Friday, March 5, 2010


 Edmund McIlhenny settled on Avery Island in the late 1800;s  and discovered a pillar of salt. It was a natural formation as deep as Mt. Everest is tall. However, a friend gave him a handful of peppers from South America. He planted them and decided to make a sauce. The result? Tabasco Sauce, a unique hot sauce no one has duplicated. It takes so little to flavor food I was amazed that 700,000 bottles a day go through the McIlhenny Plant on Avery Island, which is still operated by Edmund's decendants.

The process is pretty simple. The peppers at the peak of ripeness are ground with local salt and aged in barrels. The barrels have holes drilled in the top, covered with a thick layer of salt, and the fermentation process takes about 3 years. When its removed, the mixture is stirred for 28 days with vinegar before bottling.

One grandson,  E.A. McIlhenny, a botanist, saved egrets from extinction. The birds were slaughtered by the millions by hat making hunters for their beautiful feathers. His breeding grounds today, used by egrets and herons, attracts 10,000 birds to the nesting platforms he built for them. The bird preserve and botanical garden E.A. McIlhenny built,  hauls in tons of twigs for the birds nesting materials each year since their isn't enough natural growth to support them on the island.

The egrets recognize there is not enough food on the island to support them and their babies so they do not eat any food from the island. They range far and wide over the bayous to feed leaving the island food for the weaker hatchlings.

The Jungle Garden and bird sanctuary is open all year for tourists. Over 1,000 different specimens of camellias, many bamboos, shrubs, and plants from all over the world are kept here. Old natural oaks dominate the scene along with man made lagoons that attract much wildlife. Beauty is the result.


After leaving the island, we drove to Del Cambre, the jumbo shrimp capital of the United States. The shrimpers gather here at the peak of shrimp season by the hundreds. Their festival is held in August.

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