Thursday, April 29, 2010

Louisiana Dream'n

After reading this article, I really want to go to New Orleans and eat. The Vietnamese food sounds especially mouth-watering.

The parts of the article about Emeril Lagasse are especially interesting since no one says New Orleans more than him (Ironic since he's from Fall River, Mass.). Yes, Emeril is so overexposed, he's verging on self-parody, but against all odds his original restaurants are still turning out fantastic food, the article says.

My only real encounter with Louisiana food was a weekend day nearly 20 years ago when my editor at the Norwich Bulletin sent me to cover a Cajun festival just over the border in Rhode Island. I'll never forget the music or the food. I had red beans and rice (so simple, but so good) and crayfish for the first time.

Among the musicians performing that day was Dewey Balfa, who I later learned is one of the giants of Cajun music. I interviewed him, and he used an expression I'd never heard and I've never forgotten. He complained that the younger generation of musicians only cared about "bringing home George." The phrase stumped me. What does that mean, I asked. "Make money," as in dollar bills, i.e. George Washington, he explained.

He told me that the essence of Cajun music was sadness, specifically the sadness of the Cajun people being forcibly removed from Acadia in modern day Nova Scotia after New France fell to the British in 1763.

Here's a video of Balfa, who died about a year after I interviewed him. Here's another video with a little background about him. There's just something about this music that sends shivers up my spine. It lights up my soul the moment I hear it.

Given this article and the amazing Treme on HBO, Louisiana's on my mind.

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