Thursday, January 30, 2014

How does one fight the winter blues in Louisiana?

     All you have to do is wait. Within days the temperatures return to a balmy goodness and all is right in the world. 
     Take the past two weeks as an example. We had a treacherous ice storm blow through, closing the city and schools. Two days later it was sunny and warm and folks were out and about enjoying the nice weather. The next week the same thing happened. (You might have seen the “frozen South” on the news lately).
     But guess what? Temperatures are quickly pulling up, the ice is thawing and the weekend looks to reach close to 70 degrees. Now we’re talking!
     So here’s how we deal with winter weather in Louisiana.
  • Enjoy the Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 1, and visit the mobile museum fashioned out of a vintage Airstream trailer, created by University of Louisiana’s public history program (read our blog post here), plus listen to local musicians Christine Balfa and Ryan Brunet perform from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • Attend the Gourmet Food Truck Round-up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at Parc Lafayette, enjoy great eats and listen to La Recolte perform (shown above; their music from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. is called "Cabin Fever Relief 2014).
  • If you’re still scared about being outside, the Paul & Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum has new spring exhibits on display (reception 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31), the Christian Youth Theatre presents “Tarzan” at Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 1-2, at UL’s Angelle Hall and UL Women’s and Men’s Basketball play Sunday night, Feb. 2, in the Cajundome.
     So, now do you get it? Winter doesn’t last long here, if it comes at all. By the end of February our flowers should be peeking out with azaleas showing their brilliant colors in early March — just in time for Mardi Gras, which is late this year and you know what that means? Probably warm and sunny parades!

     Why aren’t you here?

Monday, January 27, 2014

History in an Airstream coming to a venue near you!

     One can say history is a living, breathing study, always changing as time marches on. At the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, history travels as well. In a vintage Airstream trailer to be exact.
     It’s all part of the school’s Department of History, Geography and Philosophy’s Public History program. Called “Museum on the Move,” the Airstream contains an exhibit that travels, bringing history to the public. This year’s exhibit is “Crossing the Line: Louisiana Women in a Century of Change.” 
     The mobile museum will visit the Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market from 8 a.m. to noon this Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, the perfect opportunity for the public to check out this innovative history lesson. 
     “The project creates a unique opportunity for our students to take history out of the classroom and share it with the public,” said Dr. Robert Carriker, department head.
Also at the Market this week, Master Gardener MaryAnn Armbruster will lead a workshop at 10 a.m. about how to turn kitchen and yard waste into nutrient-rich compost for lawns and gardens. Local musicians Christine Balfa and Ryan Brunet will lead this Saturday’s Cajun jam, which takes place at the Market each week from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.  
     And lest you whine that it’s too cold to brave the elements at a farmers market, the forecast calls for a high around 70 degrees this Saturday!
     The Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market at The Horse Farm is a venue for seasonal, farm-based products and artisanal creations, offered by local producers, artists and vendors. The Market is open from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday, rain or shine. For more information, visit

Friday, January 17, 2014

Louisiana's 'Reel Festival' returns this month

     The ninth annual Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival — Louisiana’s “Reel Festival” — begins Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, with the Louisiana premiere of Phil Comeau’s documentary “Secretariat’s Jockey, Ron Turcotte” at 6:30 p.m. at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in downtown Lafayette. 
"Secretariat's Jockey, Ron Turcotte"
     The Festival concludes Sunday, Jan. 26, at the AcA with the Louisiana premiere of “This Ain’t No Mouse Music!,” an award-winning film by Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling on the story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records. The film features musicians Mance Lipscomb, Treme Brass Band, Michael Doucet, Pine Leaf Boys, Taj Mahal, Clifton Chenier, Lightnin' Hopkins and the Savoy Family Band. Following the screening, Ann Savoy and Friends with Michael Doucet will perform.
     In between those two events there will be dozens of films screened at the festival, including world, U.S. and Louisiana premieres, plus music performances by Bas Clas, The Blues Conundrum Blues Band and the Drew Landry Band. The Festival will include screenings of Comeau’s “The Nature of Frédéric Back,” who was an Academy Award-winning animated short filmmaker, and “The Numberlys,” the latest film from Academy Award-winning Moonbot Studios in Shreveport. 
"The Numberlys"
     Festival venues will be throughout Lafayette, including the Acadiana Center for the Arts, Vermilionville, the Lafayette Parish South Regional Branch Library, Pack and Paddle and Cité des Arts. Some offer themes, such as Vermilionville sponsoring a two-night Francophone film series and Cité des Arts screening the world premiere of “The Restoration” along with a performance by Drew Landry, the filmmaker, and his band. 
     All screenings at the Lafayette Parish South Regional Branch Library and Pack and Paddle are free. Tickets for screenings at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, Vermilionville and Cité des Arts can be purchased through those venues and at the door. Tickets for the opening night gala, including film and reception, are $10 per person and will be available for purchase in January at the Acadiana Center for the Arts. 

     For more information, visit

Friday, January 10, 2014

King Cakes vital part of Carnival season

     You’ll see them everywhere when you visit Lafayette for Mardi Gras. They’re sugary sweet, full of wonderful surprises — including a plastic baby — and are synonymous with the Carnival season.
     King Cakes are linked to French traditions surrounding the Twelfth Night of Christmas, or Jan. 6, when the Magi visited the Christ Child with gifts. The king cake isn’t relegated to just France and Louisiana, but our tri-colored cake dates back to Louisiana’s mother country of France. Naturally, being the adventurous Louisiana, we have enhanced the dessert quite a bit.
     The French gateau de roi is much simpler, but with a surprise inside as well (you can find an example at Poupart’s French bakery in Lafayette). The person who receives the special bean, token or baby inside becomes the queen or king for the day. 
     In Louisiana, we begin king cake enjoyment on Jan. 6 and continue through the Carnival Season all the way to Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday when this sort of decadence is supposed to stop, at least if you’re Catholic. Also, our cakes run the gamut, most commonly an oval shaped dough stuffed with fillings that’s topped with icing and sugar sprinkles in the Carnival colors of purple, green and gold. 
     Louisiana tradition has it that whoever receives the baby in their king cake must buy the next one — and so it goes for weeks on end. You can imagine that all those good intentions of losing weight after the holidays get thrown out the window during Carnival.
     Like most culinary treats, king cakes have evolved. We now have fried king cakes, king cake cupcakes, king cake bread pudding, king cake fries and king cake cocktails, to name a few. There’s even a humorous Facebook page titled King Cake Baby. 
     To see what Lafayette has to offer, visit The King Caker web site, which reviews king cake establishments. To read last year’s blog on king cakes with references to local king cake makers, visit the King Cake blog 2013.