Being Southern is truly something you are born and raised as. You can’t get rid of it as much as you try. It’s like a big ole’ birthmark. Even if you get it lasered off it will reappear with the sun, nervousness, or a few drinks. It can never be completely concealed.
With solid roots from Bayou La Batre, AL and my commercial fisherman family, I learned to cook Cajun, Creole, and Gulf Coast cuisine and I share that knowledge through classes that can be booked by clicking above. Daddy owned and captained the Sun Star, a 68 foot wooden shrimp boat built by Landry’s in Bayou La Batre. He sold his shrimp from Florida to Texas but mainly conducted business out of Golden Meadow and Delcambre, LA. These two places are where most of my food and fishing memories were created. From a shark hook incident in Golden Meadow to Delcambre’s Fleet Blessing, South Louisiana felt like our second home. We were even considered to be migrants in public school!
After moving to Boston and being here for 16 years, attempts to understand New England ways have been thwarted by my ever so persistent Southern roots. So I’ve decided to embrace my roots, celebrate them, and share them with others. That’s the main reason this website exists. It’s my way of sharing with readers my experiences shaped by the little patch of land I grew up in between New Orleans and Pensacola. So where in the hell am I from?
Bayou La Batre…. or The Bayou
Some people say, Bye-you la Ba-tree
Some people say, Bye-O la Ba-tree
Locals say Bye la Ba-Tree
First named Riviere D’Erbane after a crew member of explorer Bienville who drowned there in the early 1700’s, Bayou La Batre was the sight of an artillery battery that Bienville founded.
Or was it?
Others say Jean Lafitte needed a place to hide his treasure so he placed a battery on the Bayou.
Some say the Bayou was named after Jean la Batre who lived “Indian fashion” on the body of water in the early 1700’s. And then you have Jean Bayou, who in 1727 petitioned the Spanish Governor of Louisiana for a tract of land on the bayou.
Officially The Bayou was founded in 1786 by Joseph Bosarge, an Acadian.
Regardless of who founded what and where, the body of water and town (named the same) continues to be a place far away from anything else.
Before I drove off and began my life in Boston, I drove down to The Lake (Mississippi Sound) at the mouth of The Bayou and stood and watched the sunrise. The town had changed so much by then:
No more Red’s Drug Store with Cherry Coca-Cola and homemade milkshakes. Shambeau’s Country store was boarded up. My kindergarten building burned a few years prior and the memory of Sister Bernadette dwindled.
The Coden drive-in was falling down (pronounced co-din with accent equal on each vowel). The older bridge over the Bayou had been replaced with a Louisiana style lift bridge. People passed and ways of old did too.
No one knew Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill were coming either. When visiting I drive through town slowly picking up memories here and there. The great mix of Native American, French, Spanish, British, African, and Asian cultures still remain but the population has diminished greatly.
Still seafood based, the Bayou’s economy is suffering from imported seafood from Asia and South America, environmental disasters both natural and man made, disorganized local leadership, and poor educational opportunities for its citizens.
After the BP oil disaster my father docked his shrimp boat, The Sun Star, at the foot of the Bayou bridge and it sat there until a shrimper from Dulac, LA purchased it. Crossing the Bayou bridge and not seeing his boat ever again is a sad reality.
So with a full heart I invite you to my table in the best way I know how, through this website and my cooking classes.
Thank you for reading and your input is valuable. Check out recipes listed and try them.
Joe Roy Pendarvis
*Proud Member of The Southern Foodways Alliance and Bitter Southerner.