“To some, the mix of Asian and Cajun may sound bizarre but to people in South Louisiana, it feels like the next perfect step into culinary bliss. “
In the mid 1970’s after the fall of Saigon, a large wave of Vietnamese made their way down to New Orleans. There are a few reasons that made the incoming Vietnamese feel as if this could be the perfect place to call home. The top reasons were the very familiar subtropical climate and the large Catholic population in the New Orleans area. Yes, most of the Vietnamese in South Louisiana are Roman Catholic and were brought here by Catholic Charities. The Vietnamese community now makes up nearly 3% of the total population in New Orleans.
As the Vietnamese started into the local work force, they began to work in a variety of businesses. Now the majority of the population is in the restaurant and seafood industry. Vietnamese cuisine was heavily influenced by the French from the get-go, so the transition to Cajun was a no-brainer and the wave of fusion cooking has been steadily growing. It seems as if you can’t look for a recipe without seeing some type low-sodium fusion recipe or something titled Casian hot wings. The locals enjoying this fusion already have a taste for seafood and now most of them have grown-up with the large Vietnamese population, so it is a very comfortable mix. Whether it’s a bahn mi, a Vietnamese po-boy, or a steamy bowl of pho seasoned with low sodium Cajun seasoning that you are looking for, you don’t have to go far. The local New Orleans people seem to love this fusion. The Vietnamese have also taken the beloved King Cake and made it a little better with the best king cake of 2017 award going to a Vietnamese bakery in New Orleans East.
If you are interested in trying a fusion recipe do not hesitate to add a Slap Ya Mama product like our fantastic hot sauce or one of our seasoning blends like the white pepper or low-sodium. You will be pleased!
Tony “TW” Walker building toy boxes
Holiday season is always a time of giving and that holds true here, at Slap Ya Mama. Over the past couple of years we have held a toy drive at our annual Slap Ya Mama Christmas Party. Each person attending our party was required to bring a new toy with them for the toy drive. We would then collect all these toys and donate them to our local church. It was a great success and we would usually donate anywhere from 100 to 150 toys to the church, who would then distribute them to those children in need around Evangeline Parish. Everyone was satisfied with the outcome but we felt like we could do something a little more.
This year we have created “Mama’s Toy Box” to help facilitate the gathering of toys for the children of Evangeline Parish. Our father, TW, hand built 11 toy boxes and stamped them with our “Mama’s Toy Box” logo. He and our mother, Jennifer, distributed them to 11 designated locations throughout Ville Platte, LA. The toy boxes will be available to collect toys until December 14th. So please, if you’re in the Evangeline Parish area, pass by one of the listed designated spots around Ville Platte and make a toy donation to Mama’s Toy Box.
We have once again partnered with the First Baptist Church of Ville Platte and they will be distributing the toys to the in need children of Evangeline Parish. Daniel Holsomback, the Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church of Ville Platte, had this to say about the distribution of toys, “Our goal is to help as many children as possible with a dire need. We compile our list of children based on information we receive from the Evangeline Parish School Board Office as well as from some of our own investigation.”
With your donation and the help of our partners, we feel as though we will be able to provide many many children with a joyful Christmas this holiday season. Thank you in advance for your help and we wish everyone the Merriest of Christmases!
Jennifer Walker and Mama’s Toy Box Partners. Look for these toy boxes at the locations below to make a charitable drop off.
Mama’s Toy Box Drop Off Locations:
Slap Ya Mama Cajun Products
1679 West Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
First Baptist Church of Ville Platte
750 West Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce
306 West Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Evangeline Bank & Trust
497 West Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
1311 West Lasalle St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Village De Memoire
1001 N Reed St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Evangeline Parish Clerk of Court
200 Court St#104
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Villle Platte City Hall
126 E Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
5592 Vidrine Rd
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Lemoine & Associates
423 E Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
841 West Main St
Ville Platte, LA 70586
It’s time for an old fashioned Louisiana Mardi Gras! Fiddles and accordions are blasting, and chickens are being tossed so high you’d almost think they were flying. Costumed revelers who look like they came straight out of medieval history sporting fringed and wire mesh feudal outfits on horseback, chasing chickens and begging for ingredients for a huge communal gumbo. Louisiana Cajun Country’s Courir de Mardi Gras – a tradition that dates all the way back to medieval celebrations in France.
Traditions of Louisiana Cajun Mardi Gras
Outside of the stunningly decorated floats and crowned kings and queens you find in New Orleans Carnival festivities, Cajun Mardi Gras is a festival of French origins and a celebration of amazing gumbo – and it all begins on Mardi Gras Day.
Courir de Mardi Gras – Photo courtesy of cajunzydecophotos
On the morning of Fat Tuesday, costumed revelers take the streets wearing handmade medieval jester dresses sporting capuchons hats from French traditions that mocked nobility in the medieval era, and bishop miters for the Catholic papal state. It was all a way to escape the roles of life on a daily basis and live like you don’t have a care in the world. The hustle and bustle of everyday life was drowned away by the sounds of Cajun bands playing and the smell of delectable Cajun country cooking. When the horseback revelers took the streets, Courir de Gras began.
Courir de Mardi Gras
The main event of Cajun Mardi Gras. Costumed revelers on horseback are led by the capitaine of Mardi Gras in the traditional celebration of Courir de Gras, where they’d travel from house to house begging for ingredients for a communal gumbo that would feed the town. But you wouldn’t just receive the ingredients. You need to work for it – and by work we mean an assortment of rituals that included dancing atop their horses, climbing trees, and making chicken noises. Homeowners would then toss live chickens into the air for revelers to chase and swing around their heads. The horsemen are joined by men riding on chicken wagons and trailers to catch the most chickens for the communal gumbo while offering cold beer and sausage, and providing musical entertainment for homes they passed by. Thankfully, you don’t have to wait for the race to be over before the gumbo is prepared. The food is now prepped prior and during the race while awaiting its last ingredient once the race is over – chicken.
Each town in Cajun country has their own unique way of celebrating Courir de Gras. The towns feature various foods and events that really bring out the Cajun experience you’re looking for. For example, in Basile, you’ll find a courir for the kids held a few days before Fat Tuesday.
Parade and Musical Entertainment
Once the run comes to an end, the Mardi Gras parades soon follow. In Cajun country, you won’t find parade floats featuring intricate gowns or elaborate mockups. You will instead find homemade costumes and handmade decorated floats pulled by trucks rather than tractors. The parades are also accompanied by traditional music featuring Cajun bands playing the fiddle, accordion, guitar, and the must-hear washboard.
Cajun Mardi Gras is definitely a sight to see. If you want to experience something different than New Orleans Carnivale, everyone is welcome to come down to Cajun Country. Spend Mardi Gras this year in Cajun country for an experience you’ll never forget. Just read what National Geographic’s Young Explorer Caroline Gerdes had to say from her experience going from New Orleans Carnival to Cajun Mardi Gras.
Representatives of the popular Cajun food products company, Slap Ya Mama, have been informed by Cox Sports Television (CST) that the NFL will no longer allow the Slap Ya Mama Red Zone in the Saints’ final preseason game because of concerns about the Slap Ya Mama name.
On Tuesday, August 19th, Marc Leunissen, Director of Sales, Cox Media Louisiana sent an email to the advertising representative for Walker & Sons, Inc., Slap Ya Mama Cajun Products, stating, “In light of the domestic violence issues facing the NFL, they have instructed CST pull the Slap Ya Mama logo from our enhancements in the last game, Thursday, August 28…”. It is Walker & Sons, Inc. understanding that Cox Media Louisiana received this communication from the NFL on Monday, August 18th.
The NFL league office followed up with a memo to all NFL teams on Thursday, August 21st announcing that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “has determined that no virtual sineage will be permitted to appear on the playing field or its environs in any NFL game telecasts effective immediately and for the remainder of this preseason…”
The memo cited three concerns as the basis for the ruling, including “Certain advertisers and brands are not consistent with League standards and messaging.”
“We’ve been doing this for three years with no complaints. People who know our brand ‘get it’ but all of a sudden, after three years, the NFL doesn’t. We are really shaking our heads over this one! We’re fun loving and enjoy great tasting food. We also love football, especially Saints football! Maybe they just don’t understand our culture. What a shame!” says Jack D. Walker, Vice President of Marketing, Walker & Sons, Inc.
Walker says “Slap Ya Mama” “refers to a loving slap on the back and a kiss on the cheek to your mama as a thank you for preparing another great tasting dish.”
Slap Ya Mama Cajun Products is owned by Jennifer Walker of Ville Platte, Louisiana and managed by her sons, Jack and Joe. Their father, Anthony “T.W.” Walker developed the seasoning. Jack recalls how the name came to be:
“After much discussion with family and friends, one name stuck with us, ‘Slap Ya Mama’. We were skeptical but then our mother, Jennifer, said, ‘No, it has to be Slap Ya Mama. It’s too good of a name and it really represents our food and culture,’” says Walker.
Walker says the NFL’s decision hurts them because the Slap Ya Mama Red Zone promotion is the company’s biggest advertising commitment of the year, and feedback from customers indicates it is very popular. The company’s Facebook page has more than 100,000 fans from all over the world.
“Our fans are fanatics and big advocates of Louisiana food culture. Our Facebook page is active, with people sharing food ideas, recommending products to friends, and using it as a place to celebrate and share the incredible food culture we have here in Louisiana”, Walker says.
Smoked Pure Pork Sausage
Our hometown, Ville Platte, Louisiana, is known for many things and embodies a Cajun culture unlike any other town in Louisiana. People from all over the world come to Ville Platte to experience our culture, our music and of course our world renowned food. But there is one thing that we are extremely proud of and well known for and that is our smoked meat. We are so well known for our smoked meat that we are considered to be the Smoked Meat Capital of the World.
We smoke pretty much anything and everything here in Ville Platte. From sausage to rabbit, meatballs to neck bones…we smoke it all. Some might say it’s overkill but once they are able to get a little taste of a dish that uses smoked meat, their mind quickly changes and they can never get enough. Cooking with smoked meat truly adds a unique flavor unlike any other and it is so flavorful and so ingrained into our Cajun heritage, I don’t think we would ever be able to cook without the use of smoked meats…or at least we wouldn’t want to.
With smoked meat being such a huge part of our heritage in Ville Platte, we celebrate it each year with a festival. Le Festival de la Viande Boucanee or the Smoked Meat Festival for those who don’t speak Cajun French, is held in June every year and offers visitors a variety of savory smoked meats to try, an incredible lineup of musicians and some of the best times one could have in Cajun country. Meat markets, restaurants and businesses from around the Ville Platte area set up booths at the Smoked Meat Festival each year for a chance at winning the World Championship Smoked Meat Cookoff. This is one of the most coveted titles in the Ville Platte area and isn’t easy to come by considering all of the amazing cooks who enter the competition. The Smoked Meat Festival is something everyone should experience and we hope you have the opportunity to do so one day.
If you ever find yourself in or around Ville Platte, Louisiana, I invite you to experience the smoked meat offerings at any one of the many Meat Markets around town. If you can’t make it to Ville Platte any time soon and still want to experience a little smoked meat from the Smoked Meat Capital of the World then I would suggest trying Teet’s Food Store. They have been servicing Ville Platte for almost 60 years now and like every other Meat Market in town, they offer some incredible smoked meats. They have an online store and can ship some of the best smoked meat to any destination in the USA. Be sure to use coupon code “onlythebest” at Teet’s Food Store and receive 15% off of your order.
Take care and keep having fun in the kitchen!
As today reminds us of much heartache and pain, let us not forget all of those we have lost. Let us not forget all of those brave service men and women who risked their lives to protect and save their fellow Americans, those strangers who looked into the face of death and took it upon themselves to become heroes and let us not forget all of the families who are without that special someone. On this very day, let us honor and remember all of those people with a moment of silence and prayer. As we raise our heads in remembrance, let us not forget how we came together as a united front against evil and that we can never be defeated when we become one…We are the United States of America.
Walker & Sons, Inc.
How Ville Platte got its somewhat unique name remains obscure in the minds of would-be historians seeking the solution thereof. Notations on the original plats of survey for the area that is now Ville Platte stated that surveyors had to use pirogues and flat boats to properly do their work. Consequently, those surveyors referred to it as ‘Flat Ville’ or ‘Flat Town’, both of which, when translated into French, should be “Ville Plat” but wound up ‘Ville Platte’. However, the name Ville Platte could have come from another source. In its early inception, the hamlet of Ville Platte was the first community on level land met by stagecoach travelers coming from the North. Conversely, it was the last level settled area seen by travelers journeying northward from Baton Rouge and Opelousas. North of it were the hills of North Louisiana and south of it was the Gulf Coastal Plain.The area around Ville Platte appears to have been first settled during the last half of the eighteenth century when Louisiana was under Spanish rule. The earliest record of settlement in the immediate area of Ville Platte was in the 1780’s.
Popular legend states the founder of Ville Platte was Marcellin Garand, an adjutant major in the Army of the French Empire, during the time of Napoleon. In 1824, Garand obtained one of the first two lots that were platted in what is now Ville Platte; a Doctor Robert Windex obtained the other lot. Those lots were obtained from the estate of William O’Donegan. This appears to be the actual beginning of, or the founding of, the present town of Ville Platte. The lots were located on the south side of the road that is today’s Main Street. Marcellin Garand operated a store and a tavern at the location that is today’s Evangeline Parish Library. It was a stopping place for travelers traveling from Opelousas to Alexandria. In the same local area was a blacksmith shop operated by a William Knox. A John McDaniel operated a place where lodging could be obtained.
This road upon which Ville Platte had its beginning was probably a much-traveled road. It was a somewhat ancient royal road in Spain’s New World Empire. This Spanish Trail came from the South of Opelousas and flowed northward through Bayou Chicot, Alexandria, Natchitoches, then on westward through Texas to San Antonio and thence to California, all areas at one time dominated by Spanish influence.
The first post office in Ville Platte was established in 1842 with Marcellin Garand as postmaster from then to 1848.
During this early period, the community functioned as a small trading center for the agricultural areas. The scattered inhabitants of the area were of French and Spanish extraction, but mostly French. There was also a sprinkling of English and Irish descendants who had probably migrated to Spain or France; the Irish seeking refuge when many Catholics were being persecuted in Ireland.
Being situated in a low-lying area, the community of Ville Platte suffered considerably from heavy rains flooding its main thoroughfare and outlying country roads. It was not until the 1920’s (some 65 years after the incorporation in 1854) that Ville Platte saw its first graveled road. The paving of the town’s main street was not until 1930 when the road from Opelousas to Ville Platte was finally paved.
Cabot Carbon Co. in Ville Platte
Ville Platte was incorporated on March 16th, 1858 by an act of the Louisiana Legislature, during the administration of Governor Robert C. Wickliffe. Act No. 97 of 1858, as it was known, was written in both French and English. The act made no provision for a mayor; there were five councilmen, and from their number they selected a ‘president of the council’. This remained the state of affairs until 1912 when Ville Platte volunteered to come under the general act governing Louisiana municipalities.
Residents of Ville Platte and the surrounding area were, and are today, predominantly Catholic. The Catholic Church was first established in Ville Platte in 1854. Education was sporadic in the area until the 1880’s when the Evangeline Academy was founded. In 1911 when Evangeline Parish was created out of Imperial St. Landry, the Academy became Ville Platte High School. With the creation of this new parish of Evangeline, Ville Platte was made the parish seat of government, a factor that was bound to cause an increase in the town’s population.
In 1900, Ville Platte had a population of 163. When the railroad came to Ville Platte in 1907, the community began to grow and develop. The town had now lost its ‘one-street’ status, and streets were laid out in a grid pattern, many of them dead-ending on Main Street. By 1910, the population had reached 603. By 1920, the number was a little over 1350.
It was in 1930 to 1940 that Ville Platte had its first boom. The population jumped from 1722 in 1930 to 3721 in 1940. This was due largely to the discovery of oil in the Tate Cove area about six miles north of Ville Platte. World War II served to increase the boom, and by 1950 the population reached the neighborhood of 6600. The discovery of oil brought about the establishment of oil field industries and a carbon black plant providing more employment opportunities for the Ville Platte citizens.
It took the discovery of oil in the immediate area and the effects of World War II to pull Ville Platte out of the dumps it was in, as a result of the Great Depression.
Chicot State Park
Another major accomplishment beneficial to Ville Platte’s economy was the creation of Chicot State Park, about seven miles north of the city. The park consists of 6500 acres of wooded area and rolling hills. Therein you’ll find a 2,500-acre lake studded with cypress trees. It is now known as Louisiana’s largest state park and is visited by thousands of people from all parts of the U.S.
Today, Ville Platte is rich in history, legend, agriculture, timber, natural resources, and in dedicated people. It is a colorful little city situated about 80 miles west of Baton Rouge and 45 miles south of Alexandria, on U.S. Highway 167. It’s population is now slightly over 10,000.
For More Information On Area Attractions:
The self-proclaimed smoked meats capital of the world, Ville Platte is also world famous for its modern-day jousting tournament, the incomparable Floyd’s Record Shop, and the magnificent Chicot State Park. It’s a magical place, no doubt—even by Louisiana’s high standards.
It was here, back in 1956, that Wilda Marie Fontenot Walker gave birth to Anthony Walker (affectionately known by friends and family as “TW”), the one-of-a-kind creator and sole originator of the award winning Slap Ya Mama brand seasoning—recommended for everything from popcorn to popcorn shrimp, breakfast to late night snacks, and gourmet foods to French fries. To this day,
TW has never once slapped his mama. To tell you the truth, he never even thought about it. Here’s how the story goes.
While running the Walker family deli, TW started his search for a seasoning that had a real Cajun pepper taste without the heavy salt content of the national brands. When he couldn’t find one, he did what folks in this part of the country (and in particular, Ville Platte) do best—he went to work and dreamed one up.
TW’s sons, Jack and Joe, were very young back then, and they loved rolling around and causing general bouts of mayhem, as kids of that age often do. So the Walkers put their boys to work rolling an antique glass pickle jar around the floor of the family deli for the express purpose of mixing their homegrown Cajun seasoning—the perfect combination of work and play, if ever there was one.
Everybody loved the Walkers’ Cajun seasoning so much, that pretty soon it needed a name. To the folks who came into the deli asking to take home the Cajun seasoning, TW would often proclaim,“When you use this seasoning, the food tastes so good, you will receive a loving “slap” on the back and a kiss on the cheek as a thank you for creating another great tasting Cajun dish.”
And that’s how the Walker & Son’s Cajun brand Slap Ya Mama was born in the proud Cajun town of Ville Platte, Louisiana.