Have you found the peppers and shadows near you? When you need a short break from life, sometimes all you have to do is look close to home. You may be amazed at what you find. Most people travel far from home to sight see and overlook the areas in their own hometown. Hubby and I picked New Iberia, a place only an hour and a half away from home. Our little weekend getaway resulted in peppers and shadows. And memories!
We started the day at the Tabasco factory, the place of the famous pepper sauce made by Mr. Edmund McIlhenny in 1868 on Avery Island, LA. It was almost noon, so we decided to start with lunch at 1868. This was a quaint, cafeteria-style restaurant. With a ‘build your own Bloody Mary’ bar. Of course I cannot pass up that kind of temptation!
Moving on, we went from stop to stop taking in the history of Tabasco and observing current day process of making the famous pepper sauce. The peppers are mashed, mixed with other ingredients, and put in barrels. There they sit for three years so they can age perfectly. The top of the barrels are covered with salt (you can see this in the below picture) to keep out impurities. After aging, the sauce is bottled and shipped all over the world. Along the assembly line we observed workers performing quality control. Every so often, the woman we were watching would pull a bottle out of the line. Not really sure why. I can only assume either the bottle was not filled with pepper sauce, or the bottle was damaged somehow. I do know that I do not have the type of patience it must take to work that type of job. Kudos to all of the workers at Tabasco!
Corks were used to stop the bottles and the tops were sealed with green wax to contrast with the sauce’s color. Today green paper is used in place of the wax.
Next stop was the Shadows on the Teche. We stepped back in time to the antebellum period. Built in 1834, The house is set among 100 year-old towering live oak trees draped with Spanish moss and sits on the banks of Bayou Teche. The grounds are absolutely breathtaking! Bamboo lines the walkway and effectively shuts out the traffic from Main Street, which lends the imagination to travel back in time to when there were no automobiles. The peace is tranquil and you almost feel like you are there with the landowners tending the gardens and the children running around.
It amazed me at the amount of history that is preserved here. The house is filled with about 85% of the original furniture and fixings. Shadows was built with no hallways, but plenty of windows to let the fresh air flow through as there was no air conditioning at that time. David and Mary Weeks finished building the house in 1834. Mary oversaw the final stages of the construction while her husband traveled to Connecticut in hopes of finding a cure for his recurring unidentifiable disease. Unfortunately, David would never live in the house as he died while seeking a cure for his illness. Mary later died in her sleep while still living in her home. The Shadows was home to four generations of Weeks families, whose fortunes were made in the sugar industry. Williams Weeks Hall, the last member of the family to live in the house, donated the Shadows to the National Trust for Historical Preservation.
Williams Weeks Hall’s donation included the house, gardens, furniture, and over 17,000 documents – letters, receipts, invoices, and inventories.
Our tour guide, Mrs. Barbara, was amazing. She was very knowledgeable and gave us her undivided attention. If you ever have the opportunity to visit New Iberia, LA., make sure you stop by the Tabasco factory and Shadows on the Teche. (Click these links to follow them on Facebook.)
Till next time,