A Nostalgic Visit to Lafayette, Louisiana
I’ve been to Lafayette, Louisiana dozens of times…only I haven’t really been there. It’s 25 minutes from the tiny town of Church Point, where my grandmother, aunt and uncle, and cousins live, so Lafayette is where I and my family stay when visiting them. However, I’d never really explored the town…until recently.
My mother went to what is now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and she hadn’t really been to the town since she graduated…well, a long time ago. So we planned a mini trip together.
Getting Our Cajun On
We’re Cajun. I could go into the whole history and culture of what that means, but I’ll let you read about that elsewhere. For me, visiting Louisiana is the opportunity to eat Cajun food, which is rare in Southern California.
So we did that. We at etouffee. Po boys. Crawfish. More crawfish. Crab legs. Oysters (well, the one of us who isn’t allergic ate those).
Then we visited Vermilionville, a living history museum of Cajun culture. There are a dozen or so buildings built in the style of Acadiana (that part of Louisiana) circa 1800s. Employees are dressed up in period costumes and are well-versed in the history. I’d been as a belligerent teen, but now I learned so much!
Walk Down Memory Lane
The next day, we headed to downtown Lafayette for a little retail therapy.
“We used to go to the movie theater here, but I don’t recognize anything,” Mom mused. She’d been giddy as a college girl on the ride downtown, pointing out streets and restaurants that were still there.
After hitting a few stores like Parish Ink (I fell in love with the Cajun-themed t-shirts) and having an amazing iced coffee with coconut water (who’d have thunk?) at Carpe Diem!, Mom said that Borden’s, an old-school ice cream parlor, was just around the corner.
Every happy to make my mother smile, I suggested we see if it was still there. It was…but just before we got there, she spied Keller’s Bakery.
“I can’t believe Keller’s is still here! We used to get cream puffs here!”
I’d never seen her so excited. So we went in and bought an assortment of petit fours (tiny adorable cake squares) and fig bars (meh). She asked, but they were out of their famous cream puffs.
“Ya’ll can just call when you know you’re comin’ in and we’ll set some aside for ya,” said the girl behind the counter. Mom made a mental note to do just that the next time she came to visit her family.
On to Borden’s Ice Cream Shoppe. There used to be more of these in the country (not sure if they were in all parts, or just the South) but this is the last remaining ice cream parlor. She got a scoop of pralines and cream and I had a vanilla cone dipped in Gold Brick chocolate. You’ve probably never experienced Gold Brick. It’s a Southern thing. I used to get egg-shaped chocolate of the stuff at Easter. It’s got its own flavor, and only by just now researching did I discover that it’s got bits of pecans in it. Thanks, Internets. Anyway, the cone was magical and we were both delighted by the experience.
Oh Yea, and Seeing Family Rocked, Too
Not to downplay the biggest part of our trip: seeing family! My grandmother turns 98 this year, and she’s a marvel. I don’t get to see her often, so it’s always a treat when I do. We visited with her and my Uncle Donnie at the nursing home, then had an amazing crawfish dinner with Aunt Claire and Uncle Donald, Cousin Courtney and her family. A good time was had by all.
Despite having not appreciated my Cajun roots as a child, I certainly do now. It was wonderful to see my mother light up as she crossed paths with her younger self.