The cottages of the sugar barons at Houmas House Plantation served as our home for the next two evenings. The Plantation is located alongside the big bend in the Mississippi River on 38 acres of gardens, ponds and majestic live oaks.
The Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board sponsored a Plantation Seafood dinner. The issue here is trying to shoot the food before it is consumed. For this group food is their passion, so I quickly make a circle documenting the different dishes and then work back through the group a second and third time.
We ended our evening trying not to watch the political debates going on in the Turtle Bar … no one wanted to spoil the warm feelings that the shared experiences with both food and friendship had created.
an expert on Louisiana history, leads our trip to the first stop at Tony’s Seafood. He explains that before the civil rights movement, dining while traveling by train was a challenge for black people. Although white train passengers were served in dining cars, Jim Crow laws barred black passengers. Thus, the shoe box lunch, a meal in a box packed before boarding, became common for traveling black families.
So a side note on the “skinning of the fish” shot, I didn’t just take this once, No — I had the stomach clenching opportunity to document this activity twice – so close you could smell it and step in the slick surface from the operation. And, that is because I smiled … yes there are times when a smile is not the answer and this was one of those times. It was very noisy at Tony’s Seafood, with orders being placed, and people everywhere and the motors in the refrigerators humming loudly. When this very proud fishmonger asked me something, as my stomach was turning over from the first episode of “how to clean a fish” … I just smiled because I couldn’t hear him and I was trying desperately not to throw up … and then voila’ before I knew what was happening … another fish, another hook, the knife and well you get the idea … No More Smiling!!!