Unexpected things sometimes come from unexpected places. On the other hand, junk shops more than other stores do tend to collect surprising tidbits from far and wide. One of those tidbits, probably stashed in a cardboard box and tossed in the trunk of a car made its way from a small town on the east coast of Florida to a small inland town 700 miles west in the heart Louisiana’s Cajun country. Driving south from Baton Rouge on Friday we headed to Breaux Bridge, a small community north of Lafayette.
We were looking for Hadacol glasses. My guess, nine out of ten people will automatically say, “What are Hadacol glasses?” It’s been a long time since any of us have seen either Hadacol or a set of glasses bearing its name. Hadacol was an old patent medicine of the late 1940s and early 50s, a “vitamin” drink containing twelve percent alcohol and concocted by Louisiana State Senator, Dudley LeBlanc, man with neither medical or pharmacist degree. For a time it was a hugely successful patent medicine with many spinoffs, one being the Hadacol glasses. Nothing fancy, just small clear drinking glasses with the name Hadacol in blue letters. An example is seen in the lower right of the photograph below.
Sure enough, a set of five glasses turned up in one Breaux Bridge store and just as I was reaching for my wallet, the proprietor said the glasses were $60 apiece; $300 for a set of five. Even a longtime desire for those very glasses was not enough to bring that amount of money forth, and unfortunately the glasses were not anything the seller was willing to bargain over. It was goodbye to the Hadacol glasses, but rummaging through the big main street junk shop made for a fascinating hour.
R and I later adjourned to the Café des Amis a few doors down the street for a long and lingering lunch of Bloody Marys, shrimp and okra gumbo, cornbread with crayfish étouffée and seafood salads. A light lunch, you could call it. Later we resumed our look through the shops along Rue Pont Est.
In one store, pawing through the stacked items on a back table, I came upon a cookbook compiled by the ladies of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, circa 1934. The book is not an original copy from that time, but a later reproduction of pages found in a local estate sale. The recipes are not for dishes found outside the average mother’s kitchen, but a collection of breads, savories, desserts and preserves most popular in home cooking of the time. Here’s one for hot corn cakes.
HOT CORN CAKES
2 cups meal (yellow corn meal, clearly)
1 level teaspoon soda (baking soda)
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups buttermilk
Sift salt, soda and meal together. Break egg into this and add buttermilk. Bake in small cakes on griddle. Should be thick enough to bake with a lacy edge. If too thick add a little buttermilk and a pinch of soda.
The photograph above shows the 1901 Breaux Bridge Bank Building on the town’s main street, Rue Pont Est.