Reflections on a Midsummer’s Day

Reflections on a Midsummer’s Day

The sunrise on this day at my house (60 mile north of New Orleans) was at 5:57 AM. Since I live in a grove of mature oaks, hollies, sycamores, pines, magnolias, etc. I wasn’t in much of a hurry to get out of bed. So I got up a bit after 6, poured a cup of coffee, and stepped outside to see what was going on. I wanted to build a monument to mark the Midsummer sunrise, but we have very few stores lying about in south Louisiana. Since I am surrounded by trees anyway, I chose to use the obvious. At 6 AM, all I could see was a bright spot behind the grove (on the eastern end of the property), so I went back to bed until 6:30. Arising to finally see the sun climbing through the grove, I was able to fix a position behind a particular tree from a particular point next to my patio. Mission Accomplished!

So you may be thinking by now, OK – you have no life, what’s your point? None really, just fixing a point in my mind as to my position on the planet. As to midsummer, well that’s another story.

First you have to understand, summer in south Louisiana is not a pleasant thing. It is a time of year when, for all intents and purposes. the weather team at the local TV stations can take time off, because (except when there’s a hurricane messing about in the Gulf) it’s always “gonna be hot and it might rain” ! Add to that, I have always had a relatively large lawn to mow, another inevitable almost daily “sweat out”. Of course, I do not have to plan an exercise routine this season, it’s built in.

Despite of all of this, Midsummer is a time of celebration. Especially so in an agricultural or – more properly – a horticultural context. A time to mark the turning of the season, when gardens are in full flush, veggies coming into the kitchen from the your own yard, and tomorrow, the days begin to “shorten”. (and we can start hoping for that first October cold front! HaHa) Midsummer is also marked by bonfires (were all those ancient Celts and Germans firebugs?). The good ole Church – always co-opting those pagan celebrations – marked the day with the Feast of St. John the Baptist. Traditionally, the cousin of Jesus and six months older, his birthday/feast-day just happens to fall at Midsummer. Ah, well, let’s keep everybody happy.

So whether you celebrate Litha (pagan) or St. John’s Day (Christian and Voodoo) or Midsummer’s Day (British/American), have a good one and remember where all those fruits and veggies come from.

Have a Blessed (sort of) Holiday !

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Farewell and Hello

Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!  Let all who have ears, hear. Let all who have eyes, see. Be it known to all these present that CHANGES ARE COMING to the online presence, platform, and literary beingness of The 1718 Project, Technical Support Services, Inc, the new TSSI Editorial Services, The Petticoat Rebellion, Madame Langlois’ Legacy, A Classical Blog, and all other literary endeavors of Jon G. and Elizabeth G.  Laiche.

Farewell to All hail and welcome will no longer be available after mid-July of 2019. All the still relevant webpages, blogs, and informational material produced by the 1718neworleans team of writers, editors, bon vivants, and bloggers will henceforth be housed at

There dear readers and followers, you will be able to find our blogs on culinary history and the development of our (so-far) two books. Information on our new Editorial Services – “Helping our clients Become Better Writers -, blogs about our editorial adventures, the publication trials and triumphs of Madame Langlois’ Legacy (publication due by the end of summer,’19), entries about further TriCentennial affairs, the evolution of the newest Northshore Writing Club – i.e. The Piney Hills W. G., etc, etc, etc.

I want to thank everyone for following along with this homage to the Tricentennial of New Orleans, and to all of out literary efforts to that end. And please join us on our continuing adventures into writing, editing, blogging, and generally being a pleasant online pastime  for your edification and entertainment. Thanks again for all your support!

Jon G. and Elizabeth G. (aka Jerry and Beth) Laiche


Filed under 18th Century, Creole Cooking, Louisiana History

An early memory of the Great Creole/Cajun Controversy

I remember back to the late ‘60’s. A few close cousins and myself had just begun to inquire into the genealogy of our huge family, and my Dad was opening oysters in our (his) neighborhood restaurant. Growing up in New Orleans, we had always heard of the Creoles and the Cajuns, pretty much always thinking they were much the same thing. I knew our family was of French descent, even with the decidedly un-French name of Laiche (pronounced lesh). As it turns out, we were indeed French – most of the adults around us spoke French often – and were descended from immigrants who originated in the always contested French/German borderlands along the Rhine River. The place called Alsace-Lorraine. Anyway, back to the oysters. I asked Dad whether we were Creoles or Cajuns. BTW, my Mom was definitely a Cajun. Dad responded, in his usual gruff fashion, “Creole or Cajun, bah, it makes no difference. Its all the same thing along the river.” (he had grown up in St. James Parish – ‘along the river’). As it turns out, he was more correct than he knew.

Now, I’m going to pause here to make an announcement. Book 2 of my ongoing saga of the birth of Creole cuisine, Madam Langlois’ Legacy is set for publication this summer (more info to follow), and research has begun on Book 3. Also, our website is being retired and replaced by a continuing social media presence centered on Books 2 and 3.

The research phase for Book 3 – as yet untitled – has begun. It will cover the origins of French Louisiana cuisine from roughly 1800 up to the Civil War. The above memory was provoked by that research. Dad’s answer to my innocent high school question is actually rooted in my first foray into that research. To wit:

French settlers from Europe and Canada arrived in Louisiana in 1699. The Acadian exiles, aka the Cajuns, arrived in the 1760’s. For sixty years or so, the French, their imported Africans, and the Native Americans co-existed and mixed together to create the Louisiana Creole culture and population. More Francophones arrived over the years, but none more prevalent than the exiles from French Acadia (aka British Nova Scotia). This hardy race had been in New France for more than a century before Louisiana was a significant population center. Their travails and travels make up a whole other story. Their arrival in Louisiana caused somewhat of a culture shock between the two French-speaking GROUPS. There was even some tension between them which was only amplified by the Spanish takeover of French Louisiana. All of this really hits home and directly addresses Dad’s gruff comment. The Spanish authorities settled some of the new arrivals just upriver from the German/French settlements known as the Cote d’Allemands ( the German Coast). Essentially beginning at the current parish boundary between St. John and St. James Parishes, the new parishes of St. James and Ascension (with some overflow north to Baton Rouge) became the Cote d’Acadian (the Acadian Coast).

Bringing all of this full circle, the Laiche ancestors first settled in St. John Parish – near today’s Bonnet Carre Spillway. By the first American born generation, several Laiches had moved to the Acadian Coast. My direct ancestors can be traced directly to St. James Parish, where my father and his 15 siblings were born at the beginning of the 20th century. Much as I hate to admit it, Dad was spot on correct in his dismissal of this Creole/Cajun dichotomy. Intermarriage between the second and third Creole Laiche generations and children of the Acadian Coast created the modern Laiche families which as Dad pointed out, “Creole or Cajun, bah, it makes no difference. Its all the same thing along the river”. I wonder if really knew his heritage, or more to the point, if he really cared.

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End of the Beginning: Prelude Part VI

Sometime during the age when Greece was creating Western Civilization and Paul and the other Apostles were laying the foundations of a great world religion, ( 400 BC to 100 AD) the Mississippi cut a crevasse at Cannes Brulee (near modern Kenner). Through the crevasse poured the flow that would cut a channel west to east and traverse modern Orleans Parish. This channel would eventually become what the French would call Bayous Tchoupitoulas and Sauvage.

These streams ran along today’s paths of Metairie and Gentilly Roads, creating the high ground of the Metairie and Gentilly Ridges. The ridges in turn created the backbone upon which the roads were built.

During the first millennium AD the two bayous were in reality one long bayou distributing water from the Mississippi into Lake Pontchartrain. They ran through the a long narrow stretch of swamp between the river and lake. There was, however, a peculiarity to this place. Here the river makes its famous crescent U- shape. Into the middle of this U, on either side of the Metairie-Gentilly Ridge would occasionally pour the waters of the flooded Mississippi or a heavy rainstorm or a hurricane.

These occasional floods created shallow, seasonal lakes on both sides of the ridge. The lakes weakened the ridge between them and became the origin of Bayou St. John. As the ridge collapsed, water would course into the lowlands between the original main bayou and the lake, eventually creating the channel that would get deeper as each rainy season passed.

The low areas in the upper middle portion of the U (aka Lakeview and Gentilly) would drain via this channel into the lake. One can see similar hydrographic effects today in Eastern New Orleans toward the mouth of Bayou Sauvage.

By the time Iberville and Bienville arrived, the bayous around the Indian portage were three in number. What had been one became by 1700 three branches of the same watercourse. The “three” bayous –

Metairie (or Tchoupitoulas) Bayou,
Gentilly (or Sauvage) Bayou,
and Bayou St. John

– met where today’s Metairie and Gentilly Ridges meet Bayou St. John at the base of City Park. To speak of bayous running in any direction is a gross exaggeration. They only “run” when something – a river, a rainstorm, or a flood – is pushing them. But, for the sake of clarity, we can say that Bayou St. John ran north into Lake Pontchartrain. Bayou Metairie or Tchoupitoulas ran west to the Tchoupitoulas country on the river in Old Jefferson. Bayou Sauvage or Gentilly ran east into the swamp between river and lake and faded into Lake Pontchartrain somewhere before Chef Menteur Pass. Of the three, only St. John remains. The other two and their levees are now roads – Metairie and Gentilly respectively.

In the seventeenth century, the local Natives made great use of the “three” waterways to travel through the swamps between river and lake, and to fish and hunt along their banks. The bayous brought river and lake together, and the final tie that bound the region into one was the portage. This soggy trail was so important to their colonial efforts that the French authorities gave out eight land grants where the portage and the bayous merged. The ‘village’ and trading post at Bayou St. Jean were established in 1708, fully 10 years before the capital was authorized and begun.

Before the city of New Orleans rose from the swampy ground, Colonial authorities searched for and even nominated several spots to locate a capital which would be able to control the traffic on the river. But it was Bienville who would finally choose the spot – on that portage he and his brother first saw in 1699, where the city would be built.

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The State of the Study

Now that all the “state of’s” for 2019 are done, I thought I would share how all my “professional” endeavours are progressing. We have had the State of the Union, the State of the State, and the State of the City, as well as numerous state of’s anything you care to name. Now approaching my late 60’s, I feel confident in stating that pretty much nothing has changed. Politicians are still crooked. Gun as well as other violence between citizens remains as strong as ever. A year ago I had $400 in the bank, today I have $600 in the bank (at least it didn’t go down). The infamous 1% still controls the vast majority of wealth in the country. But I can still blog and say such things in public – our Constitution – daily threatened by the powers that be, still lets me be free in my speech. So having done with this review of the State Of’s, I present the State of my Study.

The State of the Study shows promise this year. The Second book in the Culinary History series is finished and in the second edit before publication. Research has begun on the third book.

Look For;

A revised webpage for Technical Support Services, Inc. now including info on TSSI Editorial Services- a local editing service for indie and otherwise authors.

A revised webpage for marking events between 1717 – 1722 as the Tricentennial continues to evolve.

New continuing Blogs on the 1718 theme. Including updates and recipes based on Madame Langlois’ Legacy, publication set for midsummer, 2019.

New continuing Blogs on The Classics Blog re; life in the study of a classicist.

Sharing notices on some really good blogs,to wit . . . – a writer’s blog to end all writer’s blogs; Cooking in the Archives; a blog about what the British Americans were doing while we French were planting civilization in the New World;, a blog from a practitioner of culinary history;

Notices/blogs etc. about the Bayou Writer’s Club;

and a new blog on the up and coming Hwy 25 Writer’s Group.

Notices and info on TSSI Editorial Services.

Now having set the agenda for 2019, lets see if I have the cahoonies to get it done 🤪 🤓 🧐

BTW, my physical study, the room where all the magic happens, is still a cluttered mess of books, papers, unpaid bills, and mismatched furniture in loving homage to all my professors’ offices throughout my academic career !!!

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tssi copy-editing & proof reading service

Helping You Be A Better Writer

21373 Dutch Rd. Franklinton, LA 70438. 985-795-2372,,

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1698 Prelude Part V

Dear readers,

Below is the penultimate entry in this seemingly endless coverage of that area, called by the Native Americans, Brubancha – the land of many tongues. We call this area home, or to be less trite – the Greater New Orleans area, La Ile d’Orleans, including SE Louisiana and the Gulf Coast to Pensacola. There is only one more entry, to be posted in the next fortnight or so. Thanks for your patience.

And now Part V – Another well-established concept, generally accepted among scholars and the general public, holds that Native Americans are one with the lands they inhabit. Unlike the Euro-Americans who hold political power on the American continents today, there is an almost mystical bond between American geographical land-forms and the original Americans. The original Louisiana natives wandered the Gulf Coast between Mobile and the Mississippi Delta. One focus of these wanderings was shown to the LeMoyne brothers only two days after they had entered the great river from its mouth. A Bayougoula guide showed Iberville and Bienville a portage from the river to a bayou. That bayou, later called St. John, was a native shortcut from the Mississippi to the Gulf Coast. It was to become a crucial element in the establishment of New Orleans. In the seventeenth century, the local Natives made great use of Bayou St. John (called Tchoupic by the Indians) and its associated streams, namely the Tchoupitoulas and Sauvage bayous, to travel through the swamps between river and lake, and to fish and hunt along their banks. The bayous brought river and lake together, and the final tie that bound the region into one was the portage. What would those long- gone Indians – who showed Iberville and Bienville the portage from the river to the bayou, who helped the French survive, who understood the land and it properties – think of today’s magic city that arose along that fateful passage?

Bayous, Lakes and Swamps

The lands and waters of the Ile d’Orleans defined the existence the first French settlers as well as that of the Native Americans. New Orleans is where it is for one main reason, the Bayou St. John. Today, the bayou is a picturesque waterway gracing Mid-City and gently winding north along City Park’s eastern border to the Lake. In the late 1600’s, however, it was a major thoroughfare for natives and settlers alike. Now a recreational spot, where one can find, on any given day, a few fishermen along its banks, or some rowing shells manned by teams of vigorous youths, and occasionally, a small boat or pirogue being used to pass a sunny afternoon. The Bayou starts (or ends) at the base of Jefferson Davis Parkway and Lafitte St., three blocks north of Canal Street, If one follows St. Louis and Lafitte Streets towards the French Quarter, one trails along a cement canal and the railroad tracks that mark the path of the Old Basin or (originally) the Carondelet Canal. A few blocks north of Lafitte St. is the present day corridor of Esplanade Ave. Hard by the avenue is a street with the wonderful name of the Grand Route St. John. The Grand Route crosses Esplanade twice; west to east (uptown to downtown) about four blocks from the bayou, and then back again (downtown to uptown) several blocks further south. After the second crossing, it becomes Bayou Road down to Claiborne Ave., where it merges and becomes Gov. Nicholls through the Tremé fauberg and into the Quarter. These winding streets roughly mark the path of the Indian portage discovered by the Le Moyne brothers in 1699. There are many stories about this episode in the histories of New Orleans. Most of them relate that the brothers Le Moyne were shown the portage by a Choctaw a few days after their arrival at Pointe du Mardi Gras. In 1699, but as has been shown, the Choctaw country was far to the north of the river’s mouth, and it seemed strange to this writer that such a far-away native would be around to use the portage. The mystery was settled by Ms. Edna Frieberg in her 1980 work on colonial Bayou St. John (Freiberg, Edna B. Bayou St. John in Colonial Louisiana. 1980). Herein she makes it clear that Iberville’s party had encountered a hunting party of Bayougoula Indians a few miles upstream from their first campsite at Bayou Mardi Gras. It was a guide from this party that “ led him (Iberville) six leagues above the campsite where the Native pointed out the river-end of a portage path which he said led back to where the French had anchored their ships (Ship Island)” (Ibid. p.13). The portage, about 2 miles long, became the raison d’etre (the main reason) for the City of New Orleans. It was a quick connection from the river to Lake Pontchartrain and then out to the Gulf. From Bienville’s point of view (he had taken over administration of the colony upon his brother’s early demise in 1706), the establishment of the city on the river was for the purpose of controlling the river and securing it against the British and Spanish colonial powers. However, the first high ground above the mouth of the river, and the logical place to put a city would be about 200 miles upriver, where Baton Rouge is today. In the viewpoint of French colonial policy. seeking control of the mouth of the river, this was much too far from the river’s mouth to exert any reasonable control. Bienville’s problem in establishing a post downriver from Baton Rouge was the land south of Bayou Manchac. Here was a natural levee along the river backed by swamps stretching as far as one can see, a spongy no-man’s land that was not fit to hold a post. Further complicating the placement of a suitable stronghold were the endless twists and turns of the river. At the present day town of White Castle, the Mississippi makes one of its incessant loops and essentially turns eastward for the rest of its route to the Gulf. Now, instead of an east bank and a west bank, the river in real terms has north and south banks (although, for simplicity’s sake, the banks retain the titles East and West). From here to the Gulf, the north side becomes a marsh between river and lake(s), especially as it comes closer to New Orleans. Behind the natural levee on the West Bank (the south side), the land is virtually all marsh down to the Gulf of Mexico. Through these natural levees, the river occasionally cut a channel to help distribute the flow from the huge river system into the delta lands and the Gulf. These “dis-tributaries” carried the sand, clay, and silt, the trees and other flotsam that built up the delta into what is today south Louisiana. These distributaries also give Louisiana another of it’s nicknames, “The Bayou State”. Below Baton Rouge, the Mississippi punched the crevasses which became the Bayous Manchac, LaFourche, Trepagnier, Tchoupitoulas, Seignette, Bienvenue, and Sauvage (as well as many others). Bayou Manchac connected the Mississippi to the Amite River and then on to Lake Maurepas. Bayou Lafourche, of course, created Louisiana between the Mississippi and the Atchafalaya Swamp. Trepagnier, west of New Orleans, and Bienvenue to the east drained the delta into Lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne. Seignette gave us Jefferson Parish. But it was the Tchoupitoulas/Sauvage Bayou that created the land that would become New Orleans.

To be continued and finished within 2 weeks. Meanwhile, if you care to learn more about the Natives of SE Louisiana, check out the podcasts, or Tripods, offered by WWNO radio, 89.9 FM commemorating the New Orleans Tricentennial. The final episode in the series is specifically about and by Louisiana Natives and the descendants of the people of Brubancha. It makes for great listening. The Tripod podcasts can be accessed at

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Prelude to Louisiana, 1698, Part IV

To summarize the New Orleans “Indian Question” then, in the first twenty years of the eighteenth century, today’s city and its metropolitan area were populated by several small groups or “tribes” of Natives mostly speaking dialects of Choctaw. The Quinipissa and/or the Acolapissa (probably one and the same) definitely lived on Bayou St. John before 1700. By 1718, the Bayougoula had absorbed the Mougoulascha; while the Chaouacha, and the Ouascha had either become extinct or been absorbed as well. The Tangipahoa and the Tchoupitoulas also were gone or had merged with the Bayougoula. Since all of these groups were related in one way or another, it is probable that the original New Orleans Indians can be called the Quinipissa Group with another kin group to the west called the Chitimacha. In the two decades between the founding of Louisiana (1699) and the building of New Orleans (1718), these groups had been reduced by warfare, slave raids, and disease. Regarding the other tribes of Louisiana, those not native to the New Orleans area but who remain in Louisiana today, some Choctaw had migrated south to the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain during the French colonial period. The main body of the Choctaw nation remained in north central Mississippi, with the Creek immediately to their south and east and the Chickasaw east and north of both groups. The Tunica essentially stayed in their original homeland around the confluence of the Red and the Mississippi, later to be joined by their kinsmen, the Biloxi. The Houma moved west from the “baton rouge” on the Mississippi to lower Bayou LaFourche, where they live today.

The Houma, the Tunica-Biloxi, as well as the actual Choctaws, had been trading with the French at Biloxi and Mobile for nearly twenty years by the time New Orleans was established. The Indians of Louisiana and New Orleans were a crucial, if not essential, part of the French colonial experience. Indeed, it is safe to say that without the Native Americans along the lower Mississippi and the bayous, there would have been no French colonial Louisiana. Over the course of those first formative decades, Bienville and other government officials sent their soldiers to winter among the Natives because they could not afford to feed them. Indian trade goods, especially deerskins and tobacco, formed a vital component of the exports to France during these years (Usner, passim). Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the American Indian contribution to the emergent Creole culture must not be overlooked – the food. Beyond sheer survival, the Louisiana Natives provided the French settlers with some of the ingredients that would become essential to Creole cuisine. By far, the most famous is sassafras, or to be more precise, ground sassafras leaves. Called in Louisiana, file’ or gumbo file’ (pronounced fee-lay), the spice gives its particular flavor and thickening properties to Creole cuisine’s signature dish, Gumbo, either seafood or poultry. Other culinary contributions include the vast array of game and varied ways to prepare it. They introduced the French to the “Three Sisters” of Native agriculture – corn, squash, and beans (including the red kidney beans) – and how to grow them together for the best yield. No Creole menu would be complete without the immeasurable varieties of Louisiana seafood. The placement of New Orleans, a virtual island between fresh, brackish, and salty sea water gave the Creoles, through the Indians, access to a huge selection of finfish, shellfish, and edible crustaceans. Another universal symbol of the Louisiana menu, the red crawfish, was the totem animal of the Houma Indians. {“1718: The Cookbook of the Petticoat Rebellion” provides a great selection of recipes and historical data and trivia on this fascinating and flavorful topic}.

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