|I Can Smell the Tabasco, Already!|
Thursday, September 8thToday I checked out the Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory on Avery Island (home to the Avery family since 1818) south of Lafayette, about 90 miles southwest of Baton Rouge. Upon arriving at the small bridge to Avery Island, after making my way through the fields of sugar cane in the Louisiana countryside, I paid the $1 toll fee at the little white entrance station, followed the signs around a couple of curves, and was at the red brick Tabasco Factory in no time. As I pulled into the parking lot, the scent of the sauce wafted through the air, engulfing my nostrils with the smell of salty peppers. I was here - Tabasco land, where Tabasco fills the air! It's a good thing the same effect doesn't take place with passers-by at the Budweiser Factory; imagine the number of car accidents!
|So THAT'S What a Tabasco Fish Looks Like!|
Before starting the tour, I took a couple photos of the Tabasco Fish sculpture out front, and the information markers noting the geology of the island (Avery Island is actually a huge salt dome, which is actually mined and used in the aging and preservation process of the barrels of pepper sauce) and "Bird City," a bird sanctuary established around 1895 to save and repopulate the nearly wiped out Snowy Egret.
|If You Keep 'Em On Long Enough, They're Jalepeno Peppers|
Upon entering the small lobby area, I was greeted by a staff member who directed me to the theater, which had just started showing a short film about the history and making of the sauce. I learned that "the seeds are grown here, then sent to Latin America, where they are planted and grow into peppers. When those peppers are harvested, they’re shipped back to Avery Island for the next step in the process."
|Endorsed by Royalty!|
After the video ended, we all looked around for additional instruction for about 10 minutes so. I walked back into the little lobby, which was empty. We all continued sitting around, before the same staff member eventually came back and told us we were supposed to enter the factory via a set of doors she pointed to, unbeknownst to us.
|Yackety Yack Behind The Scenes|
The factory viewing area was quite small and anti-climaxing; a narrow hallway with one side all glass, looking into part of the factory, where there was less than a handful of workers just standing around gabbing, as the conveyor belts did the work. The hallway ended at another set of doors, that entered to a little museum area, with related interactive games, historical documents, and stuff like that. My favorite part of that was a model of the entire island, with automated narration and indicator lights, as the operations and areas of the island are explained.
|Nothing Like Tabasco Ice Cream on a Hot Day!|
Perhaps the most exciting part of the Tabasco experience (which was FREE by the way), was browsing through the Tabasco Country Store, a big gift shop of everything Tabasco, including GALLON-sized bottles, Limited Edition Tabasco Reserve (aged up to 8 years, instead of the standard 5, and "historically available only to family and close friends"), the standard hats and shirts, etc, and my favorite part - a free sample bar of their complete line of products (even two flavors of Tabasco ice cream).
|BRING ON THE HEAT!|
When I was done sampling every single product (there was at least 20 of them, lol), I left the island and headed to New Iberia, a pretty little town settled by the Spanish in 1779, just 9 miles away. After driving around a little (and an attempt at trying the crawfish pie at Victor's Cafe, which unfortunately was closed due to very limited hours), I spent some time at the library, catching up on emails and such.
|Mulate's, Very Tavern-esque|
On the way back to Baton Rouge, I stopped in Breaux Bridge, for dinner at historic Mulate's: "The Original Cajun Restaurant," where I snacked on my seafood platter, listened to the local band, and watched the older couples let loose on the dance floor.
As always, when I got back Joel's, we drank wine and watched Nip Tuck =)
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