Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Coonass Heritage

**Warning: some strong language in this post**

When I started this blog, I wanted to use the space to recall memories from childhood and the Cajun experience. Somehow I veered way off track, so today I thought I'd revisit the notion and see what comes up.

I miss my Maw-Maw immensely with her superstitions, good cooking, and love of family. She was truly one of a kind. Maw-Maw spoke often in Cajun French, most of which was unintelligible to me, but she had her pet phrases and these are the ones that stuck with me:

Mais [Mah - A like rat] Beginning of many sentences
Mon Dieu! [Maw Dyuh] Good God!
Chère Bébé [Sha - A like cat - bay-bay] Sweet baby
Chère mon Dieu! [Sha maw dyuh] Sweet good God!
Ay yie yie [I yi yi] Ouch
Coo-yôn [Coo yaw] Stupid, idiot
Go do-do [Go dough dough] Go to sleep
Andouille [ahn DOO ee] Type of sausage
Mirliton [Mel lee TAW] A pear she grew in her garden
Parrain [Pah RAA] Godfather
Pralines [prah LEENS or praw LEENS] ~Not PRAYlines~ A sugary candy
Roux [roo] Flour and oil base for gravy, soups, and gumbos
Lagniappe [lan-yap] A little something extra
Coonass [coon-ass] A Cajun person (an insult if said by a non-cajun)
Rodeé [roe-die-ay] To run the roads all day, shop
Coo [coo] Said in astonishment like, "Coo, look at da size of dat crawfeesh!"
Hose pipe [hose pipe] The garden hose
Merde [maird] Shit

Sometimes Maw-Maw would curse in French, thinking it didn't count, but other times, if she was really angry at someone, she called them a 'shit-ass'. I've never heard anyone else use that term before or since.

She also brought up the subject of my underwear with way too much frequency. "Sha, pull up those drawz." "Let's wash those dirty drawz." "Make sure you put on clean drawz." And right behind that would be "Wash those filthy hands, Cher." Cleanliness was extremely important to her. I think this is where I get my germ aversion.

If Maw-Maw heard a storm brewing she would run to the chiffarobe (armoire) and grab the precious bottle of holy water, blessed by none other than the Pope. When the thunder and lightning came, each room in the house received a good sprinkling. Look how serious she is here; so focused on chasing away evil.
Hope you enjoyed your Cajun lesson today!


Angel said...

This is so GOOD! I LOVE it! I couldn't help at laugh at the picture! Sha!

Louisiana Belle said...

Thank you for visiting, sha!