Friday, May 20, 2011

In Old Louisiana

Do you know what the oldest town in Louisiana is? I would have guessed New Orleans. But that would have been before I visited Natchitoches. This lovely little town is almost 300 years old. With brick streets and lots of wrought iron, it kicks charm to a new level. It's like a tiny New Orleans without the drunks and naked ladies!

Jack and I are eating our way across Louisiana and made our first stop here. Our home away from home was the Jefferson Bed and Breakfast. Our hosts were Herman and Arlene Mayeaux -- turns out the Mayeauxs had lived in Oklahoma a few years ago and I had actually interviewed him at that time. Small world! Lush gardens surrounded the home and our room was well-appointed and comfortable. And you couldn't beat the view of the Cane River.

I'm an early riser so while Jack continued making zzzzs, I got out early with my camera. I think this is the oldest building on the main street. I don't have my notes with me, so if I'm wrong, I'll edit later. I loved all the lacy balconies.

The author who wrote Steel Magnolias is from Natchitoches and a lot of the movie was filmed here. This was M'Lynn's (Sally Field's character) house in the movie. Built in 1830, it's now a B&B.
Foodies who think Natchitoches think meat pies so we had to try some at Laysone's -- the premier pie producer not only in Natchitoches, but, arguably, anywhere. Their pies are all made by hand and Angela Laysone told us that one of the things that makes their pies unique is the crust. I've tried meat pies twice since then and so far she's absolutely right. One of the pies held the traditional beef/pork mix; the other was a crawfish pie. Laysone's has been featured in a number of the Stern's (of Road Food fame) books, the NY Times, Gourmet, Southern Living and now -- ta da -- this blog.

We were on a tight schedule so we didn't have time to explore the town at our leisure -- but we did stop at Ft. St. Jean Baptiste -- a recreation of the colonial fort established here. Costumed interpreters brought the site to life.

On the way out of town, we visited Oakland, a plantation built in 1803. The house has been enlarged over the years and members of the family lived here up into the 1950s. I loved the oak allee in front.

This area is noted for Creoles and Kate Chopin. The definition of "Creole" varies greatly -- to the point that you can almost take your pick. As for Kate Chopin -- there are probably several words for her. If you want to know what they are, buy my book, Remarkable Missouri Women, when it comes out in January!