Even More Talkin’ Funny: Louisiana Style

"Mais, mama! Kenny won't go do-do cuz he scared of the tataille!"

“Mais, mama! Kenny won’t go do-do cuz he scared of the tataille!”

Mais! Last week, I wrote a little post about some of the ways we talk in South Louisiana. The response was ridiculous. And by ridiculous I mean amazing. That post was passed around like a bottle of Strawberry Hill in a minivan full of high-school girls going to an Opelousas bonfire in 1990. (I need to work on that analogy).  The craziest thing is that with all the page views and over 250 comments, everyone — with one exception — was NICE. That doesn’t happen on the internet very much.

Thank yall for all the comments and for being so damn polite.

But I’m not writing a follow-up post in a shameless attempt for more blog traffic. I’m writing a follow-up post because I’m embarrassed by how much I missed — and at least one thing I got wrong.

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Hometown Barbecue Is Good Eats, but …

Perhaps I’m getting old, lazy, spoiled or all three, but my first impression upon walking into Hometown Barbecue in Red Hook was, “Not this bullshit seating situation.”

I know some places in Texas do it. I know Mighty Quinn’s in Manhattan does it. That doesn’t make it okay. And what is it? First you stand in line for 30 minutes or so to get your meat — which I’m perfectly fine with — but then you face the possibility of standing there with a tray of meat hoping someone vacates a table. Not quite as bad as Mighty Quinn’s, but it immediately adds a level of stress to the experience. Or, as one of our party said, after watching people snake tables or sit there for entirely too long, “It makes me think people are dicks. I don’t want to go to a place that makes me think people are dicks.”

I was also a little stressed by the fact that a few people who know from food absolutely raved about this place. I was hoping they were right, that I wouldn’t have to completely re-engineer my opinion of their opinions. As it is, I’m never taking Pete Wells seriously on the subject of barbecue again after I finally ate at Fletchers, which was some of the worst barbecue I’ve had in the city.

Thankfully, my friends aren’t crazy people with deluded taste buds as the product at Hometown is solid. Well, the meat on MY plate was good. All four of us ordered brisket and it wasn’t exactly consistent — some of it moist and delicious, some of it dry and chalky. Brisket, of course, is tough to get right. The pulled pork was excellent. The pork belly was good. The spare ribs were … they were out of spare ribs. Which is fine. This happens at barbecue places. The jerk baby-back ribs, on the other hand, had a nice flavor but also seemed like they’d been drying out in an oven somewhere.

The sauces, which I don’t usually go for, were excellent.

There is no wait service in the traditional sense, but we were definitely taken care of while waiting in line, with a bartender taking drink orders and checking on us from time to time. Nice vibe in the backroom thanks to live country music.

I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot, especially if you happen to be in the neighborhood. It’s better than Dinosaur, Wildwood, Blue Smoke — and I’d probably rank it above Mighty Quinn’s. But if I’m being honest, with Morgan’s a couple blocks from my apartment and a Hill Country in downtown Brooklyn, I’m not sure I’d make a special trip out to Red Hook. Like those other two, it’s a great neighborhood barbecue place — but because of it’s location, it’s a pain in the ass to get to (which, I know, is one of Red Hook’s charms), and I am a lazy person who isn’t a fan of taking two slow buses to get to a place. Of course, you can take a car — it was $11 from Park Slope — which isn’t horrible and the ride was fairly quick.

Meat: Fair to excellent.
Service: Good.
Ambiance: Felt like a barbecue joint, but seating situation may stress you out.

That’s my two cents — and I’ll throw in a couple of smoky barbecue burps.

 

Things You Can’t Do Without a Thumb

When I need to slice things, I almost always reach for a knife. I’ve spent good money on some very sharp knives and I get a certain joy in using them.

But last week, looking to bake some potato chips on a week night, I thought to myself “Why make things so hard. There’s a mandolin somewhere in this kitchen. Use that.”

So I found the thing, fiddled with it and puzzled over it like a monkey trying to figure out a plastic water bottle, then started slicing. Things were going great and I was wondering why I’d never used it before.
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Talkin’ Funny: Louisiana Style

"My mama, she went to the store, her, and just left me out here."

“Mais, yall come see my new tricycle, cher!”

I must have been 17 years old before I ever uttered the phrase “come here.” And I did so only to make myself understood to what I thought was a somewhat dense Northerner, a Long Islander who couldn’t understand basic English.

In my part of the world, in South Louisiana, for some reason or other, we never said, “come here.” Instead, we said, “come see.” Always and forever, with no confusions or misunderstanding.

Yet the very first time I said “come see” in Southampton, New York, in the fall of 1991, the response was — well, I don’t have to tell anyone who wasn’t raised in Louisiana what the response was.

Me: “Come see.”
Friend: “See what?”
Me: “What?”
Friend: “Come see what?”
Me: Pause. Thinking. “Uh. Come here?”

And thus I switched from “come see” to “come here.”

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The New E-Book Is Here! The New E-Book Is Here!

SweetasCaneAs an author, there’s nothing quite as exciting as publication day, when … well, nothing tangible really happens, because the print book hasn’t shipped yet. But the e-book has. And, let’s be real, if you’re like me, 95% of your reading is done on an e-reader anyway.

So e-reader people activate! Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears is now available for your devices and for purchase via these fine outlets.

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Apple

Indiebound

Kobo

I’d much rather you get it, read it and review it on the web. But just in case you were wondering what other people might be saying about it, here are a couple of early reviews.

“Ken Wheaton’s got his Cajun on. His book is funny, raw, wrenching, a heartfelt tale of the complexities of family, love and that place we call home—and, at the end of it all, how stories help heal and restore the wounded spirit in us all.” —Ken Wells, author of Meely LaBauve and Crawfish Mountain

“One of the best novels I’ll read this year. Under all the little ruptures in our lives is a mud fight for the soul. For Wheaton the balm for it all is the story and storytelling, an essential inquiry in search of the flashes of angelism embedded in the dirt and grit of our human passage.” —Darrell Bourque, author of Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie and former Louisiana poet laureate

“An absorbing and delightful read.” — Booklist

“I Don’t Care What They Think” and Other Lies Writers Tell

SweetasCaneThere’s a moment that’s hard to describe, when you receive an email with a subject line that includes your name, the title of your next book and the words “Booklist Review.”

For my third novel, Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears — which is being released next week — the thought process was a three-step one that went something like this.

1. “Hmmmmm. Booklist Review.”

2. “Sweet! Someone reviewed the thing!”

3. “Oh shit. Someone reviewed the thing.”

And then my finger just hung there over the phone. Do I open it? I’m at work. What if it’s bad? What if it shatters my fragile writer’s ego? Equally bad, what if it sends me into a panic the entire three weeks leading up to release?

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Saturday May 31: Robicelli vs. Wheaton in a Literary-Cupcake Smackdown!

RobicellisCupcakes

Okay. That is not at all what is going on Saturday at the Bay Ridge branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. But it sounded like a good headline. (Also: Whatever it is, I’d lose.)

But Allison Robicelli, co-founder of Robicelli’s and co-author of Robicelli’s: A Love Story With Cupcakes, will be on a panel at the library on Saturday. And I will be on a panel as well. So please come out to Bay Ridge for the following event.

MEET THE WRITERS OF BAY RIDGE
Saturday, May 31, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
7223 Ridge Blvd. at 73rd St.

Brooklyn, NY 11209
718-748-5709

So come on out. There will be something for literary people, foodie people, history buffs, literary foodies who like history, Brooklyn people and fans of free air conditioning. A little more information.

Featuring ALLISON ROBICELLI of Robicelli’s, RAWIA BISHARA of Tanoreen Restaurant, ALLISON KAVE of Butter & Scotch, SARAH ZORN, author of Brooklyn Chef’s Table, Authors KEN WHEATON and CARA ALWILL, The L Magazine Culture Editor HENRY STEWART, and Harper-Collins Executive Editor KRISTEN PETTIT. Moderated by Folio Literary Management’s MELISSA SARVER WHITE.  With special guests Louis Coluccio Jr. from A.L.C. ITALIAN GROCERY, Katarzyna Ploszaj of Petit Oven and a surprise guest from Leske’s Bakery.

Find out more here

And afterwards, stick around and check out the neighborhood. Perhaps go to the Lockyard for some excellent hot dogs and great beer. Or get yourself some cupcakes. Or just go for a walk in one of Brooklyn’s best neighborhoods. (And if you’re a Bay Ridger reading this, leave suggestions in the comments!)

 

Now, am I from Bay Ridge? No. I’m from Louisiana. Do I live in Bay Ridge? Technically, no. But it has a Popeyes, Robicelli’s, a Century 21 not crawling with tourists, The Lockyard and all sorts of other things that make me wish I did. And I jog TO Bay Ridge from time to time. At any rate, hopefully no one will ask me any deeply rooted historical questions about the neighborhood.