“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.
“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?”
Friend: “Come see what?”
Me: Pause. Thinking. “Uh. Come here?”
And thus I switched from “come see” to “come here.”
Hanh? What you said?
Yall make a pass to da Housing Works Bookstore in New York City on June 5 if yall wanna listen at me talk about some Cajun Cliches and Louisiana Stereotypes.
It’s part of the Adult Education Series. The evening’s theme is “Unmasking Cliche.” I’m one of four people presenting mini lectures on various topics. And while I’m famous right here on this blog, the other three people are better known in the wider world.
We got Ruben Bolling, creator of Tom the Dancing Bug, talking about comic strips. And there’s Timothy Burke of Deadspin.com talking about motivational secrets. And also author Annia Ceizadlo, who will be talking about the secret history of Islamic wine (which sounds awesome)>
A brief description of what I’ll be hollering about.
Ken Wheaton: We Don’t All Ride Gators
New Orleans is not in Cajun country and not all Louisianans are Cajuns — despite what reality TV would have you believe. While all Louisianans talk and eat funny, they don’t all talk and eat funny the same. Wheaton explores the differences.
The event will be hosted by friend and New York native and New Orleans Saints fan (yeah, weird, I know), Charles Star.
If any of my Louisiana readers have suggestions for cliches and stereotypes to discuss, drop ‘em in the comments.
This weekend, I went over to my former roommate’s home to try to teach him to make Red Beans and Rice. Why? Because it’s tasty, cheap and one of the easier things to cook. Even better, this is one dish that you don’t need all sorts of fancy Cajun ingredients. (That said, replacing or supplementing the ham with smoked pork Cajun sausage will make the dish taste better.) Recipe after the jump.
I don’t make a lot of desserts. Baking, for the most part, is too precise for my style of cooking. Perhaps one day when I move into an apartment with a kitchen that has ample counter space and … ah, who am I kidding. All that measuring and math isn’t for me. Until recently, my best attempt at dessert was “pudding pie” (mix up some instant pudding, slap it in a pre-made pie shell and cover with Cool Whip–now that’s good eats!).
Anyway, I’ve learned how to make Bread Pudding, something I don’t think I ever ate until I was well beyond 25. I’m still futzing with this recipe, which I’ve cobbled together from a few sources.
In the comments on the gumbo recipe, Caro asked about crawfish. Crawfish is almost always the first thing to come up in a discussion with non-Cajuns about Cajun food — unless it’s Thanksgiving, when the talk turns to Turduckens or Deep-fried turkey.
Let me say first that Crawfish Etouffee has little to do with crawfish boils–in which people stand around in the backyard drinking beer and getting their hands messy cracking those little buggers open and eating all the tail meat. Unless you have an outdoor space, the proper equipment and access to live crawfish, you can just forget about boiled crawfish. It’s only good fresh. And though you can get live crawfish delivered in season (generally February through June), it’s ridiculously expensive. And take it from someone who boiled crawfish in a New York City apartment — just don’t. The horrible ditch-water smell will be with you for weeks and stray cats will come from miles around to investigate. At any rate, if you want the great taste of crawfish, go with etouffee. (Ay — too — fay)
I’m the sort who makes vast pronouncements about Cajun cooking. As I am from Opelousas, Louisiana, and most people outside of Louisiana think a Cajun is either a) a mythical being, b) Emeril or c) Adam Sandler in “The Water Boy,” I’m not exactly shy about telling most people they don’t know what they’re talking about and they likely haven’t had Cajun food. The sad reality is that in most places, Popeye’s red beans and rice is the closest thing to authentic you’ll find (and it’s actually pretty good). After an exchange about gumbo on Twitter, I figured I’d quit mocking people for not knowing any better and provide you with a roadmap to true gumbo bliss.