9th Ward Daily Photo via rl reeves jr

Caouanne is Cajun French for a snapping turtle, and as y’all know if we can corrupt a word in New Orleans we’ll do it all day long.

I reckon that’s how we got Cowan as the local derivation for a particular kind of eating turtle.

When I was a kid and was lucky enough to wrest a turtle out of a ditch I’d take it straight to Cal Smith, an octogenarian farmer who’d pay me a dollar for my catch. He’d dispatch the creature with a shot from a big nickle plated revolver that he carried on his hip.

His wife Mattie was consigned to cleaning the trophy.

I never ate any.

Not until daddy started taking us to Kolb’s in downtown New Orleans when my sister and I were young. They had a turtle soup that could beat the band. I don’t remember if we had to be tricked into eating it or not.

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