Category Archives: New Orleans

Happy 4th of July Estados Unidos!

Happy 4th of July Estados Unidos!

Happy 4th of July Estados Unidos! Actually Louisianians would have said something like Feliz el 4 de Julio or Heureux le 4 éme Juillet. Thanks Google!

Language aside, the Spanish Colony of Louisiana under the leadership of Bernardo de Gálvez (photo below) joined forces with the British-Americans to fight for their independence against the British. Indigenous Native Louisianans fought alongside those of French, Spanish, African, German, Acadian, and Swiss descent. The rest as they say, is history. Why did Spanish Louisiana help British-America?

md-governor-bernardo-de-galvez  KCB 4th of July

European wars profoundly affected the fledgling French colony. Spain supported the American Revolution because of their losses to Britain during the Seven Year’s War (1756–1763). On the same day France relinquished most of her empire east of the Mississippi to Britain at the end of the Seven Years’ War, she ceded all her possessions west of the Mississippi to Spain, her ally in the conflict. Spain lost all of her North American territories (Spanish Florida) to regain control of Cuba and became the new ruler of the Louisiana Colony. In order to recoup her losses and to protect what was left of her colonies in the Americas, Spain used both international and domestic policies to guard and develop her holdings. Internationally, Spain’s support of the American Revolution helped protect her borders from Britain, while on the domestic front Spain needed to develop a prosperous Louisiana colony.

Allowed to access supplies through the port of Havana in Cuba as well as the port in New Orleans during the revolution, Spanish Louisiana played a crucial role in American Independence.  

You’re welcome America! Just sayin’!


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Say What? New Orleans Street Names

Say What? New Orleans Street Names

Say What? New Orleans street names are hard to pronounce! Yes, indeed.

There are a lot of interesting things about New Orleans. The fact that the languages, food, music, and traditions of the Louisiana Creole culture continued after the Louisiana Purchase and US statehood is unarguably, unique. In my post Say What? New Orleans Speak I introduced readers to some local lingo, popular places with a bit of history, and a pronunciation guide. Today we will take a look at some street names. Yeah-you-right, if you want to sound like local when visiting NOLA, there are a few street names that are particularly difficult to pronounce. Tourists come across all or most of them during a visit.

FQ map

Let’s start with a review. You already know locals pronounce the name of the city as  noo OR-lunz, noo OR-lee-unz, or noo AW-linz. But did you know the city is divided into Parishes and Faubourgs? A Parish is called a County in other US cities. A Faubourg (FAUX-berg) is a holdover from the French Colonial period and refers to the parts outside the city, known today as the “burbs”. The French Quarter which is the oldest neighborhood in the city today, was the original city, so the territory built up outside of that space was considered a “faubourg” or “suburbs’’. For example there’s a Faubourg St. John, a Fauborg Marigny (MAHR-ruh-nee) and the Faubourg Tremé (tray-MAY) made popular in the HBO series Treme. However, in the TV show, the spelling Treme could be pronounced TREAM. When spelled the French way with the diacritic over the second ‘e’, the pronunciation changes.

Here’s the thing, the blending of a handful of old world cultures that settled in Louisiana created a new culture that has over time influenced the pronunciations of old words. So a French word or a Spanish word or a word from one of the original native Louisianans may not be pronounced as you think.

Have some fun and give these pronunciations a try. And if you get stuck, that’s okay, just ask a local, they won’t mind!

  1. Baronne: (buh-ROAN) not (bar-ro-NAY)
  2. Burgundy Street: (bur-GUN-dee) not like the wine, (BURG-gun-dee)
  3. Carondelet: (kah-ron-duh-LET) not (kah-ron-duh-LAY)
  4. Chartres: (CHART-ers) not (char-TRESS)
  5. Conti: (KAWN-tie) not (KAWN-tee)
  6. Decatur: (duh-KAY-ter), not (dee-ca-TURE) or (deck uh-TURE)
  7. Freret: (FER-et) not (FRER-ay), the French way
  8. Iberville: (EYE-ber-ville) not (IB-er-ville)
  9. Tonti: (TAWN-tee) not (TAWN-tie) ignore #5!
  10. Tchoupitoulas: (Chop-a-TOO-luhs) not, well…you can imagine
  11. Toulouse: (TOO-loose) not (Too-LOOSE)
  12. Tulane: (TOO-lane) not (tu-LANE)

After you have it all figured out, plug in New Orleans street names to a car navigation system on your visit if you want to get a good laugh.

And please, strike up a conversation with a local while out and about. When home, the local lingo is what makes it feel like home to me. A typical greeting from an old childhood NAY-bah I may see in da MAW-nin’ could go like this, “Hey dawlin’! Where y’at? How’s yamama’n’em? You bettah come pass by ma house before you leave.”

And that, is music to my ears.

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International Dot Day – Celibri-Dot

International Dot Day – Celibri-Dot

International Dot Day is named for the story written by Peter H. Reynolds titled The Dot. The book is about a girl who does not believe she can draw but through the encouragement of her art teacher learns she is able to “make her mark.” Every September schools all around the world are encouraged to celebrate International Dot Day through activities that inspire and encourage creativity. The teacher in the book told the little girl, “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.”

My Celebri-Dot, inspired by my hometown of New Orleans is definitely known for the creative spirit found throughout the city. And deserves a WHO DOT!  The design is dedicated to all the creatives who live there and to the people who had the courage to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. It’s been ten very long years.

Who Dot FINAL signed        dot-cover

Here are some tips of how to participate in International Dot Day:

  1. Check out the Dot Gallery to see examples of how others have celebrated.
  2. Read and discuss The Dot.
  3. Sign up and download the free Educator’s Handbook for International Dot Day.
  4. Follow the Celebri-Dots blog. Ask your favorite creative to share a dot.
  5. Share your DOTS and Dot Day activities!

 

 

 

 

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New Orleans Trivia Quiz-Mardi Gras, Baby!

New Orleans Trivia Quiz-Mardi Gras, Baby!

New Orleans trivia quizzes are designed as a fun way learn about one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Rich in tradition and culture, New Orleans is known as the festival capital of the United States. The culture, customs, and many traditions celebrated throughout the year started long before US statehood which makes the city genuinely unique.

New Orleans Carville

This first quiz tests your knowledge of Mardi Gras and that includes king cake, baby!

See my other posts about Mardi Gras and king cake and another about how to catch throws at a parade.  Head over to Goodreads to take the New Orleans Trivia multiple choice quiz. For a heads up, the questions are below.

How’s your knowledge of New Orleans culture?

Bonne chance! Good luck!

1. What is the first day king cake is traditionally eaten in New Orleans?

2. What does the New Orleans king cake symbolize?

3. Other than a plastic baby, what else is known to be hidden in king cakes?

4. Mardi Gras is an official holiday in which of these states?

5. Who chose purple, green, and gold as the official colors of Mardi Gras?

6. What do the words Mardi Gras mean in English?

7. What happens when you find the plastic king cake baby inside the cake?

8. What New Orleans Carnival krewe uses a bean and “mock wooden” king cake to choose their queen?

9. At a new Orleans Mardi Gras parade, the following may be caught from floats.

10. Where can you go to sample the best variety of Louisiana king cakes?

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Gingerbread Man & Runaway Tales, Near & Far

Gingerbread Man & Runaway Tales, Near & Far

Gingerbread Man runaway tales from near & far are as old as they are vast, brought to us in many versions from around the world. Research shows the story began as an oral storytelling tradition, a folktale. According to a researcher at The The Straight Dope, the history behind “gyngerbreed” dates back to 1386, that’s the 14th century folks! And the early gingerbread treats were made in the shape of a fluer de lis, or men or pigs.

Leave it to the Brothers’ Grimm to show the dark side of what most think of as a moral lesson to children about vanity. In their nightmarish twist on the Gingerbread Man a young child is splashed with mud and the mud steals the child’s eyes, nose, and mouth. Yikes! Then it runs off yelling, “You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!” You can see a short clip of their creepy version on YouTube  here. Yeah, run, run, as fast as you can to get away from that thing!!!

The first documented account of a Gingerbread tale in the United States appeared in 1875. “The Gingerbread Boy,” was a story printed in the May issue of St. Nicholas magazine, a children’s literary journal. And over centuries, it has been re-imagined over and over.

What’s your favorite spin on this re-told tale? You know mine, The King Cake Baby, about our very own New Orleans runaway of course!

*updated with new titles

Follow my Gingerbread Man board on Pinterest.

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How to Catch Mardi Gras Throws

How to Catch Mardi Gras Throws

How to catch Mardi Gras throws is a question asked every year. Is it an art? Is it a science? Catching “throws”, the beads, cups, toys, doubloons, and trinkets thrown from Mardi Gras floats is serious business. Can visitors learn to maximize their chances of returning from parades with a huge haul?

Yes, Indeed! As we say in southern Louisiana.

Quick tips:

1. Comfortable clothing. Seems like a no-brainer, but yes, I’ve seen people in open toe shoes and heels. Clothes worn to the gym or yoga are great. Parades are no place for vanity, people! Keep your eye on the prize, catching free stuff!

2. Training & Exercise.  Competing with locals who are obviously born with the ”catch” gene will take some preparation. Work on your vertical jump. Start a stretching routine. Flexibility is key. Improve your reflexes.

3. Anticipation. You have to be able to recognize when a float rider has targeted you for the throw or someone else. If the 3 year-old on his or her father’s or mother’s shoulders is the target you have seconds to decide if you will snag that throw. However, if you do, I suggest you move to a new location.

3. Practice. Get in front of a mirror, raise your arms up high, wave furiously while jumping up and down and scream, “Throw me somethin’ mista’!” Acceptable alternatives include, “Hey, ova here!” or “Me! Me!” or “Here, here! Mista’!” I’ve witnessed many falls. Can you say, EMBARRASSING!  Practice, practice, practice.

4. Visual attention. Never take your eye off a passing float! Let’s face it, some float riders have really poor aim. Use your peripheral vision to avoid elbows, arms, and crashing bodies. Ouch.

5. Competition. It’s important to size up those parade goers around you. Assess the number of parade ladders with seats. How many are nearby? Cute kids in costume. No explanation necessary.You think older people are no threat to a successful haul? See #2. For locals, it’s their natural habitat. Do not be deceived. Missed air born throws that reach the ground are their specialty. Do not try to pick them up, feet are used to accommodate for their lack of upper arm mobility. Crushed fingers are no fun.

4. Science and more. Here’s where that high school physics class you thought you’d never need could be useful. Speed. Distance. Velocity. Mass. Are the beads small or large? Short or long?  Single or in a full pack? With or without medallion attached? Applicable to other trinkets and toys as well. Consider the type of toss.  Underhand or overhand? Adult or child?  Factor in the level of inebriation. How badly does the krewe member sway and lean?  These float riders may throw intact bags of beads. Small muscle motor function is usually impaired. In short, they have difficulty opening the plastic bags.  Be brave. Be ready.

Good luck out there. Should you catch so many beads and trinkets that you have to consider paying the airline overweight charge, or you need to check an additional bag on your flight home, félicitations!

You did it! Be proud. Start planning a return trip. You know you can do better next year.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Throws

 

 


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Say what? New Orleans Speak

Say what? New Orleans Speak

Say what? New Orleans Speak – How to Sound Like A Local

The King Cake Baby  picture book is filled with local lingo which includes French vocabulary. Here’s a handy guide if you want to learn more about the language and sound like a local too. Enjoy!

NOLA historical marker

New Orleans: (noo OR-lunz, noo OR-lee-unz, noo AW-linz) a city in the state of Louisiana, former French and Spanish colony.

king cake baby: a small plastic replica of a baby hidden inside a king cake. People want to “get” the baby or find it in their piece of king cake.

king cake: an oval cake decorated in Mardi Gras colors of purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power).

Kings’ Day: celebrated every January 6th, the first day of the carnival season in Louisiana.

Creole (KREE-ohl) spelled Créole in French. Louisiana Creole is a culture and a language created by people in the colony when multiple old world cultures lived together in the new Louisiana territory during the French, then Spanish colonial periods and continued after the American purchase. Today, the culture is practiced and visible all over south Louisiana through statewide celebrations, use of Louisiana French, Louisiana Creole & Louisiana Spanish languages, architecture, food, music, traditions, festivals, and general joie de vivre.

ma chérie- (mah- SHAY-ree) French word, feminine, used in the English root for the word “cherish”. Means my dear or my darling.

French Quarter:  the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans since the founding of the city in 1718. Locals refer to the area as the “Quarter”. The original name is Vieux Carré (VOO cuh-RAY or Vyoo cuh-RAY ) which is French for “old square”.

Mardi Gras: (MAH-dee-graw or MAW-dee-graw) French for Fat Tuesday, the last day of the Carnival season. The length of the Carnival season varies, but always ends the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent on the Liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church.

French Quarter cottage: a small, single story creole style home.

mon ami: (mohn a-MEE) French, masculine, means “my friend’’ in English.

praline: (PRAH-leen), a creole candy made with sugar, butter, cream and pecans. A pralinière (prah-leen-YAIR) in French is a woman who sells pralines on the street. Not pronounced “pray-LEEN” in Louisiana.

How you doing dawlin’: (DAW-lyn) a local greeting; example of ”southern drawl” where vowels sounds are prolonged. Omission of the ”r” and final ”g” sounds is also common.

Jackson Square: originally named Place d’ Armes (plahs-DARM) during the French colonial period. The area, renamed Jackson Square after the Battle of New Orleans, showcases  an equestrian statue of US President Andrew Jackson.

Come with me by my house: New Orleans local lingo. Means to stop in, not to literally pass by.

Café du Monde: (kah-FAY DOO-mawnd) famous café located in the French Quarter neighborhood known for making the beignet (BEN-yay), a deep-fried French doughnut or fritter.

Where y’at: (yuh-AT) New Orleans local lingo, a traditional greeting and contraction for “you at’’. Y’at is pronounced with 2 syllables.

C’est la vie: (SAY- la-vee) French expression often used in New Orleans, means “such is life” in English.

Creole Queen Riverboat: an authentic paddlewheel riverboat in New Orleans known for Mississippi River cruises, built to mimic the days of Mark Twain.

Yeah, you right: a statement of agreement. Sometimes spoken as one word – YEAH-you-right.

Bon appétit: (BAW na-PAY-tee) French saying, “good appetite’’, means enjoy your meal in English.

 Next time – New Orleans street names!

 

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King Cake, Mardi Gras, Baby!

King Cake, Mardi Gras, Baby!

King cake, Mardi Gras, parades, krewes – all traditions unique to New Orleans and Louisiana culture here in the US.

Everyone in Louisiana knows what day it is! It’s Kings’ Day, January 6th, the first day of the Carnival Season!

When people learn I am from New Orleans, they often ask about our Carnival or Mardi Gras traditions. I always include a bit of history about king cake and the tiny plastic baby that is hidden inside. The idea for my upcoming debut picture book, The King Cake Baby, came to me while making a king cake. I couldn’t find a baby and panic ensued. If you don’t have a  king cake baby to hide inside, the pastry is just a cinnamon roll!

And I was listening to New Orleans music. So first, here’s a song. Sing along!

Eh là bas! Eh là bas! [Hey over there! Hey over there!]

Eh là bas chérie! [Hey over there, dear.]

Komen ça va? [How’s it going?]

(New Orleans musician Don Vappie on banjo and vocal)

Read on if you’d like to learn more about our traditions. The history of our Carnival and Louisiana king cake practices stem from the periods of colonization as well as English tradition. Combining cake customs from the French and Spanish rulers created the foundation for this Louisiana Creole tradition celebrated on the last day of le petite noël (Little Christmas or Feast of the Epiphany). The beginning of Carnival is always on January 6th and is also known as Kings’ Day. King cakes are baked and eaten throughout this time, known as the  pre-Lenten season. Carnival or “carne vale,” means “farewell to the flesh”. Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent, is the last day of Carnival. In 2015, Mardi Gras Day is February 17th. Although always a Tuesday, the date varies, therefore the length of the season does too. The number of days during Carnival depends on the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. It’s the time between Twelfth Night (in New Orleans, that’s between January 6th and the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday.) Actually, the date for Easter Sunday sets the length of the Mardi Gras season.

Carnival is celebrated all over the world. And cakes are made too. In France & Québec the cake is called La galette de rois, in Spain and places they colonized like Mexico, South America, Florida, and California the cake is called Rosca de Reyes or ring of kings, in Germany its Dreikonigskuchen, in Scotland, the Black Bun, in Portugal, Bola-Rei. And many more I did not mention. In Louisiana, king cake is a symbol associated with the spirit of Carnival.

Many are surprised to hear that Carnival was not always a mass public daytime celebration in New Orleans. The first Mardi Gras parades were organized in Mobile, Alabama! In 1837, when the people of New Orleans started publicly celebrating in the streets, they were so wild that the government almost banned these celebrations. Yikes! By 1856, the private club or ”krewe” named the Mistick Krewe of Comus from Mobile came to New Orleans to save Mardi Gras. They organized a festive and safe event with floats, masked members who paraded in the street wearing costumes, and hosted masquerade balls .

Credit for the merriment of Mardi Gras seen today in New Orleans goes to the Krewe of Rex dating back to 1872. When Russia’s Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff visited New Orleans, the Krewe of Rex arranged a daytime parade. In 1875 Mardi Gras became a legal state holiday. Decade after decade the celebration grew. More krewes started, bands and throws like beads and doubloons were added to the parades. With the addition of larger krewes and celebrity participation Mardi Gras in New Orleans became an international event.

Louisiana “king cake”, known as kings’ cake or three kings cake in Europe and Latin America, takes its name from Catholic liturgical tradition commemorated on January 6th that celebrates the visit of the Wise Men or three kings to visit the Baby Jesus. The Twelfth Night Revelers, a Carnival society from 1870 chose the “Lord of Misrule” as their king at their ball, following old English tradition. The following year they started the tradition of choosing a queen for his majesty on January 6th. Today that tradition continues, using a “mock” king cake, and the event is considered a kick-off to the Carnival season. King cake eventually became a symbol for the start of the Mardi Gras among locals who were not members of these grand societies. The Krewe of Rex chose the colors associated with Mardi Gras today; purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power also used to decorate king cakes. In the French tradition, originally a bean or la fève, was hidden inside a king cake. Early on Spain used figurines to represent the Baby Jesus. In Louisiana, pecans and even jewelry were used. However it wasn’t until the 1940’s, that a beloved New Orleans bakery, McKenzie’s, started using the plastic baby we see hidden in king cakes today. In Catholic tradition, the baby represents the Baby Jesus. Whoever gets the baby or whatever is hidden inside is supposed to bring the next king cake or host the next king cake party or could be “crowned” king or queen.

Retail stores love Christmas, florists love Valentine’s Day, chocolatiers love Easter, and Louisiana bakeries love the king cake season!  By 1950, the public began buying lots of king cakes. Today, thousands of cakes are eaten and shipped around the world during the Louisiana Mardi Gras season.

And now New Orleans hosts its very own King Cake Festival! The second annual King Cake Festival scheduled for January 25, 2015 is sure to be fun!

untitled

Starting today, EAT. KING. CAKE. if you are in New Orleans, join the festival. Plan a trip to see a Mardi Gras parade. Just don’t forget the baby mon ami!

 

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Happy New Year 2015! Bonne Année!

Happy New Year 2015! Bonne Année!

Happy New Year 2015! Bonne Année!

To everyone near and far, wishing you a very productive and prosperous year ahead. I am very excited the new year is finally here. And can’t wait to get started promoting my debut picture book, The King Cake Baby in February.

Until then, the baby extends his welcome to 2015 and has high expectations for the new year too.

KCB New Year & Ginger

 

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The King Cake Baby & Mr. Bingle

The King Cake Baby & Mr. Bingle

What do the King Cake Baby & Mr. Bingle have in common? They are both New Orleans icons. And about the same age too.

Slide1

Every baby boomer who grew up in New Orleans visited Mr. Bingle in the Maison Blanche window then went inside the store to take a photo with Santa himself. Credit for the creation of this Christmas icon goes to Mr. Emile Alline who was the window-display manager at the store. Back in 1948, a French Quarter puppeteer named Edwin H.Isentrout was hired to promote the little snowman named Mr. Bingle and advertise the MB franchise. Between the storefront window display, TV commercials, and visits to other store locations, the image became a New Orleans icon.

We can thank Daniel Entringer, Sr. for popularizing the icon of the small plastic baby known as the king cake baby hidden inside king cakes.. He was a cheesemaker from Wisconsin who bought McKenzie’s Pastry Shoppes from Henry McKenzie in 1932. At one time, McKenzie’s bakery was the most popular bakery in New Orleans offering sweets such as buttermilk drops, blackout cakes, petit fours, eclairs, and chocolate turtles to name a few, in addition to their famous king cakes. When a Carnival Krewe named the Twelfth Night Revelers asked Entringer to make king cakes for them, they supplied their own trinkets to hide inside the cake as custom dictated.  However, according to the history told, a friend of Entringer found a plastic baby in a French Quarter shop back in the 1940’s and suggested he use it. The baker started using the plastic baby then and created the tradition that continues to this very day. A king cake without a baby hidden inside is simply a cinnamon roll!

King Cakes are so popular in New Orleans, they have their very own Festival! Check out the King Cake Festival website here. Check out their facebook page for updates.

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All Saint’s Day vs. All Souls’ Day

All Saint’s Day vs. All Souls’ Day

Today, November 2, is All Soul’s Day, It is a day of prayer for the dead, particularly but not exclusively, our relatives. Whereas, yesterday, All Saint’s Day, the Catholic church asks followers to live as saints did, on All Souls’ Day we honor and ask for mercy for our ancestors and the souls departed from this world as we know it.

Yesterday, on All Saint’s Day, the family back home cleaned our family tombs in cemeteries around the city, some so old they were built when la Louisiane was still a colony. Today, on All Souls’ Day we honor our dead because we believe their souls and spirits live on even when the body dies. To us death is not creepy or scary, it’s a part of life. In a way, we keep our dead alive, the lines a little blurry. Our ancestors live on in those left behind in their families and communities. Those are our customs and traditions and in our culture, that’s the way we roll.

I lost two elders recently, an 5th cousin and my mother. Today they are in my thoughts and heart as are all the family departed I was fortunate to know in their lifetimes. As our family historian, I also honor our ancestors whose stories I have uncovered, buried in documents and dusty archives. Prayers up mama, love and miss you dearly. Tell everyone I said hello.

ECCLESIASTICUS 44TH CHAPTER, VERSES 1-10 AND VERSES 13-14.

Let us now sing the praises of famous men, our ancestors in their generations. The Lord apportioned to them great glory, his majesty from the beginning. There were those who ruled in their kingdoms, and made a name for themselves by their valor; those who gave counsel because they were intelligent; those who spoke in prophetic oracles; those who led the people by their counsels and by their knowledge of the people’s lore; they were wise in their words of instruction; those who composed musical tunes, or put verses in writing; rich men endowed with resources, living peacefully in their homes-all these were honored in their generations, and were the pride of their times. Some of them have left behind a name, so that others declare their praise. But of others there is no memory; they have perished as though they had never existed; they have become as though they had never been born, they and their children after them. But these also were godly men, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten. Their offspring will continue forever, and their glory will never be blotted out. Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name lives on generation after generation.

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National Gumbo Day!

National Gumbo Day!

It’s National Gumbo Day!

And all Louisianans know nothing stirs the emotions like a discussion about food. But we all know the answers to the questions often asked by visitors to New Orleans, “Who makes the best gumbo in the city?” The typical reply is, “My mama.” Or “Where do I go to eat the best gumbo in the city?”  That answer is, “My kitchen.” Because our mamas taught us to make our gumbos.

So what’s all the fuss about? Firstly, Gumbo is the official cuisine of Louisiana. Easy to understand why any origins to the dish would then elevate a group to a special status. However the name of the dish itself is a perfect analogy to the culture of Louisiana, it’s a mixed pot.

The first reference to ”gombeau” in New Orleans was in 1764 discovered by Louisiana colonial historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall. It’s a record of testimony written in French and archived in the records of the French Superior Council. Of course this does not mean others who lived in the territory before 1764 were not making the dish, but often the reference to 1802 as the first record of gumbo is incorrect. In 1764 we know where in the world people came from who lived in the colony and who they found living there upon arrival. We know the Choctaw, an indigenous Louisiana people thickened soups using filé, still used today to thicken many gumbos and some believe used the term ‘kombo-lichi’ to refer to such dishes. We know ki ngombo is the Bantu word for okra, another staple used in some gumbos. And today, we know a good gumbo requires a roux, a mixture of flour and a fat like butter, used in classical French cooking as a thickening agent. But these facts still don’t answer the question about the origin of the dish. Maybe that’s a good thing because like all those ingredients put in a gumbo pot, what comes out is something special and unique. Just like me and everyone out there with Louisiana roots.

Happy Sunday Gumbo Day!

gumbo

 

 

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Lionel Ferbos 1911-2014

Lionel Ferbos 1911-2014

Lionel Ferbos, a kind and gentle soul who loved his family, his jazz and his hometown has died. Lionel lived for 103 years. He played his trumpet until the age of 102. And although his loss will be felt far and wide.

Lionel believed everyone should ”keep on smiling”.  It’s easy to smile thinking of him. It’s hard not seeing him smile back.

He’s now an ancestor, joining all the others who moved on before him. It’s a gig that will last forever. And looking back at his life, so will his memory and his music.

Keep on Smiling by Lionel Ferbos

Lionel blowing trumpet

 

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2014 King Cake Festival Winners!!

2014 King Cake Festival Winners!!

2014 King Cake Festival Winners! Congratulations!

Best Traditional King Cake: Bakers Dozen
Best Filled King Cake: Mr. RONNIE’S FAMOUS HOT DONUTS
Best Savory King Cake: Loretta’s Authentic Pralines
Best Non-Traditional King Cake: Ye Olde Bake Shoppe
Best Baby: Thee Heavenly Donut
Best Looking King Cake: Bakers Dozen

People’s Choice:
3rd Place: Maurice French Pastries
2nd Place: Manny Randazzo’s
1st Place Haydel’s Bakery

kc fest haydel winner

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Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale

Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale
Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale
Written by: Lorraine Johnston
Illustrated by: Preston Asevedo
Mascot Books, April 2013, Fiction
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: kindness, courage, community, cultural awareness
 
Brief Synopsis: An alligator at the New Orleans Audubon Zoo gets into colorful trouble when Scottish tourists ignore the sign “DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS AT ANY TIME”. A little girl comes to the rescue through the help of local shopkeepers.
 
Opening pages:  “If you’re ever going to visit Audubon Zoo, remember this story, it is quite true. There is an old alligator who sits in his pen. He’s got quite a story, it all started when…”
 
Why I like this book: Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale written by Scottish author Lorraine Johnston weaves the love of her own culture with the culture of New Orleans through her choice of setting and characters. Themes and topics addressed are valuable teaching tools. The alligator learns there are consequences when rules are broken. A little girl shows kindness and courage by her desire and actions to help him solve his problem. And through cooperation with a community chocolate shop, the little girl helps the alligator return to his original self.

 LTG

 

 

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Queen Punxsutawney Phyllis, Krewe of Marmotte

Queen Punxsutawney Phyllis, Krewe of Marmotte

Punxsutawney Phyllis knows that girl groundhogs can do anything boy groundhogs can do. And she proves it to her Uncle Punxsutawney Phil when she is able to make an accurate prediction on Groundhogs Day.

And you know what else Phyllis knows? Girl Groundhogs rule! That’s right, Phyllis went down to New Orleans this month during Carnival, ate a piece of King Cake and got the baby. Now Phyllis is the Queen of the Krewe of Marmotte (that’s groundhog in French)!

You go girl!

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

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Punxsutawney Phyllis by Susan Leonard Hill, Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler

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Louisiana culture celebrated on Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Louisiana culture celebrated on Multicultural Children’s Book Day

In celebration of the first annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day I choose to highlight “Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras La Chatte Noire” written by Todd-Michael St. Pierre and illustrated by Diane Millsap. The book is about a cat who lives in Jackson Square in the Vieux Carré (French Quarter) neighborhood of New Orleans. The cat searches for a friend and visits many historical spots in the quarter and around the city. The book is written in English and French. What a lovely tribute to the city of New Orleans!

Happy reading y’all!

Mardi Gras La Chatte Noire

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The 1st King Cake Festival

The 1st King Cake Festival

What do you need in the most festive city in the USA? Another festival! The 1st Annual King Cake Festival coming this February. It’s a family friendly festival too. Live performances, kid’s games, stroller fun run and of course a King Cake competition. And it’s FREE.

Wish I could be there with y’all. Have fun! Eat King Cake. AND DON’T FORGET THE BABY!  http://www.ochsner.org/king-cake-festival/

KC festival

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It’s Still Christmas Y’all!

It’s Still Christmas Y’all!

While most of us celebrate January 1st as the New Year, according to the Catholic Church calendar it’s still Christmas! The Twelve Days of Christmas is the period between December 25th, Christmas Day and the Feast of the Epiphany on January 5th or 6th.

Just about everyone knows the song, the Twelve Days of Christmas. If not, the first stanza should spark your memory, ”On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree.” Although Catholics link the song to a clever way to teach Catholicism when Puritans banned the English from celebrating Christmas and the Catholic faith back in the 16th century, such claims are speculative due to lack of evidence. However faith is typically used as an anchor to deduce that the possibility does indeed exist. Researchers have actually traced the genesis of the song regardless of one’s belief about the reason behind its origin.

The song first appeared in Mirth without Mischief, a book published in England in the year 1780. Daft Days where the King of Fools reigned was part of the Christmas and pagan winter solstice celebrations in medieval England. Pranks and causing mischief were common. The tune to the song believed to date back to France. Turns out the song, filled with verses that appear random, was a ”memory and forfeits” game for children in the 18th century. A very old version of ”I went to the market and bought…” played today to help children develop memory and concentration. This game became popular to play during parties on the 12th night of Christmas.

Today, the lack of celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas really does speak to the secularization of Christmas. Advent is better known and more celebrated as the build up to Christmas Day. It is the time of preparation to celebrate the coming birth of Jesus. But even Advent calendars are more about receiving than giving. Perhaps the reason for the complete Christmas season has been lost in the commercialization of Christmas. In accordance to the liturgical year, the Twelve Days of Christmas is the period after the birth of Jesus and a part of the Christmas celebration. At one time, over these 12 days people celebrated with merriment, spent time with family, gave charity to the poor and prepared to celebrate the life of Jesus here on earth. It just seems these days as Christmas is marketed earlier and earlier (before Halloween!), it’s easy to feel Christmas ends the morning presents are opened.

One tradition my son makes sure we don’t forget takes place on Christmas Eve. That’s the day we put up our Christmas tree, watch old Christmas movies, and tell stories about ornaments as they are hung with care. I guess in our own way, that’s how we celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas that begins on Christmas Eve. No one is able to run away from the commercialism of Christmas, and our family certainly participates in the shopping frenzy. But traditions are reminders of why we do the things we do. As long as these traditions continue we will remember.

Happy New Year to all! Wishing you joy, peace, and happiness in 2014!

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Win, lose or tie, I’m a Who-Dat till I die!

Win, lose or tie, I’m a Who-Dat till I die!

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The New Orleans Saints fell to the Seattle Seahawks Monday night. Did I say fell? The Seahawks crushed the Saints 34-7. But I think Drew Brees should be proud. That young twenty-something 2nd year NFL quarterback claims Drew is a player he looks up to. And since imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, Wilson imitated a young Drew all. night. long. Ouch.

So we didn’t get to brag about making Seahawk gumbo. But here’s something about a Saint’s fan, especially those of us who still remember the paper bag era teams, and when the dome reopened after Katrina, and the Superbowl Championship of 2009, win, lose or tie, we’re Who-Dats till we die!

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