Love this blog on everything Louisiana, Cajun, and Creole!
Antebellum, Bagatelle, Bagatelle: A Novel by Maurice Denuziere, beach, Bed and Breakfast, book, Burnside, Cajun, Civil War, Fourth of July, France, French, house moving, Louisiana, Maurice Denuziere, Plantation, plantation country, Plaquemine Point, reading, St. Francisville, The Cabin Restaurant, The Cajun Village Cottages, travel, vacation
This week, the week after the Fourth of July, is usually a pretty good week for a vacation. I always enjoy relaxing on vacation with a good book, whether I’m at the beach, in the mountains, or hiding out in a cozy bed and breakfast down here in Louisiana’s famous Plantation Country. One of my all time favorite books is Bagatelle: A Novel by Maurice Denuziere. The book is a historical fiction based in Louisiana around the St. Francisville area. Here’s the description from the jacket:
“Bagatelle by Maurice Denuziere, Translated from the French by June P. Wilson. Her name was Caroline. Her beauty was exceptional, her passions and ambitions unquenchable. Her resolve: to become mistress of the great southern plantation named Bagatelle, located not far from old New Orleans. His name was Clarence Dandridge. He was a bachelor, slender, handsome, a man of probity, the catch of Louisiana. He was also a man with a terrible secret that prevented him from loving and marrying any woman, a man who desired but could not possess the most desirable woman of the antebellum South, Caroline. So begins this international best seller written in the grand tradition of the great romantic southern novels. It is a story filled with danger and death, war and pestilence, a story of an unforgettable heroine, Caroline, and hero, Clarence, and their successful struggle to overcome personal and historical adversity.”
The book begins in the early 1800s and follows the happenings and people of Bagatelle Plantation. The original Bagatelle Plantation (see picture above) was located much closer to where The Cabin is in Burnside and moved in the 1970s to Plaquemine Point by barge, about 20 miles upriver from Burnside. Originally published in French in 1898, Denuziere’s novel has served as a way to get to know Louisiana for French citizens for the last 100+ years. In fact, when I was working at Bocage Plantation a few years ago, we had French guests who said as much and recommended the book to me.
So if you’re on vacation and looking for a good read and are interested in Louisiana history, I highly recommend Bagatelle. You won’t regret it!
Looks like a great recipe, especially down here in Louisiana for all the duck hunters. Replace the Toulouse sausage with some good, fresh andouille if you have access to it. Give it a try!
I think the Dog gave me this idea. I don’t have any cannellini beans in the pantry. I’ve got 2 kinds of hominy and chickpeas. In addition, normally I would have used duck legs instead of duck breasts for the cassoulet, preferring to reserve the duck breasts for searing and eating rare. However, I have so many duck breasts! And these weren’t Jean Louis’ anyway but of an inferior but okay supermarket quality.
This cassoulet turned out well, even with the chickpeas. In fact, in was fabulous 🙂 I had a bonus of Toulouse sausages in the freezer and seared the fat from 3 duck breasts, using two in the cassoulet and reserving one for sandwiches or a salad later. I browned the sausages in some of the reserved duck fat and also used some to saute the onions, garlic and carrots.
All of my stove top casseroles and tajines are…
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American, Antiques, C & C Treasures, china, chromo lithographic decorations, David Haviland, France, French, French china, Haviland China, kaolin, Limoges, local, New York, porcelain, The Cajun Village
Amongst the many shops in The Cajun Village is C & C Treasures, which is specializes in local and regional antiques. They have many lovely pieces, none more so than the set of Haviland China in the picture above. The pieces are absolutely gorgeous, so I thought it was worth a share. Here’s a brief history of David Haviland, the founder of Haviland China in the early 1840s, from the company’s website for you. He was a key figure in the development and history of porcelain china in France and the United States, and his company is still a leader in that field today:
“David Haviland was an American businessman from New York dealing with porcelain in 1839. One day his shop door opened and a customer came in carrying a small package that was not only to change David Haviland’s life, but was to have a profound effect on the whole china industry and on the china ware in thousands of American homes. He could tell at once that it had come from France. But from what part of France? Examine it as he did, the cup had absolutely no mark of identification. Familiar with imported china as he was, the cup baffled him. He had not the slightest notion of its source.
“Once David Haviland had seen the cup there was nothing to do but go in search of it. He came finally to the city of Limoges, where he found the match of his cup. That this china was made in Limoges was no accident. In 1765, in the quaint nearby town of St. Yriex, kaolin had been found. Kaolin is a very pure white clay known from time immemorial in China, that had enabled Chinese artisans through the centuries to make their rare and marvelous pottery. With excitement, satisfaction, and high hopes David Haviland arranged to export his long sought French china so that he could supply it in New York.
“It was from Limoges, then, that David Haviland began importing this fine French china. Unfortunately, however, his pleasure in realizing an ambition was to be short lived. French manufacturers whose factories were of limited capacity were unwilling to make American shapes and decorations. So David Haviland, loath to accept defeat, decided upon a bold step. He resolved to move to France, build a factory in Limoges, and there make china in accordance with his own ideas.
“Throughout the next years the Haviland factories devoted themselves to the production of functional china that continued to have extraordinary success. At the same time experimental work went on with ever higher standards of artistry and craftsmanship as its goals. When in 1873, three Frenchmen originated an important new process of decorating china, David Haviland was quick to realize its merits and with the resources at his command he considerably improved it. He engaged famous artists of their day and encouraged them to use their talents to make this new decorating a memorable achievement. Other experiments were successful, too, and it was the Havilands who introduced chromo lithographic decorations on porcelain, a method afterwards followed by practically every china manufacturer in the world. In the meantime, David Haviland’s son Theodore followed in his father’s steps.
“Shortly after 1890 Theodore Haviland built one of the largest and best factories in Limoges, and introduced every new method in machinery decorating, and firing. Skilful French china makers were placed in charge of manufacturing, great ceramic artists headed the decorating departments. Inheriting his father’s genius and enterprise, Theodore Haviland rapidly became a leader in the making of fine china.”
The factories still operate today in France and the United States, producing top-notch porcelain and other items.
We have a lot of antiques and collectibles from years gone by here at The Cabin Restaurant. Today, the owner, Al Robert, brought me the meat cleaver and stakes in the picture above. They belonged to the grandfather of a certain Mr. Falgoust, a family friend of the Roberts, who was a butcher. In fact, the art of butchery was prominent in the Falgoust family – Mr. Falgoust’s great-grandfather and father was also a butcher, and the cleaver had been passed down through the generations. The elder Falgoust brought it with him when he emigrated from France in 1891, which is how it came to Louisiana.
Mr. Falgoust’s grandfather was born in 1869 in Labarthe de Neste, France, which is in the Hauté-Pyrenees mountain range near the border with Spain. His ship traveled from the port of Bordeaux to New Orleans. Once he went through customs, Mr. Falgoust’s grandfather settled in Arabi on the West Bank of the city, where he continued his trade as a butcher.
The cleaver and stakes are over 200 years old. The stakes were used to hold the large chunks of meat down on the chopping board so that it would not slip as the Falgoust’s were butchering.