Scenes from Boondocks Road, life on the bayou

Sometimes on the highway of life, there are certain roads you just have to go down…

Driving back from East Texas yesterday, Tracie P and I decided on a whim to find out what lay at the end of Boondocks Road. Yes, Boondocks Road.

A sign told us about Leon’s Fish Camp. But we knew there had to be more to the story.

What we found was a beautiful bayou and friendly people who waved and smiled at us.

Because of the flooding that hurricane season inevitably brings, the houses are on stilts and many are connected to Boondocks Road by bridges.

The extreme weather of East Texas will most certainly put the fear of G-d in you.

Of course, everywhere you go in Texas, folks are proud of their state.

Until recently, as I discovered this morning on the internets, Boondocks Road was called Jap Road. The road had been named to honor early-twentieth century Japanese settlers who had taught their neighbors how to farm rice on the bayou. Today, rice is the predominant agricultural crop of this area. The locals greatly appreciated and recognized Yoshio Mayumi for what he had done for their community. But he and his family were forced to leave between the two world wars when the U.S. government forbade foreigners from owning land in our country (the 1924 Immigration Act; sound familiar?). Jap was not a racial slur at the time and was a commonly accepted abbreviation for Japanese (the historical entries in the Oxford English Dictionary provide hard evidence of this). In 2004, after more than ten years of lobbying, local activists were successful in their campaign to rename the road. The road’s residents chose Boondocks, after a catfish restaurant that had once operated there. (You can find all of this in the Wiki entry, including references to articles in the Christian Science Monitor and on the CNN website.)

Another hour down the highway of life, Tracie P had lox and latkes and I had white fish salad at our favorite Houston deli, Ziggy’s. Cousins Joanne and Marty and Aunt Holly and uncle Terry and cousin Grant joined. The white fish was delicious.

I’m glad they changed the name of Jap Road. But I wish they would have renamed it Mayumi Road, to remember the farm and the people that reshaped the agricultural landscape of East Texas in a more innocent and more earnest time.

But, then again, if it weren’t called Boondocks Road, we probably wouldn’t have felt the irresistible urge to go down it.

BTW, with this post, I’ve added a new category to Do Bianchi: de rebus texanis. Buona domenica ya’ll!

An East Texas Thanksgiving (a marriage of Sangiovese and down-home fixings)

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Way back when, in the late 19th century, did the “Iron Baron” Bettino Ricasoli know that Sangiovese would make for such a great Thanksgiving wine?

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Uncle Tim’s brined and roasted turkey. Brining is the secret to keeping the breast and dark meat moist and flavorful when roasted. Aunt Ida Jean and Uncle Tim hosted all 31 of us!

jeremy parzen

Uncle Tim’s cornbread dressing, including chopped hard-boiled eggs.

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Aunt Gladys’s homemade biscuits.

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Aunt Ida Jean’s sweet potato pie (I was surprised at how well the Chianti Rufina paired with this dish).

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Mrs. B’s eight layer salad. (For those of ya’ll who don’t know what an eight layer salad is, have a look at this Wikipedia entry.)

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Tracie B’s green beans sautéed with onion and garlic and seasoned with nutmeg.

Thank you, Family B, for making me and Mama Judy part of your Thanksgiving celebration! :-)