Looking to experience the real Deep South and authentic America? Look no further than a visit to rural Louisiana, this is as real as it gets! This is a corner of one of the wealthiest countries in the world that the travel agencies and politicians do not advertise however, I assure you a journey into the quieter areas of this beautiful state will be an experience you will not forget, full of unique experiences, colourful characters and tasty treats!
One evening whilst we were staying in Vicksburg, Mississippi, we found ourselves with a few hours to kill so my Dad suggested a quick hop over the state border into Louisiana to go for a drink, and so, we found ourselves at ‘The World’ in Delta.
The first time my parents and I lived in Mississippi, some twenty plus years ago, the legal age to drink in the state was 21. However, in nearby Louisiana, the drinking age was only 18. I remember stories of kids at my local high school making the trip over to The World, or nearby Daiquiri World in Tallulah, to enjoy a few alcoholic beverages, only to be arrested and handcuffed upon journeying back into the Vicksburg.
I have visited The World previously however, for a first timer like Neil, it really is a wonder to behold. The bar is, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere; a few seconds drive off the interstate, the run down wooden structure with a ramshackle tin roof is situated next to a railway line and little else. Upon opening the door, a small crack of light is thrown across the dark room, only lit up by a few gambling machines and a juke box, and the locals sitting at the long bar all turn to stare at the newcomers, particularly if you have a British accent!! The décor of the bar is decidedly ‘country’, various pieces of football memorabilia adorn the cork walls along with thousands of signatures of those who have partied there.
On the day we visited, it was for drinks only. The bar has several machines selling luminous daiquiri, hurricanes and margaritas right next to a drive through window. Seriously, you cannot make this stuff up!!! Neil was astounded to see a guy pull up to the window in his beat up truck, down his can of beer, and order a daiquiri to go….only in the South!! Apart from the sickeningly sweet cocktails served in plastic cups, which I grudgingly admit to love (especially after a couple!!), domestic larger is available and little else.
I have eaten at the bar previously and it is astoundingly good value. If you are expecting gourmet, or even high quality food, you have definitely come to the wrong place! The World specialises in cheap, honest, grills such as massive steaks or juicy burgers. The prices are very hard to beat and it is definitely worth a visit, just for the atmosphere. The World is so different to anything we have in the UK, it is almost like being on a film set of a deep south local bar, and a pretty good one at that.
Our next venture into Louisiana was on our trip south to New Orleans. On the journey, we planned to stop for lunch at a fantastic seafood place we used to love visiting, Middendorf’s in Akers Louisiana. Sadly, Middendorfs was closed but, this allowed us to discover the little gem that is Fatboy’s Seafood Kitchen situated just a couple of doors down.
As it was lunchtime on a weekday, Fat Boy’s was very busy with locals grabbing a bite to eat. As there are only a few tables inside the main building, we ate in the covered outside area which luckily had a few free tables. Be warned, if you eat outside you may well get bitten to shreds by gnats like I did as this place is situated fairly close to the water but that is one of the experiences of visiting rural Louisiana! The restaurant is fairly basic with wooden picnic tables and concrete flooring but, for me, this only added to the charm of the place!
Most dishes at the popular eatery are fried, from Alligator to Catfish and oysters to burgers, most of which are available as either a ‘sandwich’, or a ‘dinner’, meaning that they are accompanied by fries and served in a basket as opposed to a bun! Most of us opted for ‘Po’Boys’, a type of sandwich associated with the Deep South.
I hear you asking, “What on earth is a Po’Boy?! You have mentioned them several times now and I still don’t have a clue what they are!!”. A po’boy, otherwise known as a poor boy, is basically a sandwich served in a particular type of baguette, kind of like a very soft French stick. Po’Boys are always almost served with a hot, often deep fried, filling, most commonly shrimp or oyster, and are accompanied by lettuce, tomato and sometimes pickles. The origins of the term vary widely. Rumour has it that the name of the famous sandwich sprung from a coffee shop situated in the French Market in New Orleans. The proprietors of Martin Brothers Coffee Stand had formerly worked as street car conductors; upon the motor men and conductors strike in 1929, the two brothers offered to feed the poor men affected by the strike free of charge and so, supplied the strikers with large sandwiches, hereby known as po’boys. Po’boy sandwiches are now a lunchtime staple across the Deep South and beyond.
Back to my meal at Fatboy’s. I opted for a half and half po’boy, half alligator and half catfish. It was delicious!! The batter was crisp but the taste did not overpower the meat and fish. The bread was beautifully soft and the filling generous; it was also extremely reasonably priced as you would expect for a local eatery. I don’t think I had tried alligator prior to my experience at Fatboy’s but I thoroughly enjoyed it! I would highly recommend a visit here whilst journeying south to New Orleans.
Louisiana is a beautiful state, from the hustle and bustle of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, to quiet bayous full of crocodiles and endless countryside, it is certainly a state of contradictions but one worth visiting to find the ‘real’ America.
Places to visit:
The World, 106 Highway 193, Delta, Louisiana, 71282, (318)-633-9791
- Middendorfs, 30160 Highway 51 South, Akers, Louisiana, 70421, (985) 386-6666
- Fatboy’s Seafood Kitchen, 30160 Highway 51 South, Akers, Louisiana, 70421, (985) 386-5823