Monday, April 6, 2009


Remember Jack and Alma, from An Acadiana Love Affair, over in my sidebar? I've mentioned before that they were my first in-the-flesh examples of people who were truly "living the good life." Years ago, Alma told me about the Cajun hoe-downs called fais do-do. It was one of the many times that I have found myself in a funk over the years, feeling that I was just born into the wrong place and time. I could have made a great Cajun!

In the book Eula Mae's Cajun Kitchen: Cooking Through the Seasons on Avery Island, by Eula Mae Dore and Marcella R. Bienvenu, there is a wonderful description of these country dances:

A fais do-do (FAY-DOE-DOE) means to "go to sleep" or "sleep." But, in reality, it's like a Cajun hoedown, a country dance. Because there were few public dance halls, families often gathered on Saturdays, bringing all the children, even very young babies, to enjoy eating as well as dancing. The music, sometimes referred to by the locals as "chanky-chank," was provided by an accordion, a fiddle, and a "ting-a-ling," or triangle. The favored dance of the Cajuns is called a two-step and is akin to a waltz, but livened up with little jig steps.

"Mais oui," says Eula Mae, "we sometimes danced until dawn. And sometimes, we danced outside under the trees because the houses were rather small.La poussière - the dust- would fly under our feet!"Babies were often put to sleep in another room with a grandmother or other older family member to keep them quiet while the band played on. But sometimes, a mother would hold her baby in her lap until she got up to dance, handing her child to someone else.Oh, yes, a fais do-do was a good time - a good time for everyone to catch up on the news, see cousins and other relatives, and, of course, eat! More often than not, everyone brought a dish. One family might bring a gumbo or stew; another supplied seafood to boil or fish to fry, and there were always sweet treats, like cakes, cookies, or some kind of dessert made with local fruits."

As it turns out, I wasn't born in the wrong time, just the wrong place. Last night our friends Heather and Marc hosted, in honor of their 10th anniversary, a "Reception Re-do" at Fischer Hall. It seems their actual wedding reception was cut short by a typhoon, and they had promised themselves a re-do at some future date. And so, I am thrilled to inform you, the fais do-do is alive and well in the Texas Hill Country!

P.S. The top photo is of our host and hostess. Since you can't really see Marc's face, just picture my brother Bill - they could be stunt doubles for one another!


lexlane said...

Ok, if I ever manage to snag myself a husband, we are throwing one of these!

Hill Country Hippie said...

Coolest thing is, we've got another one to go to on Thursday! Have I mentioned lately how much I love living here?