Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Adding Some Spice to Our Life - on Avery Island

With one week still to go in our New Orleans holiday, I was beginning to panic. I still wanted to see and experience as much as possible in this incredible city. With that in mind we made our way to Avery Island on New Year’s Day.

Avery Island is west of New Orleans and is home to the famous Tabasco Sauce that can be found all around the world. Avery Island is a saltdome and the salt mined on the island is also used in the making of the famous hot sauce. Being lovers of anything spicy, we felt this trip was a must-do.

We arrived in the afternoon and hurried over to the plant for our ‘tour’. Being a holiday the plant wasn’t working but we were given 4 small bottles of Tabasco sauce and ushered into a small amphitheater to watch a short film on the origins of Tabasco Sauce. It was an interesting film and I learned about the peppers and Avery Island as well from that film. From there we walked down a corridor that had one wall of windows that overlooked the manufacturing area. And that was it. In 10 minutes our ‘tour’ was over and we were free to browse the Tabasco Country Store.

We’ve taken many tours over our years of traveling and this had to be the most disappointing one we have ever had. Maybe there’s not much to making Tabasco sauce except for the long brewing period where nothing much happens – but we were very disappointed. Workday or not it would have been the same and I can almost recommend skipping this part and going directly to their country store. That was where all the good stuff is.

The old country store was stuffed from floor to rafters with everything Tabasco. From shirts to ties and every type of clothing you can imagine – to golf balls and toys and finally to food. Every single thing has the famous McIlhenny Tabasco label on it and some of it is quite appealing.

It’s the Tabasco flavored ice-cream that’s a real treat though and we tasted that and the pickles and sauces they had flavored. We spent a good hour shopping in their store and left weighed down with a couple of bags of goodies that we couldn’t go without.

Even though the Tabasco plant is what Avery Island is mostly about – it’s the bird sanctuary and surrounding acres of natural habitat and wildlife refuge that stood out for us. Ned McIlhenny started Bird City to save Egrets from extinction in the 1800’s when their beautiful white plumage was used for women’s hats.

The sun was just beginning to make its descent when we started our drive around this beautiful section of the island. We were astounded by the bayous that surrounded the island and by the traffic signs we could see nestled out in the waterways in the grasses. We wondered how anyone could find their way around these watery pathways in their boats without getting lost.







It took us over an hour to make the drive around the island. We stopped at the giant Buddha that sat overlooking a lake and swatted at the mosquitos as they found my bare legs and sandaled feet. Of course it wasn’t the time of the year for the Egrets but we still walked down to the nesting platforms and had a look around just before the light gave up for the night.


I have made no bones about the fact that I am terrified of snakes. Bless The Man for walking ahead of me and stomping the ground – without asking – to scare away the snakes. Does that man know me or what?

As we drove the 140 miles back to New Orleans, I was amazed by the oil refineries that lined the coast. You hear about them but you never imagine just how many platforms there are out in the Gulf of Mexico pumping their oil into the United States. Their lights glittered against the dark sky as billows of steam and smoke drifted across the water. I tried to imagine what this coast looked like before it was overtaken by progress and I couldn’t.

We still have many Tabasco products left to enjoy. When we finish them I guess we’ll have to make a return trip to Avery Island – just for the fun of it. If I’m lucky – the Egrets will be nesting and the snakes will have gone south instead.

36 comments:

Dr.John said...

Sounds like this was enjoyable even if the plant was closed.At least you got to see the movie.

Junebug said...

Can you tell me, do the swampy areas smell bad? That moss stuff hanging in those trees look good. Are they cypress trees?

Maggie May said...

Tabasco sauce! Have never really thought about where it comes from before. We just tend to take things for granted. Thanks for filling me in!
You certainly travelled around a lot and saw some interesting places.
I wondered if the swampy places smelled bad too!(?)

Leatherdykeuk said...

Fascinating! Alas, I don't care for Tabasco, but I loved the Buddha.

rosiero said...

Loved this post. Had never thought too much about where Tabasco comes from, but now feel educated!! I think I too would have been annoyed to go all that way for a ten-minute tour. However, it sounds like your trip took in much more of the natural beauty of the island, as well as those oil rigs on the way home.

Lane said...

Like a couple of your other commentors, I had no idea where Tabasco comes from either. Thanks for the tour (although disappointingly short for you).

Now, the bayous just look beautiful. Even the word 'bayou' is just so romantic:-)

Crystal Jigsaw said...

That is a shame about the tour. But the rest of the island looks beautiful.

CJ xx

aims said...

There wasn't a smell to anything where we were - but then again it wasn't summertime there. I would think the heat would make the algae smell somewhat. I'm talking over 100F - which I hear it gets.


Even the nesting area didn't have a smell. I'm thinking when the birds are there that there would be quite a smell from all the - erm - white stuff....

The trees were oak and cypress. They were just stunning - and the bayous - Lane yes - so romantic I thought.

Doctorj2u? Have you a comment on this question?

Daryl said...

LOVE Tabasco! And to me the gift shop is always the best part of any tour or museum.

Melanie said...

Love that sauce! Shame the tour wasn't better but it sounds like the shop was worth the trip.

I'd've loved the island tour-to me in the UK New Orleans is all about the mist rising over the swamp entwining itself in the iron balconies and casting a voo doo spell on the city. :-) Yup I know I watched too much Scooby Doo. LOL

Akelamalu said...

Tabasco flavoured ice cream? WOW what did it taste like? Don't say tabasco ;)

aims said...

The ice cream had a bit of a bite to it - but otherwise it was very good.

What I love are the pickles and olives and mustard! We also picked up barbeque sauce and a steak sauce (although we rarely eat steak). They had chutneys as well that you could taste but everything was dipped onto a cracker and the cracker wasn't gluten-free - so I had to pass.

lisaschaos said...

You really have made me want to go (more than I already did)! Sounds like you took in as much as you could while you were there. My husband would love the Tabasco plant!

BT said...

What a super day, although the tour sounds like a total waste of time! The shop more than made up for it. Gallon bottles of Tobasco sauce! It would take me a lifetime to get through one of those! At least you enjoyed your shopping spree!!
The bird sanctuary is something else. Fancy someone bothering to save egrets so long ago. I love them, so I'm glad he did! Those signs look so funny out there in the water!

You must return another time and see the egrets nesting. Bayou is such a lovely name, so romantic. A super post aims.

grandmamargie said...

Super post. Glad you enjoyed it so much, well, except for the tour. I don't think I would like the ice cream though. Yuck. :)

bermudabluez said...

Oh, aims, that is too bad about the tour...but the gift shop is always the highlight of my trip! I'm so far behind in reading blogs as I just got home today...will enjoy catching up! Hope all is well with you!!

Hilary said...

Looks like an incredible area. I'd love to get to Louisiana at some point. But Tobasco-flavoured ice cream? Nooooo! I'll just take Rocky Road, please. :)

sallymandy said...

Tabasco ice cream! Wow. Maybe...
I found a garlic tabasco sauce in my town once, and I loved it so much, but haven't found it anywhere else. I wonder if they still make that stuff. Thanks for an interesting post.

TSannie said...

Well, if I'm ever down in that neck of the woods, I'll skip the factory tour. Thanks for the info!

Funny, I love hot but really don't like the taste of Tabasco. I'm a Frank's girl myself.

Biddie said...

Oh, thank goodness that you never encountered any snakes! I would have DIED!
Never gave much thought to Tabasco sauce either. Mind you, Shawn LOVES it.

Salute said...

My husband and I visit Avery Island some time ago. And it was really a great tour, we really enjoyed it.

david mcmahon said...

At last, you've revealed your sources, er, sauces!!

travelling, but not in love said...

Sounds like a fun day - but the tabasco tour was a bit strange. You'd think they'd make a bit lmore of an effort, wouldn't you?

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh, terrific!!!! Who'd a thunk they'd be so fussy about their tour scheduling, though!!!! Congrats on POTD! I'm so glad I had a chance to visit! It was delightful, and added wonderful flavor to my Monday.

Cheffie-Mom said...

Great post! Congratulations on the Post of the Day Award from Authorblog!

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Spicy tale!

BumbleVee said...

Hiya..... just stopping in to see what fellow "contenders" in David's post of the day have included in their posts.... ...

imagine my surprise at also seeing a fellow Canuck...and living pretty close if you come to Calgary and Edmonton.... (I read that on the old Blue Barn site...how I got there first I'm not sure) .. and also having something to do with bears and crafts...I must read on...

Salute said...

Thanks for visitng and leaving a comment. As far the smell, I think it depends on the time of year.

Brett said...

Just like to highlight my post about the UK governments treatment of the Gurkha's, please give it a quick look. http://365to42.blogspot.com/2009/05/what-price-honour.html

Living the Dream said...

sounds as though you have had a really good trip. I am finally catching up with you after my visit to the UK.

Mima said...

Hi aims

Lovely to hear from you, I am in one piece, but blogging has had to take a bit of a back seat to life for a while, nothing major, I just don't think that my energy levels are where they were. Hopefully it is something that I will get back to soon.

Your trip sounds great but sorry to hear that Christmas was trashed, people just don't understand how bad things can be do they? New Orleans sounds amazing though, and what a trip!

Junebug said...

Aims,
I watched The Today Show and saw this cookbook with gluten free recipes by Mariel Hemingway. I hope this link works: http://www.amazon.com/Mariels-Kitchen-Ingredients-Delicious-Satisfying/dp/0061649872/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242057385&sr=1-1

Junebug said...

I found this link about Mariel Hemingway's family: http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=1073581

Very interesting.

Mean Mom said...

Interesting post. I hadn't heard of Tabasco sauce until I met my husband, who loves it. He will be impressed by my newly found knowledge about it.

Avery Island looks lovely and I'm glad that you had such a good time on your trip to New Orleans.

San said...

I'm a hot sauce fan, but I might draw the line at Tabasco ice cream! Don't get me wrong--I'd try it. I just wouldn't expect much. In Gilroy, California, home of the Garlic Festival, they serve garlic ice cream.

If you ever come to Santa Fe, you'll have to try the chile pepper chocolate.

disa said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.