Bin Yay and Boo Dan
by: Eddie Trapp
Last week I told of us traveling toward Mobile, Alabama in search of Galveston type surf fishing. Near Biloxi along the beach we passed Beauvoir, post war home of Confederate president, Jeff Davis. No places were found where we could back our pickup to the edge of the water as in Texas. One man at a tackle shop in Bayou La Batrey told us vehicles were not allowed on beaches anywhere in Alabama. As we left the tackle shop we noticed a front license plate “GRITS-Girls raised in the South.” After driving out on Dauphin Island we returned to Mobile and found a room for the night.
Giving up on “our kind of fishing” in Alabama and Mississippi we left Mobile heading for Galveston at 8:00 Tuesday morning. As far as we could tell, in Mississippi and Alabama you got to either fish from a pier where Zack would not be allowed, go offshore, or park in a parking lot then walk over a hundred yards carrying all your gear. In southwest Louisiana we stopped at a nice rest area with many interesting items. One brochure told the main differences in Cajuns and Creoles.
Some of the things identifying Cajuns are they came from Canada after being run out by the English in 1755. Traditionally speak French. Live primarily in twenty two parishes in south Louisiana. Several kinds of food cooked in one pot. No tomatoes used. Few creamy, buttery sauces.
Creoles have more sophisticated, New Orleans type cuisine with a mixture of French, Spanish, Italian, and African styles. Use tomatoes but not roux. More buttery and creamy sauces.
Also available at the rest area was a brochure showing pronunciation and definitions: Acadiana (uh k dee ann uh) – the 22 parishes of mostly French speaking region. Andouille (ahn doo wee) – spicy, garlic seasoned, pork sausage. Atchafalaya (uh chaff uh lie uh) – south central Louisiana river flowing to the Gulf. Choctaw word for long river. Bateau (baa toe) – small rowboat. Traditionally pointed at both ends.
Beignet (bin yay) - light square donut usually sprinkled with sugar. Bisque (bisk) – thick creamy soup made with shellfish. Boudin (boo dan) – spicy Cajun sausage containing rice and ground pork. Etouffee (ay two fay) – thick and creamy shellfish stew served over rice. Fais do do (fay doh doh) – Cajun dance party. Usually after kids have gone to bed. French for “go to sleep.” File’ (fee lay) – dried sassafras leaf powder used in gumbo as a thickener. Gumbo – stew or soup made with chicken or seafood, onions, celery, bell pepper (the trinity) and okra.
Jambalaya (jum buh lie ah) – well seasoned mixture of rice and meat cooked in one pot. King cake – circular yeast cake decorated with purple, yellow, and green sugars and containing a small, plastic baby. Served in Mardi gras season. The person getting the baby provides the next king cake. Lagniappe (lan yap) – a little something extra. Laissez les bons temps rouler (lay zay lay bawn tawmp roo lay) – Let the good times roll. Pirogue (pee row) – small flat bottomed, narrow boat traditionally made of a hollowed out cypress tree. Roux (roo) – mixture of equal parts of oil and flour heated slowly until chocolate brown. Many recipes begin with, “First you make a roux.” The Trinity – onion, bell pepper, and celery that serve as the base for gumbos, jambalayas, etouffees, sauces, soups, and stews. Zydeco (zy dee coh) – lively music combining French dance melodies, Caribbean music, and the blues. Played by small bands using guitar, accordion, and a washboard.
Driving on west on Interstate 10 we turned south at Winnie and arrived on the beach at High Island at 3:30. The water was smooth as glass and we hurried to catch mullet or shad for bait. After wading out knee deep I cast my net and caught so many shad I almost couldn’t lift it. Pelicans, gulls, and terns were very thick and feeding on the shad. We caught redfish, sharks, and catfish using shad for bait. Spent the night at High Island in a nice, clean RV park. The owner has three travel trailers he rents out at a reasonable price. That kept us from having to pay more and travel more to go to Winnie or Beaumont. Saved gasoline and valuable fishing time.
Our sleeping place was five minutes from the beach and Wednesday morning we were anxious to resume fishing, casting out our lines before sun up. A man and his boy stopped to show us two large redfish and a speckled trout. For bait recommended a soft plastic DOA lure and hard plastic She Dog. Today would be the longest we ever fished, from before sun up until 5:00. Again we caught a variety of fish then suppered in a nice seafood place in Winnie. Next week, fishing from a kayak near the ship channel.
Recently I was grabbling in South Sulphur River and as I moved slowly downriver Zack prowled the banks. He swims from one bank to the other sometimes, searching for snakes and beavers. A small box elder tree leaned over the river and some of the limbs were down in the water. As I got near the tree I heard a strange noise every few seconds. Sounded like a frog but it was not its normal call. Sometime years ago I had heard that noise and suddenly remembered that’s the noise a frog makes when a snake has caught it. It was a pitiful, begging sound. I crawled under the tree, squeezing my way between the limbs and soon saw a three foot long cottonmouth holding a southern leopard frog by its back. Apparently the snake had not used its venom since the frog seemed okay as the snake tried to work it around to swallow it head first.
If we look at Abraham Lincoln before his presidency we find a witty and amusing person. In those days many people visited taverns for fun, food, and lodging. Arriving at a tavern after dark one damp, chilly night he could not sit close to the fire since there were so many people. He asked the innkeeper to take his horse a peck of catfish. The innkeeper argued the horse would not eat catfish but Lincoln insisted. The catfish were carried out and half the crowd followed to witness the sight. When they returned, Lincoln was sitting warm by the fire.