Mar 7, 2009

Zydeco Breakfast

Saturday, March 07, 2009
Abbeville, LA

Morning came early. By 3am I was awake and reading… probably not sleeping too soundly because we had alarms set, a real unusual occurrence around here. We had to be ready to leave the Bus-House by 6:30am and drive about 45 minutes to Cafe’ des Amis in Breaux Bridge. Everybody we talked to around here said we’ve got to go there for Saturday morning breakfast. So, off we went.

It was a pleasant morning for a drive — not much traffic, sunny skies. We arrived about 15 minutes early as they don’t even open the doors until 7:30am. So we took a walk around town.

The attraction at the Cafe’ is what they call Zydeco Breakfast. Zydeco is a musical style with it’s roots in Creole French but blended with Black influences that produce a sound that must be heard to be appreciated. The Cafe’, on Saturday mornings, serves breakfast while a Zydeco band plays and people dance. The bar is open too. And people flock from far and wide for the experience.

After our walk we were the first ones through the door. We ordered a big breakfast, large quantities of coffee, and watched as the band warmed up. Wow, what a sound. It was loud, amplified… and the instruments: the Cajun Acordion takes the lead, a fiddle, a couple guitars, drums, triangle, and washboard — they all blend to make a sound that I can’t describe — it’s got to be experienced. There’s a group of regulars… dancers that clearly don’t eat, ever… and dance almost every single dance burning thousands of calories per hour. Really! They’re very thin and very good. I found my eyes drawn to them. You had to watch. Great moves… Great memories.

Here’s a link to a video I took this morning. The sound quality is lousy but you’ll get the idea.

Yes, I actually danced a few times with Dar but I must confess I had no idea what I was doing. But with music like this how can it not be great fun? Dar, being the natural dancer in the family, caught on quickly. The calories in that egg omelet I had for breakfast were gone after a dance or two, and after that I was getting energy from stored belly fat. And, believe me, we didn’t look anything like the couple in the video.

By 11:00am we decided to leave and give others in line a chance to enjoy the morning. But I gotta tell ya’… I was beat. My body’s not used to loud music, dancing, eating, and drinking so early in the morning. I needed to go home and take a nap… and I almost never take naps.

We laid low for a few hours during the mid-day. But, alas, no nap today. About 4pm we were off again to another place that, once again, locals have told us we must experience — Touchet’s Bar French Cajun Jam Session. Just a few miles from Betty’s, we slipped ourselves into the tightly crowded establishment and the music was already rollin’. Musicians from all around come here and cycle themselves in and out of the jam session. There might be 8 people playing at a given point in time and as one drummer leaves another comes up to take his or her place. The Cajun Accordion player is always the key instrument in these groups and it seems like almost every time you look a new accordion player is leading the group.

A group of us from Betty’s found a corner of our own and we soaked in the scene. And, yes, we danced too. About 5:30pm, dinner is served… free of charge. Nothing fancy here. You’ve just got to go into the kitchen, grab a plastic plate and a fork, and help yourself to as much Chicken and Sausage Gumbo as you want. The only downside is that you’ve got to eat standing up as all four tables were taken. It was another slice of Cajun life here in Louisiana. And this song kept running through my head.

I don’t know if you remember the song… but with apologies to Don Williams…

Well, you get down the fiddle and you get down the bow,
Kick off your shoes and you throw ‘em on the floor.
Dance in the kitchen ’til the morning light:
Louisiana Saturday night.

That was our day. We were back at the Bus-House by 8pm and I’m writing the blog entry for the day while Dar sleeps. Tomorrow’s another big day of exploration. We’re taking a two hour swamp tour — alligators, snakes, bugs, and much, much, more.

A two hour cruise… gulp!

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