The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

It's a Hot Time on Avery Island

Monday morning Birdie and I headed back west again. Our first stop was just down the road on I-10....the Atchafalaya Rest Stop. If you are traveling I-10 east or west, this is a great place to stop. For one thing, they have a section that is just for RVs......completely separate from the semi-truck parking which makes it really nice if you want to spend the night. Cars have their own lot too. Of course, you will always run into the odd idiot who thinks they have to park their car in the RV area but you can't fix stupid, right? Anyway, there are quite a few spaces.

Then you get to the very nice welcome building.

They have all kinds of things to look at.....just like a small museum.

They even have a short movie presentation about the Atchafalaya Swamp and, of course, all the information pamphlets you could ever hope to need.

It didn't take us too long to get to Abbyville which was our next stop. We were heading to Betty's RV Park which many RVers know about but more about that later. Martha came up to visit us at Betty's and we went downtown to a music event in the park. It was great....lots of people enjoying it. One guy was especially entertaining.....not sure if he was inebriated, different stroke for different folks or what but his dancing with or without a partner was hilarious, very exaggerated movements and facial expressions. I think every woman there held their breath every time he looked around for a dance partner.

The next morning, Martha came to pick us up and we headed south towards New Iberia.

We were on our way to Avery Island, the home of McIlhenny Tobasco Sauce. There is a $1 toll to cross to the island. The McIlhenny's started making Tobasco pepper sauce in 1868 and the company is still family owned.
Edmund McIlhenny, a food lover and avid gardener, was given seeds of Capsicum Frutenscens peppers from Mexico or Central America. He planted the seeds and loved the spicy flavor of the peppers they produced. After the civil war, food in the south was very bland so he began picking the reddest of his peppers, mixing them with Avery Island salt and aged the mash for 30 days. Then he mixed the mash with French vinegar and aged it again for 30 days. He bottled it in old perfume bottles with sprinkler tops and sealed it with wax. He gave some bottles away and then sold it at local grocery stores for $1 a bottle.

Other than the fact that the aging process for the mash is much longer, up to three years in white oak barrels and high quality distilled vinegar is now used, the process is much the same over 140 years later.

The Tabasco sauce is bottled and labeled in 22 different languages and sold in over 180 countries. It is even included in soldiers rations. It is so well-known that all pepper sauce is called tobacco.

We were invited to join a 1965 class reunion for their tour.

The bottles we saw being bottled and labeled were in Japanese.

The white stuff on the top of the barrels is salt which hardens like concrete while the sauce is being aged.

Expansion is underway which will make a visit to the bottling plant even better. Over half of the 200 employees actually live on Avery Island and are later generations of the first employees.

On to the store where samples are available. Ever try Raspberry Chipolte Ice Cream or how about Jalepena Ice Cream or numerous kinds of specially flavored sauce.

It's a very colorful place. Needless to say, we all picked up a few items.
Just as we were ready to head out to see the other sites like the Jungle gardens and Bird Sanctuary, Martha got a call. Her husband fell and she had to head out to tae him to the hospital. He is a stubborn one just like mine. He is 88 and still rides his cutting horse every day. Not on the horse this time but he had two broken ribs. The next day, he was on the can't keep Harold down.

1 comment:

  1. We enjoyed Avery Island, but even more so that amazing visitor center at the Atchafalaya Rest Stop. When we were there it was in the midst of construction, but it was so wonderful it made me want to go back and explore so much more of that area.


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