As Easter approaches, Barbara’s Eatery in downtown Shreveport becomes the arts and crafts workshop of owner and cook Barbara Landman. Ms. Landman, who can usually be found chatting with customers in the dining room of her cafeteria-style lunch spot, switches gears and becomes an overworked folk artist in the weeks leading up to Good Friday. Landman is creating panoramic sugar eggs, an Easter tradition that the Chicago Tribune called “nearly a lost art” in this 1987 article.
If it was “nearly lost” in 1987, the art of creating delicate, colorful Easter eggs out of sugar and staging tiny dioramas inside of them is pretty much non-existent in 2017. Landman is selling the eggs, which she makes entirely by hand, for $35 apiece. Folks who purchase the eggs, which take hours to create, often intend to use them in Easter baskets or to decorate their Easter table.
“They make me happy,” Landman says. “I look at them and they really do make me happy. There’s no pattern to ’em. Every day’s eggs have their own personality, depending on whether I’m pissed off or I’m in a good mood. If I had to, I couldn’t make two of ’em alike.”
When I visited with her on March 23, Landman had already completed 94 eggs for the 2017 Easter season. She learned how to make the eggs from her aunt, Bootsie Landry, while growing up in Lafayette, Louisiana in a family with 8 kids and more than 40 cousins. Landman would stay up all night with her aunt and a cousin, often making panoramic sugar eggs until the sun came up.
“We had so many great traditions back then, and these sugar eggs are one of the traditions that’s fallen by the wayside,” Landman says.
Customers can order panoramic sugar eggs from Barbara’s Eatery by calling the restaurant at (318) 674-2830 or simply visiting the restaurant and picking out an egg. Barbara’s Eatery is located at 420 Marshall Street in downtown Shreveport, near the downtown branch of Shreve Memorial Library.