It's pepper harvesting season at the Tabasco factory on Avery Island, LA. These pepper fields have been tended and harvested for sauce-making by members of the McIllhenny family since the mid-1860s, and every family member and factory worker I met had plenty of inspiring stories about Tabasco's legacy. As I toured the fields under the hot afternoon sun last week, I learned how to find the peppers that are ready for picking: only specimens of the very brightest red shade should be pulled off the stem. Novice pickers are given "le petit bâton rouge" — a stick with the ripe red shade painted on it — to match against the growing peppers. If the stripe matches, it's time for the pepper to go into the basket. — Anna Stockwell
It was interesting to read about something we saw with our very own eyes when we visited the Tabasco factory, the stick with a red stripe painted on it.....the exact color of a pepper ready for picking. Twice we enjoyed Elderhostel programs set in Louisiana. One was studying the music of the Mississippi River area...... blues, jazz, honky tonk, gospel, Dixieland, Civil War music. If you like that kind of thing and we do, we definitely do, it was a wonderful experience. Our mode of transportation both times was the now defunct River Barge and what splendid memories we have. It's easy to get the two trips confused, but I think the visit to Avery Island was when we were studying the Cajun culture.
Mr. Bob frequently tells people about the below picture. We've no idea why his nose matches the red stripe on the stick. I longed to bring home some of the half barrels in which the Tabasco was cured, but settled for some packages of "red hots", thinking they'd be spicy. I was disappointed when I discovered they were the regular, cinnamon candies. I can't think of any other note of dismay in either trip, though.
|“He chopped up peppers, mixed them with vinegar and Avery Island salt, put the mixture in wooden barrels to age and funneled the resulting sauce into secondhand cologne bottles.”|