When you drink your next Bloody Mary you might just drift off to Avery Island and think of Tabasco, Irish Louisiana and the source of the sauce.
Every year I seek out Charlie Whinham of the Louisiana Office of Tourism.
Among the hundreds of exhibitors at IPW, the American Travel Fair to talk hot sauce.
And a certain Donegal entrepreneur, and as you know by now Donegal entreneurship is in my blood.
Tabasco is the brainchild of Edmund McIlhenny.
Himself a descendant of the north-westernmost county in Ireland whose family then made good in Maryland.
It was commonplace for the names of the Irish diaspora to America to be altered.
Because the book keepers would not understand the thick brogue or decipher the signature.
The same was said to apply to the Irish streaming over to Britain.
Which is why it is possible that the Murtys started off life as Murtaghs.
What’s in a name?
I prefer though to think that we are descended from the ancient High King of Ireland Muircherach Mac Lochlainn.
Either way the Irish grew a reputation for being hot-headed.
And Edmund McIlhenney’s original Tabasco was guaranteed to make your head overheat.
Edmund had decamped to New Orleans around 1840.
And in true resolute Irish style he made a fortune as a banker.
He lost it in the Civil War, and went off to reinvent himself in a whole different field… as a gardener and inventor of a hot pepper sauce.
The bould Edmund had his in-laws to thank for both putting him and his family up in their plantation in Avery Island after the Civil War.
And giving him a garden to tend.
We’ll pass over the story that has it that Edmund was given the Mexican tabasco peppers and tabasco recipe by plantation owner Maunsel White.
And move to the 1870s when Edmund obtained a patent.
And started to trade the sauce around the US, before his sons expanded the business worldwide.
It’s more Guinness, Smithwick’s Ale and whiskey down at my Dear Old Mum’s old family bar, now the Ramblers in Brockagh, Co. Donegal.
And back to Tabasco Louisiana
But I dare say that if they do get some exotic out of the county type like said Mum asking for a Bloody Mary then they may have a bottle of the oul’ McIlhenny’s out back.
Because Donegal never forgets its sons.
So let’s hear it for Tabasco, Irish Louisiana and the source of the sauce.
We’ve done Mississippi but not to its terminus in New Orleans.
So off to the Big Easy for us in the future.
And we’ll make that two hour 45 minutes drive to Avery Island to take the Tabasco tour and finish it all off with the best Bloody Mary in the world.