Hey everyone! Happy Sunday! I had such a great weekend. Saturday morning we went to the Delcambre Seafood and Farmers Market. I’m going to make a whole post about it this week because it is totally worth sharing with all of you! Then, Saturday night, I went to my favorite restaurant with my favorite person! My best friend Katie and I have been friends since we were 3 years old. She is the closest thing I have to a sister, but we live 2 hours apart from each other, and growing families make the trek from Plaquemine to Abbeville difficult. I was so excited for her to come visit me, and I was even more excited to take her to my favorite restaurant, Dupuy’s in Abbeville. We ate oysters, both raw and charbroiled, and we shared a perfectly cooked filet topped with jumbo lump crabmeat. The food was amazing and the company was even better.
Isn’t she beautiful? She’s even more beautiful on the inside. I just love her.
Anyway, enough about my fabulous weekend. Let’s get to the reason for this post. I have so enjoyed my time writing this blog since I started in December. What began as a hobby has grown into something more. Everywhere I go, people tell me they are reading my blog. People are texting me, telling me they tried my recipes and they love it. The biggest compliment I’ve received has been “Your blog makes my heart smile. It’s so awesome to see something positive on social media. Thank you and your parents for raising such an inspirational person!” Well…this brought tears to my eyes. The blog began as a creative outlet for me. I was going through a trying time when I started it, and I was looking for something to lift me up. I pictured the blog being an online collection of pictures, recipes and memories that my daughter could someday look back on. So, to hear that I’ve inspired others and made others smile…It makes me feel so blessed. It makes me want to continue this journey…for my dad, for myself, and for my followers.
My sister in law is an incredibly talented graphic designer who designs invitations, logos for businesses, to name a few. She graduated in art from Nicholls State which lead her to work for Lamar designing their billboards. She and I were talking one day about the blog, and how she thought I should “brand it”. Being from Texas, she told me that she has always viewed Cajun cooking as intimidating and difficult. After reading my posts, she says that I’ve found a way to create a Cajun lifestyle for everyone. In short, I’ve created a way for people to be Cajun everyday. She dubbed this as a lifestyle, Everyday Cajun (with the Cajun Queen).
Why do people call me that Cajun Queen? Well…it all started in 2003, in Plaquemine, LA. Growing up in Plaquemine, all kids went to an annual celebration called the Acadian Festival. The Knights of Columbus work hard every year to put on this event, which is more than just a festival. It is a special way to pay tribute to our ancestors, the Acadians. You see, many years ago, the Acadian people were exiled from Nova Scotia. Many of these people were relocated to the swamps. The British thought that this would be a way to eliminate the Acadians, as the swamps were no place to live. They saw the living conditions as deplorable, and they were sure the Acadians would cease to exist. Families were torn apart. It was scary and sad. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote an epic poem about this, particularly regarding a woman named Evangline who was separated from her lover, Gabriel. Evangeline spent her life in search of Gabriel, never to find him. It is written that she settled as a Sister of Mercy, serving the poor, and that she finally meets Gabriel at the end of his life, and he dies in her arms. Such a beautiful tale of suffering, heartbreak, sacrifice, and true love.
Plaquemine’s Acadian Festival is devoted to this story. Growing up in Plaquemine and attending the festival was the highlight of my year. Not only is there the weekend long festival, but there is a parade, the water ceremony, a mass, and the presentation of the new queen at the Civic Center. The town of Plaquemine spends this time in anticipation and excitement around the events.
I grew up in St Louis Subdivision in Plaquemine, in walking distance from the festival. Every year, my mom took my brother and I to the festival all weekend long. Riding the rides, eating funnel cakes, and running into friends from school was so much fun. I remember as a little girl, I spotted the queen of the festival. She was walking around, greeting the visitors, wearing her crown and sash. I was in awe of her and I dreamed of one day being the queen of the Acadian Festival, also known as Evangeline, after Longfellow’s poem.
My senior year of high school, my classmates and I were invited to compete to be on the court for the Acadian Festival. I did what I had to do to get on the court, which involved spending a summer calling members of the Knights of Columbus, asking them to vote for me. Once I was voted onto the court, a day was scheduled for us to interview with judges from out of town. At the end of that day was an exciting moment for me…I was crowned 2003 Evangeline! Look how proud my daddy was.
Well, ever since my reign as Evangeline, it has been a running joke with my family and friends that I’m still the “Queen”. As I always say, “Once a queen, always a queen”. My mom actually opened a boutique and named it Queeny’s! I think that being a Queen is a lot like being a Cajun. It’s a way of life. I try to never take myself too seriously. I strive for the very best in all aspects of my life. I treat others with kindness and lift them up. And most importantly, I NEVER give up.
So there you have it. My story. I realized I was telling my dad’s story, which is the most incredible, beautiful story ever. But, I’ve decided to share MY story with all of you, and put my own style into the blog. I hope that Everyday Cajun with the Cajun Queen will be a place that people visit to smile, laugh, cry and be creative. I hope it can be an open forum where I can post about recipes, fun places to visit, and share stories about our culture. I hope that it gives everyone the confidence to cook from the heart, and to realize that we can be Cajun everyday! I hope that it promotes resilience, just like our ancestors did when they were exiled from Nova Scotia. Instead of giving up, they found a pot, grabbed some random ingredients and made a gumbo. This spirit is what I’m all about. So… please continue to follow me on my journey. Live. Love. Laugh. And when life hands you roux, make a stew.
This is a picture of me after the water ceremony. I was presented on a canoe, in Bayou Plaquemine, in front of the whole town! I got up to the pier, and my dad’s beaming face was brighter than the stars. I’ll never forget this moment.
xoxo- Cajun Queen
Oh! and as far as that girl I mentioned in the beginning… I love growing old with you and I can’t wait to see where this life take us!!