 20. Ladies “Coco Classic” Benefitting Autism Speaks. Houma.

Greater New Orleans JULY 1-2. Essence Festival. New Orleans. JULY 1. Slidell Heritage Festival. Slidell. JULY 1. New Orleans Shakespeare Festival. New Orleans. JULY 3-4. Go Fourth on the River. New Orleans. JULY 7-9. San Fermin en Nueva Orleans (Running of the Bulls). New Orleans. JULY 12. Jefferson Chamber Grand Prix. Avondale. events

JULY 21-23. Louisiana Sportsman Show. New Orleans. JULY 22. West Bank Beer Fest. Avondale. JULY 22-23. SweatFest 2017. New Orleans. AUGUST 4-6. Satchmo SummerFest. New Orleans. AUGUST 5. Whitney White Linen Night. New Orleans. AUGUST 12. Red Dress Run. New Orleans. AUGUST 12. Dirty Linen Night. New Orleans.

Red Dress Run Each year, New Orleanians and visitors don their best red dress getup for the annual Red Dress Run. This event is for those who enjoy running and drinking — which means all participants must be 21 or older. Red Dress Run is put on by the New Orleans Hash House Harriers (or NOH3), the drinking club with a running problem. Those who register receive an endless supply of beer, a catered meal from Corky’s, giveaways, and the peace of mind knowing you’re drinking for a cause — numerous local charities receive Red Dress Event grants from the event.

JULY 26-29. Faux Pas Lodge Rodeo. Venice. JULY 28-29. Marshland Festival. Lake Charles. JULY 29. Summer Fun Kids Day 2017. Houma. AUGUST 4. Firefighter Cancer Support Network Louisiana Benefit Concert. Lafayette. AUGUST 11. Bordeaux, Brie Et Bonnard. Lafayette.

Cajun Country

AUGUST 12. Yoga in the Galleries. Lafayette.

JULY 1. 27th Annual Lebeau Zydeco Festival. Lebeau.

AUGUST 17. Delcambre Shrimp Festival. Delcambre.

JULY 14. Bastille Day Fête. New Orleans.

AUGUST 19. Northshore Roller Derby Bout. Mandeville.

JULY 1. 11th Annual SWLA Patriot’s Ball. Lake Charles.

AUGUST 19. 2017 Games of Acadiana. Lafayette.

JULY 18-23. Tales of the Cocktail. New Orleans.

AUGUST 30. Southern Decadence. New Orleans.

JULY 1. Delcambre Seafood Farmers Market. Delcambre.

AUGUST 19. Arts & Crabs Fest 2017. Lake Charles.

62 Louisiana Life July/august 2017

AUGUST 20. MPCS Triathlon. Lafayette. AUGUST 31. Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival. Morgan City.

Central JULY 8. Destination Downtown Natchitoches. Natchitoches. JULY 14-15. 38th Natchitoches/NSU Folk Festival. Natchitoches. JULY 22. Destination Downtown Natchitoches. Natchitoches. AUGUST 11. Summer Kids World. Alexandria. AUGUST 12. Destination Downtown Natchitoches. Natchitoches. AUGUST 26. Destination Downtown Natchitoches. Natchitoches.

North JULY 10-16. US National Hot Air Balloon Competition. Shreveport. redriverballoonrally JULY 11. Summer Kids World. Alexandria. summer-kids-world-3 JULY 15. Shreveport Farmer’s Market. Shreveport. JULY 15. Ride For A Purpose. Alexandria. June 30 - JULY 3. Muddin for the Military at Muddy Bottoms. Sarepta. AUGUST 12. Grape Stomp Fest. Monroe. AUGUST 19. Shreveport Farmer’s Market. Shreveport. AUGUST 26. Grape Stomp Fest. Monroe.


Cajun Music and Food Festival. Head out to the Burton Coliseum July 14-15 to enjoy copious amounts of Cajun traditions ranging from food to music and dancing. The Cajun French Music Association has been preserving and promoting Cajun heritage for 30 years through their festivals. Lake Charles. July 14-15

38th Natchitoches/NSU Folk Festival. This year’s Folk Festival theme, “Keeping Tradition Alive!,” is focusing on artists young and old tapping into the traditions of the past, as they make them their own. Head to the annual Folk Festival to hear folk music, be awed by the regional crafts and be a part of the Louisiana State Fiddle Championship. Natchitoches. natchitoches. com/event/38th-annualnsu-folk-festival AUGUST19

Arts & Crabs Fest 2017. Participate in crab and beer tastings and enjoy local art displays at the 2017 Arts & Crabs Fest. The mission of the festival is to bring regional art, culture and food to the forefront of Acadiana. Proceeds collected from the event are reinvested into the Southwest Louisiana art community through the Arts Council. Lake Charles. August 30

Southern Decadence. Southern Decadence is the largest LGBT event in New Orleans, celebrating its 46th celebration this year. Enjoy the float parade, Bourbon Street Extravaganza and the walking parade in the weekend-long revelry on Bourbon Street. New Orleans.


a louisiana life

Tribal Legacy Marksville native works to keep TunicaBiloxi tribe’s language and traditions alive By Megan

Hill portrait By Romero & Romero

While most Louisianans

trace their ancestors’ arrival to the Gulf South via ship or airplane, John Barbry traces his across the Bering land bridge, the ancient connection thought to have been the conduit for the earliest populations that settled in the United States. Barbry, who hails from Marksville, is the director of development and programming for the Tunica-Biloxi tribe of central Louisiana. Barbry’s main project is a language and culture revitalization program he hopes will help his tribe’s heritage endure for current and future generations. Barbry remembers visiting his grandparents on the TunicaBiloxi reservation as a teenager, and recalls his grandmother singing songs in the Tunica language, but admits his appreciation wasn’t always as high then as it is now. After graduating college with a degree in music education, Barbry landed an internship at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, working in the American Indian sector. “As I was seeing how other tribes fit into modern life in America, I began to think about how the Tunica-Biloxi tribe fit into all of that,” he says. Next, he worked for an archaeology firm to catalog artifacts of the recently repatriated “Tunica Treasure,” a collection of 18th-century artifacts stolen from an ancestral gravesite in West Feliciana Parish in the 1960s. Stints at the Historic New 64 Louisiana Life July/august 2017

Orleans Collection and then at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York set Barbry up well to lead the charge in preserving his tribe’s heritage. He helped start the TunicaBiloxi Pow-Wow, which is celebrating its 22nd event and is now managing a Department of Education grant to assist struggling students. At a time when languages are disappearing, he’s implementing programs to help preserve and teach the Tunica language — which has no fluent speakers today — along with traditional crafts and sports. “There are a lot of subtleties in the language that you need to know to really understand the culture,” Barbry says. “In teaching other traditions, we always try to tie it back to the language to help it have more of a presence in the community.” n

Q&A Favorite Louisiana tradition? Cochon de lait au camp Best local restaurant? Big Daddy E’s Oyster Bar & Restaurant (at Paragon Casino Resort) Top weekend activity: Hanging at a friend’s camp on Old River at Mansura

Profile for Renaissance Publishing

Louisiana Life July-August 2017  

Louisiana Life July-August 2017  

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