Where Y'Eat: Catfish, Bloody Marys and Hope in a Hard-Hit Bayou Town
On this trip through Des Allemands, I saw fishermen already working the productive waters again, and families picking up the pieces. At Spahr’s and Frank’s Lounge, I saw, yet again, how Louisiana hospitality people will be guideposts for the path forward.
The small bayou town Des Allemands is known for catfish and, thanks to Frank’s Lounge, bloody Marys.
Frank’s is a bar with an A-frame entrance and unofficial landmark status in Des Allemands, a fishing village where travelers between bayou country and New Orleans for a break, and maybe a bloody. It straddles the parish line between Lafourche and St. Charles. That put it just about dead center for Hurricane Ida.
So when I approached Des Allemands recently to see how food and hospitality people had fared, I approached the bend in the road just before the village with apprehension. Heavy damage to buildings and trees and power lines was evident everywhere.
But then there was Frank’s, and the tough little lounge was more or less intact. It was not open, mind you, but I found the proprietor at work cleaning up and she assured me that once electricity was back, Frank’s Lounge would soon be back too. I could practically taste the strong, citrusy, peppery, savory-sweet bloody Mary already.
There was more good news right down the road at Spahr’s Seafood restaurant, famous for its thin fried catfish and for its own bloody Marys. Spahr’s was damaged but still standing and already showing the results of the first rounds of clean up and rebuilding. In fact the Spahr’s crew had been cooking hot meals for first responders just days after Ida. Now they were working to get back to business as soon as possible.
Louisiana’s love of food and drink is renowned. But it’s not just part of the reputation of a place that lets the good times roll, it’s part of the identity of people who call this beautiful, challenging, irreplaceable region home. It’s one of the ways we express the culture we share here, the culture that anchors us when so much can seem unmoored.