Massive oaks are not the only mighty giants that emerged along the scenic Cane River in Louisiana North. A slave’s daughter, Clementine Hunter first picked up oils at the age of 54 while cleaning the artists’ residence. Her artistic legacy depicts plantation life in vivid color. Upstairs in the African House at Melrose Plantation is a collection of her folk art reflecting keen details in her self-expression. The Baptism Mural tells her daughter’s story. The artist painted until the age of 102. See for yourself or in Clementine Hunter: The African House Murals, a book of these unique treasures.
Angela Lasyone’s crescent-shaped meat pies are so mouth-wateringly delicious you’ll want to book a flight to Natchitoches (pronounced “NAK-ə-təsh”) before you finish reading. Her father created the pies and she’s grown the business, tweaked the soulful Louisiana Creole recipes and become a fixture here. Flaky-crusted, saucy with 80% beef and 20% pork, or crawfish tails, and no rice, you’ll be glad you did. Fortunately, she now has on-line ordering and distribution. Catch her and those pies while you can- Lasyone’s will be joining the D.C. Mardi Gras in 2014. Then everyone will know!
What to do with all those festival beads? Stephan Wanger’s Natchitoches Legacy Art Project is art with benefits. Unveiled 7/24/13, in celebration of 300 years, the project is expected to generate billions for children of Natchitoches who graduate high school or college here in 25 years. Residents and visitors are encouraged to add dimension to an 8’ x 48’ mural of this fine city founded in the winter of 1713-14. Over two million recycled beads are to be utilized. The real stars are the volunteers, all ages, sorting beads or armed with glue guns, some with babes in arms at the Northwestern State University campus workshop. In the style of post-Impressionistic pointillism, it’s already stunning, and it’s only one part of the overall project.
Just when we thought we’d already eaten our way through Louisiana North, Carolyn welcomed us inside for cooking class back in Shreveport. As the wine flowed, she applied our aprons and hats and distributed printed recipes. An ambitious menu at Blue Southern Comfort Foods featured grilled chicken, Tasso pork and smoked sausage gumbo, cheesy grits, blackened catfish with Cajun remoulade, creamy Creole coleslaw, and cinnamon bread pudding.
In an evolving feast, nine of us enjoyed hands-on participation at assigned stations with aromatic and lovingly prepared mise en place. Our senses picqued, the self-taught, dancing chef and her Bill infected us with creativity and laughter that unforgettable, intimate evening. Amazing how food can bring us together!
Last, but not least: AJ wails. New recipient of the 2013 Louisiana Music Award, she entertained with her Billie Holiday-esque style as we cooked and ate.
We will be pleased to hear more from her.
Additional links: http://www.aphnatchitoches.net; Lasyones.com; The Natchitoches Legacy Art Project: for information or sponsorship, see Stephan@galeriaalegria.com;
Blue Southern Comfort Foods: https://www.facebook.com/carolynscateringservices