Our annual local dulcimer music festival in March draws folks from all over the country for a weekend of music, workshops, concerts, vendors, and of course, good food. We like to introduce the out-of-town guests to our unique Louisiana cuisine. This year fried alligator, boudin balls and crawfish tarts were on our “Taste of Louisiana” menu. I made a festive punch, called “Achafalaya Basin Swamp Juice,” for a thirst quencher.
South Louisiana has some unique foods not found anywhere else in the country. It’s a treat for our out-of-town guest to sample some of these delicacies. To get in a fun mood, I made a punch based on the Achafalaya Basin swamp. And since we were serving a large crowd of over 100 folks in a buffet line, I needed a punch that was quick and easy to make.
The Achafalaya Basin is a huge swamp which is west of Baton Rouge. It is home to a large variety of wildlife and fish. Historically the local Cajuns, who immigrated here from Acadia and Canada, made a living fishing, trapping and hunting in this swamp.
To fit the mood of the party, I made a green punch and floated dry ice in the punch to imitate steam coming off the swamp.The punch itself was very simple and it tasted really good. It was tart and refreshing with just a little sweetness. And it contained only two ingredients – lemon lime carbonated beverage (which I purchased at the Dollar Store for a dollar a bottle) and a can of frozen limeade concentrate. The carbonated beverage was chilled prior to using and the frozen limeade concentrate was defrosted. I did not dilute it further and did not add regular ice to the punch. The punch had just the right amount of “zip.”For atmosphere, I floated gummy fish, sharks and gummy lifesavers in the punch. These sank to the bottom of the punch bowl and individual cups. And I added a gummy worm to each punch cup when serving. I tried boiling pearl tapioca and adding it to the punch–to give the appearance of fish eggs-however the tapioca clumped together.
Just a word of caution about dry ice. It burns, so don’t handle it with your bare hands. I floated dry ice in the punch bowl to imitate steam. And you only need a small chunk to create a large effect. The dry ice stayed in the punch bowl, it was not ladled into individual cups. We stored the dry ice in an ice chest until ready to add to the punch–but with time it vaporizes–so you may need to purchase extra dry ice.
The punch was a hit. Here is Willie, local musician and bass player, coming back for a second serving.The other foods on our “Taste of Louisiana” menu were boudin balls (rice and pork sausage) served with remoulade sauce and Marie’s crawfish tarts.And the highlight of the party, of course, was fried alligator with sriracha sauce.
So, next March come visit us for a good time, good music and a “Taste of Louisiana” cuisine.
And if you are planning a party, think about this punch. It was extremely easy to prepare and tasted mighty good. Your guests will never imagine how simple it was to make.
Achafalaya Basin Swamp Juice
- 1-96 oz bottle lemon lime carbonated beverage, chilled
- 1-12 oz can frozen limeade concentrate, defrosted
- several small chunks dry ice
- assorted gummy fish, gummy sharks and gummy lifesavers
- assorted gummy worms
Method and Steps:
- Make sure the lemon lime carbonated beverage is well chilled for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) prior to making the punch and the limeade concentrate is defrosted in the refrigerator.
- When ready to serve, slowly pour the lemon lime carbonated beverage into the punch bowl. Pouring down the side prevents excess fizzing.
- Add the defrosted limeade concentrate and stir.
- Stir in assorted gummy fish, gummy sharks and gummy lifesavers. These will sink to the bottom of the punch bowl.
- Add a small chunk of dry ice.
- Ladle 6 oz punch into each serving cup (keep the dry ice in the punch bowl), adding a few of the gummy fish, etc from the bottom of the punch bowl. Add a gummy worm to the side of each cup. Occasionally add another chunk of dry ice as needed.