Ciao from Louisiana, which we’ll be leaving this morning to drive back to Texas.
Eight to ten hours on the interstate, depending on traffic.
Thursday evening, we fly out from Dallas-Fort Worth to London Heathrow, then the final leg to Bologna, where I’m hoping there’ll be a glass of wine and a plate of pasta waiting for me!
Nota bene, Friday morning I’ll still be airborne (at least I hope so.)
So there may not be an article.
If I can, I’ll do it Thursday, before we leave.
But don’t hold your breath – it depends on the traffic on the interstate.
That said, if you’re itching for something to study over the weekend, just click the icons at the top of the club website.
Anyway, here’s today’s free material.
As usual lately, it’s a listening with a grammar focus.
You read the questions, listen a few times, check your answers with the solutions, then read the transcript:
So, where did I leave the Texas/Lousiana travelogue?
I believe I might have been moaning about the pizza we had on Sunday…
Monday though, I ate like a king, so that evened things up a bit.
Sofia wanted to do a Swamp Tour, as you do.
Heat, mosquitoes, sunburn, rip-off prices.
The place she’d found was booked up in the morning, the first available tour not being until nearly three in the afternoon.
That meant a late start, which was fine by me.
Coffe, air-conditioning, Internet!
Towards noon, we set off for the swamp, maybe thirty minutes out of the city.
As we knew we’d have plenty of time, we used Google Maps to find places to eat in Slidell, the nearest town.
The only place that was recommended was the Southside Cafe’.
When we got there, the place was packed!
The system in American restaurants seems to be to get your name on the list for a table as soon as you arrive.
But as we didn’t know that, we had even more time to stand around awkwardly admiring the military/veteran memorabilia on the walls and the AK47 over the bar.
Normally I would HATE waiting, but the place looked so busy and the plates of food whizzing past so intriguing, I didn’t consider leaving.
An elderly woman from the group in front of us asked where we were from.
Soon we were chatting about visiting Europe, the specialities of the house, Hurricane Katrina, and so on.
The restaurant had been destroyed by the flooding, apparently. They then rebuilt it, but it burnt down just before it was due to reopen.
Bad luck, or what? Read the full story on the final page of their menu, linked to here.
The page is slow to load but if you’re hungry, it’s worth the wait for the pictures and descriptions.
When we were eventually seated, I choose the ‘Irish Channel Gumbo’.
It’s at the bottom of page 2.
There’s a picture right above the description, but it doesn’t do it justice.
My meal was served on an enormous flat-ish soup dish, which was divided in two by a ‘levee‘ of potato salad.
On one side was the seafood gumbo, rich in prawns and fishy unmentionables.
I drained that swamp first.
Not expecting much, I turned to the other side of the plate – the chicken and sausage gumbo.
I cleaned that side of the plate too.
Meanwhile Sofia was enjoying the Spinach and Artichoke Dip (find it near the top of page 2, on the left).
Sadly, it was too much for her, so I helped.
And that was very, very nice as well.
While we had been waiting to be seated, the elderly lady had suggested the po’ boy sandwiches would be a good choice.
I asked her what they were (sandwiches) and how they came to be called ‘po’ boy’ sandwiches.
The story was, as best I remember, that in the great depression of the early nineteen-thirties, there was a famous restaurant in the French Quarter.
Hungry, unemployed men would come begging for a meal.
And the owner, being a kindly sort, would call out to his staff:
“Give that po’ (poor) boy a sandwich!”
After lunch, it was on to the Swamp Tour.
After standing around in the heat for a while, lamenting that we hadn’t brought any mosquito spray, we piled into a flat-bottomed boat along with twenty or so other people.
The boat had a powerful outboard engine, a roof to keep the sun off of us, and rails all around to protect us from swamp grass and alligators, which can jump, apparently.
And then, before we’d even got away from the shore, we saw an our first alligator!
It was just small, but there were many more after that, including one enormous animal called Brutus (he’s pictured on their website, eating a sausage.)
The guide stopped the boat several times to feed alligators and so make sure everyone had the chance to admire them and to take photos.
We whizzed up and down the river, which generated a nice cool breeze and exciting bangs as we crossed the wake of other boats, so as to get to places where we could see other animals: raccoons, turtles and wild pigs.
The guide had an impressive repertoire of jokes, but was also knowledgeable about the ecosystem and it’s inhabitants.
Two hours sped by, and we were soon climbing out of the boat again and heading for the souvenir shop and the car.
I hadn’t been bitten by mosquitoes, or burnt by the sun, and I was more than satisfied that we’d had our money’s worth.
So there: Cajun Encounters and the Southside Cafe’ in Slidell.
Both well worth a visit, once you’re done learning Italian.
In the evening, we weren’t really up to eating much.
But Google reported that everything was closing early for the holiday, so we forced ourselves to go out.
The motel recommended Sassafras, which is nearby (the place that we’d missed on Sunday.)
If you like reading Yelp comments, click the link above.
But basically, the food was fantastic, the service less so.
Both of the two waitresses looked as if they’d have been happier working in a mortuary.
It took ages to get served. At one point I had to ask three times for a glass of water.
Of course, there was no beer.
But what is it with this country?
There’s an epidemic of opiod abuse, but a po’ boy can’t get a glass of beer with his sandwich?
Nevertheless, the fried-catfish po’ boy was reasonably-priced, freshly-cooked and delicious.
More on venerdì, traffic-permitting, otherwise lunedì.