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Northern Louisiana

QUIRKY PLACES

The Music Never Dies
Todd Weaver, of Louisiana Spirits Investigations, sets up a paranormal investigation at the Municipal Auditorium.
(Jim Hudelson/The Times PHOTOGRAPH)



Even the skepticism of paranormal investigator Brad Duplechien, Director of Louisiana Spirits Investigations, [see “Central Louisiana”] couldn’t debunk the eerie occurrences that befell his group at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium. Built in the 1920s, the basement of the building once housed the Shreveport coroner’s office and city morgue. In these hallowed halls where Elvis, Hank and Mr. Cash once performed, the paranormal seems to be having its own hayride; reports of apparitions and unexplained phenomena abound.

After setting up infrared cameras and other recording equipment at strategic spots in the auditorium, the ghost hunt was afoot. In the dressing room, the investigative team smelled the scent of baby powder and flowers wafting through for a moment, then it vanished. A team member climbed on the stage and addressed the audience by asking for a sign of spiritual presence. Some entity in the front row of the seemingly empty audience kindly obliged by responding with four loud and distinct claps that were caught on a recording. Throughout the night, the team heard repeated moans and high-pitched sounds; electromagnetic field (EMF) spikes were observed.

Hours of footage revealed nothing out of the ordinary upon review – however, when it came to Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) taping, as befitted a shrine to country music recording stars, paranormal results were off the charts.

“We collected more EVP recordings here than at any other investigation,” Duplechien claims.

Sounds of constant whispering were recorded. One eerie voice loudly claimed, “I love Johnny Cash!” The most disconcerting EVPs were captured in the hallway where the apparitions have been seen – cries of “killed you,” “get out of here,” and “time to get out” were clear manifestations of sound.

For more information, visit www.stageofstars.com and www.laspirits.com.

Fork in the Road
Thirteen Cookies
There’s something about autumn that conjures feelings of coziness and comfort, making you want to curl up on a gray afternoon with a good whodunit, a cup of coffee and fresh homemade cookies. Offering 13 flavors of baked-from-scratch cookies, the award-winning Dough Basket and Creative Cakes Bakery in Shreveport has been bringing flavorful happiness to North Louisiana for the last 14 years. Individually wrapped cookies come in the form of Snickerdoodles, Cowboys – with oatmeal, chocolate chip or coconut – chocolate raspberry, peanut butter, white chocolate praline and more.

Someone once said to never refuse homemade brownies – if the brownie is fudge, mint, Oreo or cream cheese from The Dough Basket, you’d be doubly foolish not to heed this most sage advice. Perfect for Halloween parties or football gatherings, these confections baked by owner Tanya Andrews Clark can be purchased by the tray, basket or individually. Clark’s specialty cakes, like everything offered in the bakery, are from-scratch creations, rich with flavors of Italian cream, red velvet and carrot. Melt-in-your-mouth pound cakes, either glazed or plain, are part of the flavorful repertoire. Not to be overlooked, the humble Bundt cake blooms in banana and pumpkin flavors. Here, wedding cakes are done the old-fashioned way with simple white icing, beautifully adorned with fresh flowers. Andrews is happy to ship orders anywhere.

The Dough Basket and Creative Cakes, 724 Azalea Drive, Shreveport, (318) 868-6229.

Louisiana Grown
Hazel Wand
American Hazelnut

Although they proliferate the northern regions of the U.S., horticulturists recommend the American hazelnut (Corylus Americana) to be grown in the rich loam of Louisiana. The trunk of this large, deciduous shrub grows well along the edges of forests, riverbanks and roadsides. Plant them in full sunlight with moistened, fertilized soil, and this shrub will yield a delicious nut that adds flavor to coffee, breads and cakes. The hazel nut, with its everyday name of “filbert,” has a mystical history.

Before the ancient Celtic ancestors of the North Louisianians converted to Christianity, they divided the year by the 13 cycles of the moon. A sacred tree was ascribed to each cycle, giving the month its name. The time from August to September was named “Coll,” for the hazel tree, the symbol of Druidic wisdom. The Celts believed fountains gushed at the head of Ireland’s most majestic rivers where nine hazel bushes always grew. During autumn, the nuts fell into the river to be devoured by salmon, and in turn, anyone who then ate the salmon was endowed with the gift of precognition. The forked branches of hazel trees, used as divining rods and for water dousing, became synonymous with divination and recovery of lost objects. It was said the witch lived in the hazel nut itself, and a warning often given to misbehaving children, “the hazel nut lady is coming,” usually kept them in line. Until World War I, Sept. 14 (Holy Rood Day) was observed in Britain as Devil’s Nutting Day, when hazelnuts were gathered with the hope of finding two nuts on a single leaf bract to ensure freedom from rheumatism and evil spells. Hazelnuts have their greatest power on the feast of Samhain (Halloween), also known as “Nutcrack Night” by Britons. On this night, when the veil between this world and the next is thinnest, European girls would divine signs of future husbands by the way hazel nuts burned on the kitchen fire.

Rosaries made of hazel nuts bring protection and necklaces made of these reddish-brown nuts found in prehistoric graves are believed to have been amulets and Native Americans used them to flavor soups.

PROFILE
In Memoriam
Adrian Johngene “John” Bean, Jr., co-owner of legendary Shreveport dining institution Herby K’s, was shot there while trying to stop a robbery in progress. Eyewitnesses stated Bean grappled with a masked intruder dressed in black until the shooting occurred; Bean, 58, later died at LSU Hospital. Closed until further notice, the entrance to the popular eatery, which has fed both locals and international celebrities alike, was filled with posters, flowers and cards that gave tribute to the slain restaurateur. Accolades flowed with tears as Bean, a Vietnam veteran, was remembered with deep affection. Having flown Medevac choppers in Vietnam during his stint in the army, Bean was described as a gentle person who loved people. His work at Herby K’s brought him much enjoyment and satisfaction, reports one friend. Married in 1981 to wife Janet, three years after she had taken over the helm of the eatery (home of the immortal Shrimp Buster Po-Boy), Bean was described as someone who would “loan you his last 50 cents.” Shreveport mourns the loss of a devoted husband, father and friend of the community.

In October 2004, Herby K’s worker Kevin Green was found stabbed to death in an apartment attached to the restaurant.

Shreveport Police currently have not leads to the killer of Bean who was seen fleeing through a nearby alley.


Central Louisiana Cause to celebrate
Lecompte Pie Festival
Whenever you use the term “American as apple pie,” think again. European settlers found native crabapples, not apples, on American shores in the 16th century. Centuries ago, before they came to America, these flaky delights full of delectable filling were known as “coffyns.” Open dish pies were called “traps.”

Cultures born of a river’s proximity just seem to love pie – the root of the pie goes as far back as ancient Egypt, when bakers served pharaohs nuts, honey and fruits baked within bread dough. Pies are painted on the walls of Ramses II’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The esthetic Greeks are credited with originating pie pastry that was made from flour and water, usually wrapped around meat and baked to ensure the meat remained succulent following roasting. Pies were considered a plum of victory for the Romans after they conquered Greece, and the most popular dish in Rome 200 B.C. was the “placenta” (Latin for “flat cake”), a cheesecake-type of delicacy either baked on a flat piece of pastry, or encased within it. On all the roads that led from Rome, pie traveled throughout Europe to become a staple. In medieval times, live birds emerged from “pye” crusts to entertain royalty at court. Then, colonists brought them to America – American author Mark Twain, found a bout of depression was greatly lightened by the huckleberry pie his cook made for him daily.

On October 6-8, when Louisiana is cooling off from the oven of summer, the ancient tradition of pie will be celebrated by the Lecompte Pie Festival on the grounds of Lecompte High School. Anne Johnson, heir and owner of Lea’s Lunchroom, will serve her family’s famous creations – coconut cream, lemon and chocolate meringues, fruit, sweet potato, pumpkin and the glorious pecan pie. (Lea’s famous pecan pie can now be enjoyed at any Mello Joy Café in the Lafayette area.) The Lecompte Pie Festival offers crafts and food presented in an autumn bounty sans liquor (in deference to any teenage attendees.) With so many good pies to be had, who needs liquor?

Lecompte Pie Festival, 1610 Veterans Drive, Lecompte, (318) 776-5488; Lea’s Lunchroom, (318) 776-5178.

Profile
Esprits d’corp
Brad Duplechien,
Louisiana Spirits Investigations
(SUSAN STEVISON PHOTOGRAPH)


Alexandria resident Brad Duplechien, founder and director of Louisiana Spirits Investigations, along with his group of ghost hunters, has often been summoned to visit spirits at various Louisiana locations.

Fort DeRussy and the Old Bailey Theatre and Bar in Marksville have been the subjects of Louisiana Spirits Investigations – as was the old Voinche House, which was used as a hospital during the Civil War battles of Fort DeRussy.

The investigation of a trailer home in Leesville was the most hair-raising for Duplechien personally. Once a plantation home belonging to a judge, the grounds where two trailer homes now stand were the scene of a murder years ago. Duplechien was inside one of the trailers when he felt the floor shaking with the footsteps of something unseen. The sound of disembodied chatter began wafting down the hallway, and on instinct, he snapped a picture in the direction of the noise. The resulting photograph captured a large black shadowy mass hovering where the chatter had been heard. Loss of equilibrium and the smell of tobacco smoke in the bedroom of the trailer were accompanied simultaneously by electromagnetic field (EMF) spikes.

Duplechien’s approach is both scientific and skeptical. On a statewide basis, this society sets out to debunk any report of a haunting through the means of video, EMF detectors, recorders, night vision cameras and plain old-fashioned footwork in dark, creepy places. Their goal – to find logical explanations for what appear to be supernatural occurrences – has taken them into nocturnal forays of reputedly haunted forts and plantations, historic courthouses and auditoriums. Video and audiotapes recorded during these ghostly investigations are scrutinized for days afterward. When no logical explanation for unexplained activity is found, Duplechien deems the occurrences as “paranormal.” Always aware that someone will accuse his team of manufacturing evidence, Duplechien remains dogged in his approach. “We put the facts in front of you,” he says, “and leave you to draw your own conclusions.”

The Discovery Channel will feature them in a soon-to-be-released DVD called World’s Largest Ghost Town – Post Katrina Investigation.

For more information visit www.laspirits.com.

Louisiana grown
They Work Hard for the Honey

Louisiana Raw Honey

Beekeepers in Bunkie will tell you that honey is much more than just a sweetener for food or tea. Apiaries are alive with activity throughout Louisiana, so it isn’t necessary to trail a hungry black bear to find raw honey in the Bayou State. Uncooked, unfiltered honey is one of Mother Nature’s greatest healing potions – filled with minerals, amino acids, enzymes and vitamins. Raw honey acts as a powerful antiseptic, antibiotic, antifungal and antibacterial agent. If you’ve suffered with stomach trouble, and found that a tablespoon of raw honey alleviated your discomfort almost immediately, you’re not hallucinating – studies in New Zealand show that raw honey attacks and stops the growth of H. pylori bacteria colonies known to cause gastric ulcers. This golden nectar coats chronic conditions like bronchitis, bronchial asthma, sinusitis and allergies with an anti-inflammatory balm. What’s more, the bees work hard for their honey; on average, they fly over 20,000 miles, sipping from millions of flowers, to make just one pound of honey. Honey in its pure, natural state keeps all the good stuff the bees have left in it – pollen, beeswax and a substance known as propolis. The honeybees obtain propolis by collecting resins from coniferous and poplar trees, and the inside of their hives are coated with it. The busy little insects use propolis as both an adhesive and waterproofer to holds the hives together. Wax cells within the hives are polished with propolis, which also keeps the dwelling free of bacteria, fungi and mold. Propolis applied to wounds has been known to stop bleeding and ease pain.

The health benefits of pure honey are best obtained by the spoonful – one to two tablespoons in the morning for an energy boost a half an hour after you’ve either eaten or had any beverages.

For more information, visit www.labeekeepers.org.

FORK IN THE ROAD
Twisted Sister
Wander into the laid back atmosphere of Sister’s Catfish Bar and Grill in Pineville, and any displaced New Orleanian might just feel they’re back home. Sister’s serves scrumptious and healthy renditions of seafood and catfish perfectly grilled with a delectable smoked flavor – light and completely satisfying. Fried catfish and seafood are also deliciously prepared. Other menu choices, such as the jambalaya, leave no room for complaint.

While patrons continue to regularly return for le bon mangers, the same does not hold true for the cooks employed there. It has been reported that the ghostly figure of a woman, wearing a long, black, soaking wet dress often appears, pictures fly off the walls and the alarm system is triggered regularly. Female patrons powdering their noses report that the stall doors in the ladies’ room unlock and swing open on their own. One poor lady was so terrorized, that she forgot all propriety. She raced out of the ladies’ room as all of the commodes in the bathroom flushed in sequence one after the other while she was there alone.

Highly recommended for good food and, er, spirits, an evening at Sister’s will haunt your eating memories.

Sister’s Catfish Bar and Grill, 3231 Hwy. 28E, Pineville, (318) 487-8650.


Cajun Country

Quirky Places
Crazy Fire
The feu follet, named will-o’-the-wisps in non-French cultures, have been described as a supernatural fire that manifests throughout Cajun Country’s cavernous swamps or graveyards, terrorizing many a Cajun who took an unconventional shortcut to get home late at night. It has long been reputed that these eerie flames dancing in the night are escaped spirits from Purgatory, wandering the earth in search of prayers and Masses to ease their tortured souls. Follow these lights in the murky swamp and they will deliberately lead you astray so that you will remain lost until you die and join them in their spectral dance. The lore of the feu follet is woven through many cultures – throughout the Carpathian region, blue lights glowing from the darkness are considered spirit lights.
Like a phantom Jolly Roger, there is a legend that feu follets wave over Jean Lafitte’s buried treasure somewhere in coastal Louisiana. Feu follets cannot cross water to chase their prey, so you can escape them by crossing a coulée – a deep-sided ravine – or spring.

Of course, scientific experts try to reassure us that these weird lights are just products of a spontaneous combustion of volatile swamp gasses, emitted by decayed bodies and vegetable matter found in swamps and graveyards. However, just in case you find yourself in their eerie bluish glow, it is imperative that you stick the blade of a pocketknife into the ground. This remedy has been practiced by Cajuns and Virginians of French descent alike. From a safe distance, you will no doubt witness the feu follet spin the knife in the ground. When you return for the knife in the morning, you are certain to find a bloodied blade.

Louisiana Grown
Muscadines
Muscadine Grapes

If Gone With the Wind had been set in Louisiana instead of Georgia, the Yankee soldier killed by Scarlett would have been buried beneath a muscadine, not scuppernong, vine. First discovered by Sir Walter Raleigh’s North Carolina colony in the 1500s, Muscadines (Vitis rotundiflora) are frequently called the “grape of the south.” Known as scuppernongs in other regions beneath the Mason-Dixon line, their large, fan-like leaves are born climbers. When autumn sunlight in Louisiana looks like its been filtered through cognac, the plump, bronze or purple orbs of muscadine grapes appear dangling from vines like pendants.

Although the skin is somewhat tough, the flesh within is firm and brims with sweet juiciness. Some Louisiana vintners produce smooth and flavorful rose wines from the bronze muscadine, and pick-your-own muscadine orchards are becoming more and more popular throughout the state. The grapes are excellent for snacking, preserving and wine making.

Fork in the road
My Darling Clementine’s
Located in the heart of lovely New Iberia, Clementine Dining and Spirits was named for the owner’s favorite artist and beloved Louisiana icon, Clementine Hunter. The eatery’s spirit, logo and the manner in which the silverware is laid on the table, reflects the meaning behind Hunter’s initials that were her artistic insignia.

Patrons of Clementine’s will feel embraced by the love of good food the minute their meals begin. The Cajun’s prolific use of eggplants in their cooking is highlighted in Clementine’s Seafood Stuffed Eggplant: an eggplant bowl fried to a deep golden brown, brims with sautéed shrimp and crab claws and is topped with an oyster Hollandaise sauce. A Sashimi-grade tuna steak, seared in butter until rare, crusted in peppercorns, then flamed in brandy and doused with cream and green onion is known as Tuna Poivre. This gracious dining establishment doesn’t forget meat lovers. Not to be missed are the Tournedos en Croute – a pair of four-ounce filet mignons baked in puff pastry and served with a Worcestershire beurre blanc sauce.

Clementine Dining and Spirits, 113 East Main Street, New Iberia, (337) 560-1007.

PROFILE
Traiteurs
Literally translated, traiteur means “treater”. In Cajun culture, this does not equate into physician or nurse, but represents a very old tradition of faith healing prevalent in the historic practices of Acadia. Traiteurs are found all through the 22 parishes of Acadiana, and remain an arcane society of individuals. While being a traiteur is considered a sin by the Catholic Church, many of them are devout, practicing Catholics. Like voodoo in New Orleans, Catholic rituals were then incorporated.

Governed by the honor of their tradition, they cannot advertise their services or else they will lose their powers; news of their tender mercies spreads only by word of mouth, and they must take no payment for services rendered. The means of treating a patient varies according to the traiteur. It is possible for a traiteur to heal a client who is in a different location, but no running water can lay between them. The powers of a traiteur can only be passed on in secret from an older person to a younger.


Baton Rouge/Plantation Country QUIRKY PLACES
Oak Alley Reprised
(PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY LOUISIANA OFFICE OF TOURISM)


Always drawn to this Vacherie Plantation, I visited Oak Alley a few summers ago. Doyennes clothed in hoopskirts of vivid red or electric blue conducted a lively tour. Therefore, I was most surprised to look down the upper hallway to see a doyenne dressed in raven-black with light hair covered by a black lace veil. On the gallery outside, I complimented two of the brightly dressed doyennes on the tour, the house and their pretty dresses. When I mentioned the widow in the hallway, the two young women started, exchanged strange glances at each other, and didn’t respond to my statement.

Nearly a year after this visit I learned something new about the “widow” whom I saw in the hall. When lights are being extinguished at closing time by Oak Alley personnel, a young, fair-haired woman dressed as a widow has been plainly seen standing in the hallway. She then disappears.

It’s always prudent to consider the possibility that someone may just be pulling your leg by pretending to be a ghost. However, Louisiana Spirits, a team of paranormal detectives, have recently conducted two investigations of Oak Alley. Electronic voice phenomenon recordings (EVP) have caught voices crying, “Oh, no,” and “yes,” along with long-drawn out sighs. A photo snapped of the armoire in the master bedroom shows what appears to be a bust-like statuette of a young woman. Oak Alley guides, however, will inform you the bust atop the armoire is decidedly male.

Oak Alley Plantation, 3645 Highway 18, Vacherie, www.oakalleyplantation.com.

Louisiana grown
Aaron’s Robe
Pomegranate trees flourish in the Bayou State and have graced old plantation gardens for generations. Rosy-red pomegranates are the reason autumn visits the earth each year. Ask any Greek, and he will tell you the year dies in chilly winds because of Persephone who ate pomegranate seeds while she was a prisoner in the underworld. For all eternity, she must return to the dark region and live with Hades for a third of the year. If this means the end of hurricane season, we owe her a debt of gratitude.



In the Book of Exodus, God told Moses that Aaron’s priestly vestments were to be embroidered with violet, scarlet and purple pomegranates, intermingled with golden bells. Jewish lore states that pomegranates bear 613 seeds that correspond to the 613 rules of the Torah, and it’s also believed pomegranates, not apples, were the fruit of the Tree of Life. The Spanish Conquistadores brought them to America, Jesuit priests brought them to missions in California and by the early 18th century, pomegranates were found growing wild in Georgia.

Pomegranates today are making a comeback in Louisiana gardens, grown primarily for ornamental reasons – gracing door wreaths and flower arrangements. Self-pollinating, they like well-drained soil and sunny locations. In spring, the shrub is filled with vivid flowers of dark orange and red. Through September and October, the blossoms turn into the splendid fruit that once adorned Aaron’s robe in biblical times.

WORTH WATCHING
North by Northwest
(PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY)

Archaeologists and agronomists have identified the Indian mounds on LSU’s northwestern campus as part of a 5,000-year-old system of Native American culture that is interwoven throughout pre-historic Louisiana. They are older than any found in North America, South America – even Mesoamerica. It is believed that sacred rituals were conducted on this holy ground. The mounds contain no burial remains and are rife with artifacts that, thankfully, remain protected under the LSU system. They are believed to have been built for scattered congregations of Native Americans and to have signified a sacred place to meet, trade, find spouses, celebrate and generally socialize. The LSU mounds are even older than the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Gumbo, LSU’s publication, calls these mounds the most mystical site on the entire campus. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is widely believed by students that this area is haunted by Native American spirits of long ago.

NEW BRIEF
The Past Holds the Key
This past July, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana honored five history buffs they considered to be outstanding preservationists. Honorees included Faye Phillips, Louisiana archivist; Patricia Gay, champion on a mission to rebuild New Orleans neighborhoods post-Katrina; and Ann Reilly-Jones, advocate for the preservation of Louisiana architecture and culture. Joining these Louisiana ladies as fellow honorees were author and Civil War scholar William Spedale and George Jenne, president of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, recognized for his work to reopen the Old Governor’s Mansion. The Foundation considered these individuals people who “made the past known and useful to the present.”

Greater New Orleans

QUIRKY PLACES
So “Manny” Spectors
Deep in the heart of flood-ravaged Lakeview a family is hard at work restoring their home in the midst of a neighborhood that has become a ghost town of abandoned dwellings. Wishing to remain anonymous, this husband and wife have experienced the unexplained in their beautiful Lakeview townhouse for many years. They have been awakened from slumber by a little girl standing at their bedside, who disappears and hides in a small cupboard beneath the staircase. It seems the little girl specter is afraid of the other, more malevolent entity roaming through the three-story dwelling.

This couple frequently feels like they were being touched when no one else present. One night, while home alone, the wife kept hearing a name being spoken that sounded like it began with the letter M. Both the husband and wife have experienced a debilitating stabbing pain in the small of their back that rendered them motionless for minutes.

Larry Montz, world-famous ghost-hunter and head of the International Society for Paranormal Research (ISPR), investigated their home accompanied by a psychic. Without knowing about the stabbing pain experienced by the homeowners – or the exact details of other occurrences – Montz and his group immediately picked up on two entities haunting the house. One was an enraged man who had been murdered near the site of the house, his body thrown into a swampy area before Lakeview had been developed. Montz and his team divined that he had been a numbers runner. He angered a client who retaliated by stabbing him in the back. His name had been “Manny.” The little girl had died somewhere in the neighborhood and her spirit had found its way to their house, specifically to the wife, whom she apparently views as a mother figure.

PROFILE
Oh, you voodoo-full doll!
Voodoo dolls from Vodoo Authentica.

Filled with reference for its religion, Voodoo Authentica in the French Quarter is a perfectly enchanting place to experience the influence New Orleans has had on the ancient practice of voodoo, and vice versa.

Offering vevers, jujus, spells, entertainment, candles and gris-gris, this shop will also introduce you to an assortment of voodoo dolls possessing powers extending beyond any shelf life. Made of Louisiana moss and sticks, and clothed in either dark or spangle-bright attire, they represent the loa, (Voodoo deities) – many of whom correspond to Catholic saints.
The dolls are a fascinating group. Obatala, when placed in the living room of a home to bring peace and protection, is likened to Our Lady of Mercy. Wearing her colors of silver, white and purple, she loves pears, coconuts and black-eyed peas as she rules over the clouds. Legba, clothed in red and black, who is likened to Saints Michael and Peter, guards and opens the crossroads of the world. Place Papa Legba (who loves corn, candy and rum) behind your front door and he will clear your paths of all trouble, especially on Halloween night. Compared to the Mother of Charity, Oshun rules the river, and influences matters of love. She favors autumn colors – orange, golden-yellow, green and coral, and loves to eat pumpkins, clover honey, cinnamon and French pastry. Often found in libraries, Oya (connected to St. Theresa and St. Catherine), rules hurricanes as she feasts on eggplants, plums, grapes and red wine, donned in red, purple and burnt orange. Maman Brigitte, clad all in black – except for a dashing red feather or hat on her head – is the female guardian of the graves, a loa of all cemeteries and queen of the spirit world. Her sacred trees are the elm and willow; New Orleans voodoo practices entreat her for memory improvement, elimination of evil, and to bring ancestral spirits guides closer for good counsel. Her counterpart is Baron Samedi, the Master of the Cemeteries.
Voodoo Authentica, 612 Dumaine, New Orleans, (504) 522-2111.

LOUISIANA GROWN
Perfect Pear
Oriental pears (pyrus serotina) are perfect for all regions in Louisiana. The well-known European varieties – Bosc, Bartlett and d’Anjou – are not up to life in the New World, due to their susceptibility to the disease fire blight. Oriental hybrids christened Moonglow, Magness, Keiffer, Pineapple and Spalding however, feel at home here, producing delicious fruit for Louisiana. Keiffer and Pineapple, firm pear varieties bursting with sweet-tasting grit cells, have filled many jars of spicy homemade mincemeat, preserves, pickles and relishes in Bayou State pantries. This green-gold, curvy, autumn fruit does best when picked before it ripens. The rock-hard pear, when placed in a brown paper bag and stored in a dark place, soon ripens into a succulent treat. A regular diet of pears has been said to stave off wrinkles.

Oriental pear trees should be planted in packed soil free of air pockets, in a spot that receives the early morning sun – which causes dew to rapidly evaporate from the leaves. The roots, however, should always be kept moist.



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