We were denied entry to Our Lady Of Lourdes Church this past weekend in Violet, Louisiana. This marks the first time in our rich history with the Catholic church that we were barred from entering a place of worship.
It had to happen eventually.
And we did give it a good effort but the police officers stationed outside weren’t budging.
No matter, we’re here for oysters, fried hot and stuffed into a Leidenheimer loaf preferably.
The Violet Oyster Festival got its start back in 1984. Back then St Bernard Parish had some 67k residents but as population patterns shifted ‘da parish’ has now shrunk to some 44k souls.
But St. Bernard is growing. Between 2010 and 2014, the parish saw 8,512 newly minted residents put down stakes, and with good reason. It’s lovely out there, and the folks could not be any nicer. We’ve always wondered how it was Metairie that saw stark rises in populace instead of Chalmette.
Walking onto the grounds we’re immediately struck by a big sign announcing ‘no gang related attire allowed on grounds.’
We’ve left our beloved Kangol hat at home as well as the fat, gold-plated donkey ropes we normally wear so we arouse little suspicion from the police officers that give us a brief up and down upon entry.
A makeshift food court has been set up and we take a quick tour ’round through it to determine what’s on offer and to form an attack plan.
We are absolutely starving so we get down to brass tacks immediately and, after affirming that they’re serving good bread (Leidenheimer) order a $12 oyster po boy.
Everything is cooked per order (unlike when we got rick-rolled out in Des Allemands at the catfish festival )
After a 10 minute wait, one of the counter-gals bellows our number and we quickly retire to a nearby feeding tent to get down to business. 16 small oysters have been flash-fried in peanut oil and served with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and pickle as accoutrement.
Our standard bearer for fried oysters is Casamento’s where they’ve been cooking the bivalves in hog lard since 1919. Are these oysters as good? Not even close but they are a nice batch, albeitly small they are properly cooked-had they been more aggressively seasoned the po boy could’ve been one of the top sandwiches in our 500 Po Boys series.
We reconnoiter about for a few minutes before spotting a raw oyster shucking tent where eight shuckers are furiously cracking shells and gossiping among themselves. A counter-girl eventually appears, takes an order from a patron, then vanishes. We wait patiently as more people begin filing into the tent but at the 15 minute mark we finally realize that we’re not going to be eating any raw oysters in Violet today.
We make our way to the sweet treats tent, ask the lady what her favorite dessert is and smile when she returns with a good-sized pecan log. At $2 this is the best value at the entire festival, a sentiment confirmed when we return home and sample the delicacy. A skilled pâtissier’s hand is at play here. The velvety praline-like outer quickly gives way to a creamy, confectioner sugar-based inner that would send a diabetic straight to the graveyard.
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This was our first Violet Oyster Festival. We leave with the sun still high in the sky, well before the locals take to the concrete dance floor to grind it out to slo-soul from Rosalyn Candy. We roll out of Violet listening to Big City After Dark by Link Wray on WWOZ. Perfect timing as we prepare for a Saturday night in New Orleans.