Dirty Coast has it right …
I recall a conversation that I had with someone before I left, focusing on why, we as New Orleanians, are New Orleanians. Or rather, what it is that makes us so attached to being from New Orleans, and to constantly portray New Orleans in a light that seems no less nationalistic than some of the very people we complain about today. Yet, somehow, New Orleanians get a pass on that. Why?
Well, for one, we are a diverse culture, a melange of this and that, and it is because of this mix (dare we use the term “gumbo pot”) that we are so wonderful, so endearing, even enduring … it is because of our richness in culture, music, life and love that we can be so many things all at once, yet still have just one thing in common — geography. At some point in our lives, we lived in or close enough to New Orleans to become a New Orleanian … whether by birth, by choice, by happenstance.
I think it’s important to note that being a “New Orleanian” does not necessarily require you to live within the parish limits. It requires you to subscribe to the values … but those values are not written down. It is not something you can read in a book, or sign up for. It’s a way of life. I think it is in this type of geographical fluidity that we can all pull together and make something happen when perhaps other communities cannot. No, I will not use this as a platform for Katrina-talk; no. What I will do, though, is use this as an opportunity to walk you through you a little NOLA love … through the making of a pot of red beans. 🙂
It’s been a little over two weeks now that I have been in Europe. I love it; strangely enough, it feels like home. When I look at the similarities, I see just how small this world really is and just how alike we all are, yet we use bigotry and hate as a reason that we should be separate, not rely on each other … not love. But there is one thing that I believe brings us all together, and that is food. It is in our melding pot of a home cooked meal that we find solace, and peace, and friends and family around a table. I am reminded constantly that one of the lovely things about my father, my brother, and yes, even my younger sister, is that we have one thing truly in common, and I do not mean blood. I mean one of the many things that makes us feel as though we have accomplished something, created something, left the world a little sweeter … and that is food.
As you saw in my last post, a dear friend of mine passed away, unbeknownst to me for over a month. As devastating as it has been, I have found solace in the fact that together we made our friendship prevail, and we made our memories something sweeter than words could describe our friendship. We found common loves and learned about our meaningful histories and memories through sharing our food. For instance, I would often tell stories of my parents, and how they influenced my love for food. My mother would eat a fully ripe creole tomato as though it were an apple, lightly salted and with as much juice as you’d think an orange would have. She would also burn pork chops while staring at them. My father, he would cook and bake until all hours of the night, starting early in the morning … just for the mere satisfaction of making someone’s day brighter. Though my parents were not always the best parents, they did the best they could with what they had, and for that, I am grateful.
Sharing my love for food is important to me. It’s one of the many reasons I have this blog. And though this post is a little longer than usual, what I am attempting to do here is to ask you to carefully look inside of yourself. More than that … look around you. What is it that makes your life sweeter? Is it love? Food? Friends? Your work? If you do not surround yourself in what you love to do, then you are not giving the world that which it needs to grow — passion. Do not settle for the mediocrity of life that consumerism has led us to believe is an acceptable way of life. Spend your time making the memories you will remember forever, and more than that … by placing your good memory into the universe, you leave the world a better place, for with that emotional charge comes a latent memory that is enveloped in the energy of your current space. You will not always be here … so leave the space you have now in the kindest of ways for the future generations who will occupy it.
And without further ado, red beans! (Hint: click on the first photo to scroll through so you can see the steps and the captions.)
With love from Europe,