Watch Chris Present “Taste and See: Supernatural Stories From Three Northwest Louisiana Kitchens”

Hear tales of the divinely delicious from Moody’s Café, Emerson Tamales, and Big O’s Catfish and More

by Chris Jay
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Chris Jay presents at the 14th annual Louisiana Studies Conference on Sept. 17, 2022.

As some Stuffed & Busted readers may be aware, I am pursuing my masters degree in folklore at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, where I’m currently writing my thesis on Shreveport-style stuffed shrimp. The Louisiana Folklife Center, where I worked for a year as a graduate assistant while commuting daily between Natchitoches and Shreveport, organizes the annual Louisiana Studies Conference, a symposium on Louisiana culture and folklore. The theme of the 14th annual Louisiana Studies Conference was “Supernatural Louisiana,” and I was invited to present on the topic of supernatural lore from Northwest Louisiana restaurants.

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While there are a surprisingly large number of ghost stories involving Northwest Louisiana food businesses out there (anyone remember the poltergeist that terrorized Stocky’s Pizza, where female waitresses told me they were being physically assaulted by a misogynistic spirit?), I opted to go in a more upbeat direction and discuss food enterprises that had been affected in a positive way by supernatural forces.

The late, great Moody’s Café in Minden. Photographed in 2013.

I wound up discussing Moody’s Café, Emerson Tamales, and Big O’s. I miss all three places terribly, but Moody’s Café most of all. There was so much to love about the place, from Ms. Ernestine Moody’s incredible business cards to the wall-mounted menus and, of course, the outstanding food. The pimento-laden mac n’ cheese, the sweet and spicy braised cabbage, the heavy, partitioned plates held over from the mid-twentieth century. If you ordered iced tea at Moody’s Café, Ms. Moody brought you a large pitcher for the table—even if you were dining alone. Each lunch order came with a basket of cornbread, and diners could choose if they wanted hot water cornbread, pan bread, or a mixture of both. Talking about some of the places that we lost to the COVID-19 pandemic helped me to grieve and celebrate, to find the gratitude beneath all of the anger and frustration.

Check out the video of my presentation, which runs about 20 minutes, via YouTube. I am grateful to the remaining Stuffed & Busted patrons, whose continuing support made it financially feasible for me to spend the weekend presenting in Natchitoches. If you’d like to join the Stuffed & Busted Patreon, you can do so for as little as $3 per month.

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