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Food at SwampFest
This blog comes with a warning-don’t read if you are hungry! This weekend is Audubon Zoo’s Louisiana SwampFest and I decided to give an intimate perspective of the food at this festival. Zoos in general do not have festivals and none serve the food like that available at SwampFest. SwampFest is a 2 day festival celebrating the food, music, animals and culture of southern Louisiana. For the price of zoo admission you are welcomed into a cultural event so decadent in great experiences that it may take you two days to get the Zydeco music out of your head and the cholesterol out of your blood.
I walked past the animal residents mesmerizing other guests to get straight to the food booths. I could smell it before I could see it-seafood and spices filling the air. I approached the long food tent area and was delighted to see more choices than ever before. All festival food is cooked fresh to order and there is no such thing as a frozen item that gets dumped into the oil and sits under a weak warming light. The cooks are right there in the tent: chopping, dipping, frying and “plating up” to order. I started at the beginning of the row; it was a soft-shell crab po-boy with fries, one of my favorites. (For those of you not from this area a po-boy is a sandwich on French bread usually filled with fried seafood). I ate the soft-shell crab po-boy and skipped the fries to leave room for more items. Next was a fried crawfish wrap with crab sauce. The crunchy fried crawfish morsels on a soft flour wrap with spicy sauce was perfect. I skipped the Fried Pork chop on French bread and went for the Shrimp and Grits-yummy, salty, cheesy grits topped with grilled shrimp. I needed to break for a beverage. Options even included Hurricanes (a popular New Orleans sweet alcoholic drink.) How great is this city and zoo?!
Desserts included pralines and bread pudding, but I couldn’t waste stomach space on that; there was still Shrimp and Crabmeat Dressing, Shrimp Etoufee, Fried Alligator, Gumbo, Cajun Jambalaya, Green’s with BBQ Chicken Drummettes. The Zydeco music and dancers were right in front of me as I bellied up to the table with a plate of Crowder Peas and Okra with BBQ chicken drummettes. I would have to skip Red Beans and Rice and Crawfish Audubon Pasta (a creamy, spicy pasta dish with those lovely, red, little crustaceans swimming in the sauce.)
It was time to walk a little and visit the animals that host this event. I walked past sea lions, rhinos, giraffes and entered the Louisiana Swamp exhibit. I walked past their collection of animals and realized that many of the animals that were on exhibit in this area were also on the menu of the festival food booths. That was just a humorous reminder of how special and unique southern Louisiana and the Audubon Zoo are. If you can’t get to SwampFest this year, we will be back next year. Plan on it and definitely wear elastic waisted pants for optimum comfort and food consumption.