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Tabasco(R) and Turducken in Louisiana

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By Wayne Lazarus on November 13th, 2009

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

Just two and a half hours from New Orleans and four hours from Houston, you can absorb a little Cajun culture by visiting Avery Island, home of Tabasco (R) sauce. The island is an ancient salt dome, yet it is home to a lush, semi-tropical wilderness. Here Edmund McIlhenny first planted peppers and experimented with sauce. His son, “Ned” sought to save the egrets back in the 1890′s, and created Bird City around the birds’ nesting grounds. He also added to the marsh beauty of the island by planting varieties of azaleas, camellias and bamboo. The 250-acre garden became known as Jungle Gardens. Both are open for tours.CountryStoreMT-1

Amid the flowers and Spanish moss, you can tour the Tabasco (R) factory. The peppers used in the sauce have been grown on this island since just after the Civil War. (Due to space, additional fields in Latin America are now planted with seeds of peppers grown on Avery Island.) The ripest peppers are mashed (the day they are picked) and then spend three years aging in oak barrels topped with Avery Island salt. You can pick up samples, recipes and of course, Tabasco (R) products in the country store. There’s a $1 toll to get on the island, no charge for the factory tour and $6.50 admission to Jungle Gardens.BottlesRedOnLine

If all that hot sauce has you drooling for more Cajun food, you’re just 45 minutes from the famous turducken. A traditional Louisiana Thanksgiving entree — turducken isĀ  turkey, stuffed with a boneless duck which has been stuffed with a boneless chicken. Often dressing or sausage is pressed between the layers. Hebert’s Specialty Meats, 8212 Maurice Ave. in Maurice (8 miles south of LaFayette) is so famous for its turducken that the little town has been nicknamed Turducken Town. Here you can watch the specialty being assembled, and fill your cooler with boudin, crawfish pie, stuffed shrimp, andouille and other Cajun meat specialties. Use www. to make your reservations in LaFayette or New Iberia. jalapeno+ckn+turd+etd

(Photos of Tabasco (R) courtesy the McIlhenny Company, turducken courtesy Hebert’s Specialty Meats. All used with permission.)

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