Saturday, January 7, 2012

Friday January 6, 2012-Poche's Fish N Camp

We woke to another cool and damp morning here in Louisiana. We started again this morning with a small fire (running out of firewood!) and a nice breakfast. Bill and Ornell decided to go visit one of Ornell's cousins, so Stella and I took David and Susan over to Avery Island to visit the Tabasco plant. David and Susan live in New Iberia LA, and David made deliveries to the island, so the trip over was easy.

Here is the sign at the visitors center. The island was badly damaged by hurricane Rita in 2005 and the company surrounded the factory with a 17 foot levee to protect from future storms. Until recently all of the peppers were grown on Avery island but now peppers are grown in south and central America to prevent weather conditions or other problems from slowing or stopping production of the sauces. All of the seeds that are planted come from Avery island.

Here is a display of various bottles used to sell Tabasco sauce. The lady that led our tour said that Mr. Mcllhenny, the founder, walked around and found empty bottles for the first deliveries of the product. They adopted the bottle used today in the 1930's.

Here is a demonstration of a pepper-picker in action. It is impossible to see in this picture, but the picker is using a "little red stick -le petit baton rouge- to gauge the ripeness of the peppers. We were told that many grandmothers have been picking the peppers for most of their lives and that some times they bring their grand daughters with them to pick in the beginning of the season. She said the grandchildren only last one day but the grandmothers work the entire season. She told us that after the first day, the ladies soak their hands in milk to stop the burning, the second day they use aloe vera oil but by the third day, their hands are accustomed to the peppers and nothing else is needed.

Here is the floor of the factory where the pepper sauce is produced. The peppers are picked and on the same day as picking, they are ground into a mash and lightly salted and placed into a wooden barrel that was once used to age whiskey. The top of the barrel is covered with salt that is also mined on the island. After aging the pepper mash mixture for up to three years, it is removed and vinegar added and the result is the familiar Tabasco sauce.

Here is a display of some of the products made here. There is a Sweet and Spicy sauce, the familiar red and green sauces, a garlic flavored sauce, Chipotle sauce which is hotter than the standard sauces but the hottest is the Habanero sauce. They now offer salt flavored with the peppers, mustard and mayonnaise, barbecue sauce and now even ice cream. The ice cream is sold in a liquid form and frozen by the consumer. We actually tried the ice cream in the visitors center but didn't like it enough to buy any. I'm sure it can be ordered from the company.

On the way back to Poche's, we went by the Evangeline landing where many native Acadians originally landed in Louisiana. David and Susan said their ancestors were among them. David also gave us some information on the Cajun dialect of the French language spoken here.

This is a very interesting tour and very inexpensive. If you are in the area, it is well worth going to. It was special for us because of David and Susan, both native Louisianans and both very Cajun. We thank them for the tour of the area.

So long.

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