Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Where do you get the best Pho in the world? Pitkin, Louisiana, of course!

When we return to Oregon at the end of May, and I am 20 lbs heavier than when I left, it is this dude's doin.  He researches the local cuisine and makes sure we eat the most insulin-climbing, aortic-caking concoctions.  And then he puts a gun to my head and makes me eat it.  Because as we learned in Texas, "The Second Amendment IS my gun permit!" While Emmett still says no one's barbecue beats the Fishers, we've explained that they can all exist together.  Texas, you don't play.  Two greats were Coopers and Soulman...hit them up whenever possible.  Except if you live near them.  And then make sure it's rarely, or you're doing lots of cardio and veggies in between.  Please hit the Coopers's worth your time.

We crossed over to Louisiana, and while the night before we didn't know where we were going to stay (ahem, Gary has taken over trip planning starting in February; he tells me I'm not good with ambiguity when I freak out about not knowing where I'm going to sleep tomorrow night.  Help me out, people). Well, we found about the best place ever to sleep on your way through Louisiana.  And while we missed our Trader Joe's opportunity in Baton Rouge, it's likely because we had so many leftovers from our stop at Dr Charles and Susan Allen's BnB in Pitkin.

 Dr. Allen is a Louisiana botanist, who showed us around his property, then took us for a walk in the forest behind his place.  Let's just say we learned some stuff.
Des making the loblolly pine rain 

Emm found his walking stick/staff

the boys found shelter; the base of the tree opens up near the water because it's frequently under water

guess what makes these holes?  You guessed it!  The yellowbellied sapsucker!

the adventurers crossed the pond on the big log!we didn't get a good shot, but it was quite far and slippery

the boys have gone native; they blend in here in Louisiana!

well-named turkey tail bracket fungus

Des helps collect the quail eggs

I chose to hold the eggs while the boys collected; didn't want all that work to go splat!

pretty eggs...each one's different

Emmy's dancing with Barnaby

the guard rooster, Metallica

And last, but most certainly not least, the amazing Susan Allen.  Susan and Charles met in Vietnam during the war, and have been married some 40 odd years.  Susan is Chinese, raised in Vietnam, and now Louisianan.  She is the best of all three places.  She grandmothered us in all the right ways, starting with gumbo, then stirfry, and finally Gary's favorite, pho.  She made cookies, improved the boys chopstick habits, and improved upon each dish (Chinese rice with the gumbo, ten times the meat/richness of the pho, Louisiana shrimp in the Chinese stirfry).  She hugged us, made sure we were comfortable and happy, and had a wonderful "y'all" in her Chinese/Vietnamese-accented English.  As I said, who knew you had to go to rural Louisiana for great Vietnamese food?  Yet another example that it's the journey, not the attention to the spaces in between!