Only in the Bayou State do Louisianans travel door to door on horseback collecting gumbo ingredients for Mardi Gras gatherings. Residents compete in egg pâquer contests to see who can crack their opponent's Easter egg first. Louisiana is a place where frequent collisions with natural disasters can inspire a drink like Pat O'Brien's famous hurricane. And the state's history is filled with colorful figures like Governor Earl K. Long, whose wife committed him to a mental institution--only for him to use his political pull to inspire his own release. Elsewhere these accounts may seem odd or farfetched, but it all happens in Louisiana. Join author Sam Irwin as he details these intriguing Pelican State stories with pithy observations, humorous asides and droll determinations.
On Good Friday five years ago, I was sitting in the deep shade on a picnic blanket in the yard of my good friend Greg Guirard, a celebrated swamp photographer who also is a crawfisherman, writer, environmental crusader, salvager of sinker cypress and host of Pie Day in the Henderson, Louisiana area. A throng of friends had contributed pies to his annual affair—sweet pies, crawfish pies, fruit pies—anything but meat pies since meat is forbidden until nightfall on Good Friday. Pie Day is a centuries-old Catholic tradition that has been forgotten in France and nearly forgotten in Louisiana.
Greg, who is not religious, keeps it up because his late mother used to host a local Pie Day. He can’t bear to see the tradition die.
I think that is why Sam Irwin is writing here with such eloquence and authority. He experienced all these things, and he doesn’t want to see them die. As developers divide up the sugarcane fields, as Cajun French disappears with the younger generations, as places that used to be hard to get to become accessible, Sam doesn’t want to see something good die.
I once had a home near little Amy’s (pronounced Ah-me) Grocery in workaday Henderson. By the time I lived in Henderson, Amy’s had been reduced to mostly beer and cigarettes. But once it was a real grocery store in a town that knows its groceries and was owned by Sam’s grandfather. His family members also were pioneers in the crawfish industry. Sam Irwin is what I call bona fide.