Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mammy’s, Mansion and Munching Crawfish

Date: Friday, April 30th, 2010

Parked at: Riverview RV Park, Vidalia, LA

It was obvious watching the Weather Channel that the tornadoes and torrential downpours were headed directly over our Northern route, so staying in Natchez was a no-brainer.

We are always interested in finding those unique one-of-a-kind attractions in an area, usually by checking out In this case, Natchez had a unique offering that was also noted as a very good lunch stop. (Like we really need to eat again ;-) )

Mammy’s Cupboard is a restaurant inside a woman’s skirt!


This restaurant is only open certain days of the week and then only from 11am – 2pm.


We were beginning to learn our lesson about all this eating out and so we ordered one of the day’s special plate lunches between the two of us. This was a homemade pot pie, with 7 Layer salad and corn bread. They also serve a wonderful blueberry lemonade in mason jars. And, since we only ordered one meal, we had made room for some of their famous hummingbird cake for dessert. If you go to Mammy’s be sure to leave room for their homemade desserts. Also, if you aren’t interested in their daily special, consider their chicken salad which is served are big chunks of homemade bread – it looked great, and gets rave reviews as well.

We decided that to get a true feel for Natchez, it was important to do at least on mansion tour. There are many to choose from but the highest rated on Tripadvisor was Longwood.

Longwood was not a working plantation but the planned city home of a wealthy Southern cotton planter, Haller Nutt and his wife Julia. It was intended to be a unique 6 story structure in an “oriental villa” style with a white stucco exterior. Unfortunately, the war broke out only 18 months in to the build and all of the Northern workers deserted the project in fear of staying down South. The stucco was never added so the exterior remains the base brick structure.


Even though Haller Nutt was a Union sympathizer, a great deal of the effort in the 18 months of build was supplied by slave labor. He also obviously intended to continue that slave labor since behind the house they built a slave quarters large enough to house the 32 slaves they expected to require to maintain this residence.

With local works, Haller Nutt completed the basement level as living quarters for his family. In a severely depressed state over the loss of family fortune during the war, and the need to sell family treasures just to support family with no hope in future of completing Longwood, Haller Nutt died in 1864, only in his 40’s. His wife, Julia, and the eight of their eleven surviving children loved on in the basement until her death in 1897.

No picture taking was allowed in the basement area which retained most of the original family furnishings. There was a lot to learn about their creative techniques in those times for handling the heat, flies, etc., We even saw Julia has a potty hidden in an upholstered chair in her room!

The upper floors of the mansion, even though unfinished were still really interesting, illuminating the craftsmanship that went in to all of the handmade brickwork and woodwork.

IMG_0045 For example, their are numerous alcoves around the octagonal rooms intended to hold statues. The bricks were specially made for these alcoves to support the shape, some having 5 corners.


Without a doubt, the most awe-inspiring feature of this unfinished masterpiece, is the central, six-story high, octagonal rotunda. For insurance reasons, no one is allowed to climb the upper stories any longer so our tour stopped on the first floor. Our 1/2 hour guided tour took about 40 minutes and we felt it was worth the $10 fee.


Outside we explored the slave quarters and the carriage house. In the carriage house, Ken found an example of the old cistern pumps that were used at our respective homeplaces when we were youngsters.

After the tour we stopped back at the rig for awhile to rest and get the dogs walked.

The Natchez Bluff Blues Fest started at 5:30 pm that night with so we decided to drive downtown to check it out. The focus for the evening was blues and a crawfish boil. The band performed in front of the Natchez Grand Hotel IMG_0064

while folks sat around devouring huge boxes of crawfish, boudin, potatoes and corn on the cob, along with ample supplies of Budweiser products to wash it down.


I was amazed that this $15 box of food was usually being consumed by individuals!


It has been many years since I’d eaten crawfish on a Houston business trip and Ken was an absolute crawfish-virgin. The three folks above convinced him that we should give it a try and helped him with the finer techniques of tearing apart the crawfish. He did it all quite well but wasn’t interested in sucking the head, regardless of the number of Budweiser products consumed!


We must say, we were suprised at the low turnout for this event in Natchez. Our hometown, Quincy, IL, has a Friday night, Blues in the District, that during the summer draws much larger crowds. Natchez festival has tremendous potential so I'm hoping it was the weather that was holding down the crowd.

Hugs, C

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