Friday, April 9, 2010

The Search for Authenticity

It's terrible that I have neglected the blog for so long. I treat it like a houseplant, hence the reason I don't have any live house plants...BUT I'm back and have so much to write about. This month has been the epitome of CRAZY. I went and saw this psychic in Folsom that said, "the next two months, you are going to be so busy it's going to feel like your life is falling apart." He was NOT joking! I'm so stressed out that for three days in a row I forgot to eat breakfast and lunch. That's busy!
So here is the scoop, we found a building that we want to open our restaurant in and are currently in a counter offer bidding war. We have potential investors, but they are from overseas and we don't know if they are legit, we are getting our backyard transformed into a organic vegetable garden for free and on national television, and this week alone I've been working on five caterings, been on the morning news and started working with my new partner for the launch of our online store at the end of this month! CRAZY!!!
And did I mention that 50% of my friends and family are born in the month of March, so it was like birthday party central up in this biotch for four weeks straight. Plus I had two weddings to attend, one in Sacramento and the other in New Orleans. And with that, it will be a wonderful segue into today's blog.
New Orleans, it's my birthplace, the home of amazing people and I was told even more amazing food. Well they lied! I went to New Orleans with my head in the clouds, expecting remarkable food on every corner. I thought that it would be dreamy and intoxicating, with heavy moss covered Live Oaks lining the streets and the smell of gumbo in the air. Southern hospitality at it's finest. I thought that someone would pass me by on the street and take one look into my hazel eyes and say, "Aww gurl, you is Creole fo' sho" and give me a spontaneous voodoo reading about my past lives in the South and my French ancestry. Jesus, what a wake up call I got.
The last time I was in New Orleans I was two years old. So it was my bad for imagining such a fantasy. The first couple of days were disappointing to say the least. It was no different from the super touristy jook joints that you would find in any city. My search for authentic southern food went unanswered for the entire time that we were there; we took local recommendations, magazines reviews, hotel concierge suggestions. All the restaurants, just one disappointing meal after another. I was heartbroken and hungry.
The best meal that we ended up having, was at a small diner called Clover's in the gay district of the French Quarter. We had just left a bar and we were starving. Through the rain, we ran four blocks down a filthy puddle filled street. Left our Bud Lights at the front door and stepped into gay nirvana. Drenched, we sat at the counter and after 10 minutes, were greeted by a soft bodied, overly pale, mid 40's order taker. After scribbling down our order, he posted the tag behind him on the cooks spindle. Our cook was long, lean and had the straightest hot comb pressed hair I have ever seen on a Black man. He had at least 20 different orders going the entire time. He moved from the fryer to the grill to the cold station with the grace of an ice skater. Lip syncing to "Single Ladies" while perfectly assembling my greasy spoon cheeseburger and talking shit to the slow, soft bodied order taker. "Girl, you better move a little faster! I ain't got time fo' yo' shit tonight!"
I, for the 30 minutes that we were there, was in heaven. Then Beyonce's coworker came around the corner. Eyeliner, size 0 Dereon jeans, and mad jewelry on his wrist. He danced around the diner which was no bigger than my living room, bussing tables and also talking shit to the soft bodied order taker. "If you was sick then WHY did you come to work?!" I told him that it wasn't fair that he, a man, could fit into size 0 Dereon jeans and I, a woman, could not. He snapped his hips back and forth and retorted, "It ain't my fault baby, lose some weight and I'll give you these jeans!" My reply, "Ewwww bitch!" It was all in fun and I tell ya it made the burgers and milkshakes taste even better.
On the plane ride home, my husband and I discussed how disheartening it was that we didn't get that Southern meal that we wanted of New Orleans. In our conversation, we realized that we had had an absolutely wonderful meal. It was at my Aunt Fran's house near Biloxi. We had stopped into Biloxi for two days to visit family and she had hosted a party while we were there. She made her traditional Southern favorites and it was authentic, memorable and satisfying. We had been so stuck on finding real food in a restaurant, that we neglected to realized that "real" Southern food is not available in restaurants, but in the recipes that family pass down from generation to generation. Thank you Aunt Fran, you gave me what I was looking for and now I know that real Southern fare is no further than my own family's cookbook.

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