Good Bye Joe, Me Gotta Go, Me Oh My Oh | Son of a Gun We’ll Have Big Fun on the Bayou
Last week, BP representative Randy Prescott, citing the damage of the gulf oil disaster, said that “Louisiana isn’t the only place that has shrimp.” Feel free to call him and tell him what a douche bag he is: 713-323-4093.
I’ve spent the better part of my life traveling from city to city and state to state. I have never spent more than 2 or 3 years in a single place so it’s hard for me to say that any one place is home. Places may feel like home when there are people that I love around me, but that’s different than calling a place home. I’m finishing up my second year in Baton Rouge and I’ve spent a good deal of that time traveling around the state, and I have to say that it’s hard not to want to call Louisiana home.
Two of the big things that come up when I hear people talk about Louisiana are the food and the music, and what this all comes down to, really, is that Louisiana knows how to do community. I’ve heard of people spending upwards of ten hours cooking and preparing a gumbo. Everyone has their own recipe and their own way of making a roux, and while their is a plethora of sites dedicated to how to cook gumbo, the best way is to assist someone who already has a recipe and is willing to let you lean over their shoulder. Because of the time and energy that goes into a gumbo, eating gumbo is always cause for an event.
You also can’t talk about Louisiana food without talking about crawfish boils. I mean what is more fun than dumping a ton of food on a large table and gathering around with some of your closest, drinking abita and feeling the burn of zatarain’s on your lips? Maybe hanging out at the spotted cat on frenchmen, listening to great jazz or blues, or whatever else the bands decide to play. Or maybe going to a zydeco brunch at cafe des amis in breaux bridge where you can eat and dance and then eat and dance some more. Or maybe it’s just running into some random jam session that happens to take place at the coffee shop you happen to be sitting in.
Two weeks after first arriving in Louisiana, hurricane gustav hit us and we were out of power, in the midst of Louisiana heat, for about two weeks. In those weeks we got really close to our neighbors. We drank whatever we could and sat around and told stories, played games, and removed debris from the streets in our neighborhood. Because hurricane’s happen, people here learn to accept them as a part of every day life. You prepare, and you wait to see how bad the hurricane season is going to be, then afterward, you get together with everyone and clean up. But the culture is such that most events seem to take that shape. They all begin and end with a community.
But these are things that I can’t really explain. It’s hard to express the essence of a place and the people there. I think that Louisiana congressman Charlie Melancon was able to do it pretty well:
Photo Credit: blacksmith jim