With the flooding in our dear little Tewkesbury this last week, I've been thinking about New Orleans, the times I spent in Louisiana and some other things, sort of southern. You know how your mind leaps from place to place...
I was in Scotland when Katrina hit and spent an anxious couple of days trying to find out if my friends there were okay. When I was in Louisiana, I learned how to cook with the Chef who made Cajun food famous. We were based out of his home parish and did the local food festival there. But his restaurant was in New Orleans and offices and plant were in Metairie.
I spent time in New Orleans with friends, exploring the city. One of my meccas was a place called Lucullus, a culinary antique store with a branch in NO and another in the sweet little town of Breaux Bridge. I was in heaven here, with their stunning merchandise and merchandising. I collected copper cookware at that time and was just agog at the pieces they had. They had a wonderful cement floor, painted to look like old stones. It was just great.
The architecture of Lousiana was always a big favourite and one of my special memories was in a friend's kitchen, with a black and white tile floor, black and white checked curtains and bright white appliances, with the sun streaming through the Spanish moss on a tree just outside the back door. I also love the little shotgun house, and in fact, my rowhouse in Baltimore is shotgun style, with the hall running down one side.
As everything was happening during Katrina, this song kept looping through my mind and I found it on YouTube the other day. The song is "Take Me Home" by an incredible singer called Marc Broussard, who is from the small Cajun town of Carencro, close to St. Landry Parish, where I was based. The video gives you a real feel for South Louisiana. This is the singer's version, but if you're interested, there's also this version that was produced in the aftermath of the storm for the local United Way.