Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lily Learns about Cajuns

Hi Kids,
Since Miss Elaine and I are home for a couple of weeks, I'm going to try to catch you up on some of my travels.  In October, we toured Louisiana.  The church above, St. Martin de Tours, is very old -- about 178 years.  It's in the town of St. Martinville.  This place is very important to Americans of Acadian heritage.  In the mid-1700s, these French-speaking people were forced from their homes in Nova Scotia -- an area of Canada.  Since there were French settlements in the part of America we now call Louisiana, many of the Canadians made their way here.  We call them Cajuns -- sort of a sloppy way of saying Acadians. 

This is me with a statue of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow -- an important American poet.  Nearly 100 years after the Acadians first came to Louisiana, he wrote a poem called "Evangeline."  It tells the story of two Acadian sweethearts -- Evangeline and Gabriel -- who were separated when they left Nova Scotia for Louisiana.  It's a very sad poem -- and might be based on a true story.  

The story was so popular it was later made into a movie.  The beautiful actress who played Evangeline -- Dolores del Rio -- had this statue made and donated it to St. Martinville.

 This ancient oak tree is called the Evangeline Oak and stands on the banks of the Bayou Teche where many of the Acadians landed.
This is Miss Audrey Allen.  She owns a restaurant -- Chambeaugh's -- in St. Martinsville and she introduced me to a classic Cajun dish -- shrimp etouffee (pronounced ay-too-fay.  It has shrimp cooked with onions, peppers and celery and is served over rice.  I had some potato salad and green beans, too, but I'd eaten those before.  It was fun to try a new food and I liked etouffee a lot!

 While we were in St. Martinville we went to the Longfellow Evangeline State Historic Site.  This is a replica of a cabin which would have been built by Cajuns when they arrived here.  You'll notice the really steep roof.  They built their houses like that in Canada so the snow would slide off.  They soon learned that they didn't need to do that in Louisiana!
Sugar cane is an important crop in this area and the man who took us around the park cut a stem to show me.  It looks a little like bamboo and can grow very tall.
He cut off a chunk and peeled it so I could taste it.  It wasn't very sweet -- just a little -- and tasted a bit grassy.  It was stringy to chew so I just sucked the juice out and spit the rest out!  Lots of things have to be done to the cut cane before it turns into the sugar we have on our tables. 
 We passed lots of sugar cane fields on our trip.  This is one of them.  I just love to travel.  I learn so much -- and I meet so many nice people!
I'll write again soon.

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