So I haven't watched a show on CBS in a really long time. It's basically "the procedural" network and I'm not a huge fan of those kinds of shows. I tend to like a more character-driven story. And while I knew that NCIS: New Orleans was a thing, it wasn't exactly on my radar until my mom kept asking me about it.
She likes to do this. If New Orleans is featured on any TV show ever, she calls me. If a rerun from any number of Anthony Bourdain's shows is on, she asks if I've seen it yet. If her and my dad are watching Deja Vu and Denzel Washington is hanging off of the Crescent City Connection, I get to hear about it. It's cute.
But NCIS is on a whole different level. My mom lives for these kind of shows (crime procedurals), and now that it's in New Orleans? She's just so excited. Plus, I think she really likes Scott Bakula. Like Mark Harmon in NCIS: Original Recipe, he's "mom hot".
But there's a problem. I totally forgot that I was supposed to watch it, because the one and only network show I watch regularly is on at the exact same time. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is my show. I love that show so hard. Agent Phil Coulson rocks my world, not Agent Dwayne Pride (Scott Bakula). But that's what DVRs and internet-watching is for these days, right?
So I made it a point to watch NCIS: New Orleans the other day. There are two episodes up on CBS.com. I was going in with an open mind even though I knew I didn't like crime procedurals. I wanted to watch anyway because it took place in my city ... but the very first scene made me want to slam my head on my desk.
Picture it. Two shrimpers. One looks at the other's girlfriend wrong.
He actually says this. This is a written line of dialogue that someone created, thinking that people who catch shrimp in Louisiana would actually say something like this.
And then they find a severed leg buried in the shrimp.
I was so ready to hate this show ... then the intro started.
And I loved the logo. I'm such a sucker for good design.
The pilot episode of any TV show is always going to be at least sort of clunky, needing to tell a quick story to an audience to hook them and also set the stage, usually with lots of forced exposition ... so I can look past some of the more cringe-worthy lines. Such as when the main character Dwayne Pride says to a visiting colleague, "You just couldn’t stay away from my gumbo.” I'm pretty sure that everyone watching in New Orleans did a collective face-palm ... because one, no one would ever say that. And two, it just sounds kind of dirty. "You just couldn't stay away from my gumbo ..." wink wink nudge nudge.
But whatever, I kept watching.
Throughout the viewing, I discovered the main players, who are all refreshingly likable. In the picture up top, starting at far left ... is Meredith Brody (Zoe McLellan), recent Midwestern transplant. She's my girl. Apparently, us midwestern transplants are so common in New Orleans now, that we warrant an area-archetype. Should I be proud?
Next we have Dwayne Pride (Scott Bakula), who will always be Dr. Sam Beckett to me. I was a total Quantum Leap fangirl when I was little. Anyway, he's amiable enough and Scott Bakula usually does a pretty good job at the accent. At least he tries, you know? "A" for effort. He lives at his office, which seems to be a gorgeous French Quarter carriage house ... even though it's hinted that he has a wife in a Lower-Garden District home. He also cooks (gumbo apparently) and plays jazz piano, because of course he cooks and plays jazz piano. He's from New Orleans, duh.
Then there is Sebastian. He works at the morgue and is a socially-awkward neurotic geek. Because what other kind of geek is there? He's teased for wanting a "Lord of the Rings" tattoo and I don't see what's wrong with this, like at all. But I digress.
The head morgue person is Dr. Loretta Wade played by C.C.H. Pounder, and I love her. She's been in so many shows and movies over the years that it's hard to keep up. She was amazing on the last season of Sons of Anarchy, and she acts circles around the rest of these people. Throughout the two episodes I watched, I was amazed at how she handled the clunky dialogue ... LIKE A BOSS. She is my favorite.
And finally, we have Christopher LaSalle played by Lucas Black, who was adorable in that Jackie Robinson biopic 42 and is just about the cutest thing ever. He rocks an Alabama accent ... probably because he's actually from Alabama. And he's the only person in the history of my life to say "Roll Tide" and I didn't want to punch them in the face.
I was actually about ready to write this show off as totally cheesy, until he had a scene with the midwestern transplant where she explains that she doesn't want advice on where to live because she doesn't like to mix business and personal lives. Christopher basically shuts her down and is like, "that's not how we do things around here, we're all one big family." Boom. Now there's some truth about New Orleans, right there. I can dig it. We're all one big family, even the transplants.
Also? About their office. It should be listed on Forbes best places to work ever, because these people work in a beautiful French Quarter carriage house that has a kitchen (where Dwayne Pride makes andouille sausage and remoulade sauce, as one does at work all the time in New Orleans), and a courtyard to chill, order bread pudding delivery, and solve crimes next to a picturesque fountain.
Just your typical workplace kitchen.
So my final verdict? I'll keep watching, because after you get past the stereotypical New Orleans-isms that they have to throw in, it's actually kind of a charming show. So far, no one is unlikable, which is actually pretty hard to find in a television show. Also? I watch for the unintentional comedy ... like when Dwayne Pride (seriously, how awesome is the name "Dwayne Pride?") complains that his hazmat suit is too tight ... he says "I feel like an andouille sausage in a really right casing." I laughed so hard. It really wasn't that tight.
Come on, you just really wanted to say "andouille sausage", admit it.
Want to watch NCIS: New Orleans? The first two episodes are up on CBS.com for free and new ones air on Tuesdays. I'll be DVRing. And perhaps collecting "Dwayne Pride-isms".
I can't believe I'm actually writing this, but October is fast-approaching. The summer has been a bit strange, as at times it has felt like it was rushing by, and at other times it's felt as if it's trudging along at an agonizingly slow-as-molasses pace ... such as this morning when I left my house and it was in the upper 80's.
The fall has always been the best season, in my humble opinion, with October being my absolute favorite, but these last few years have felt sadly lacking. It seems as if there's something almost automatic happening, as if there's just an assembly-line of products thrown at us that we're supposed to just accept. Halloween candy is the same exact candy as Easter candy and Valentine's Day candy ... it's just that the packaging is orange and black instead of pastels or red and pink. Is there no candy just for Halloween? Besides candy corn ... I've always thought those were kind of gross.
I just feel things could stand to be a little refreshed this Halloween season. There's a few things that just need to go away ... or at least change a wee bit. Such as ...
Ever since I was little, pumpkin pie was always my favorite holiday dessert ... and as an adult, pumpkin spice lattes always took a sizable chunk out of my income once September came around and Starbucks started selling them. Unfortunately, I live nowhere near a Starbucks right now, as I'm sure the Marigny/Bywater residents would chase out such an establishment with pitchforks. I realize that there are other, much better, coffee shops out there to satisfy an autumn-flavored java craving ... but sadly, it's just not the same. I fully admit to being Starbucks' bitch in this respect ... but I blame them completely for the out-of-hand pumpkin-craze that we've been experiencing for the past few years.
The pumpkin is the official and unequivocal vegetable of the month of October. It's also the official scent ... even though it's more the spices that usually go along with pumpkin than the actual pumpkin itself.
And hell, I'm not saying to get rid of pumpkin-stuff, because that would just be sacrilegious to the month of October ... and pumpkins are just fun. You eat them, bake the pumpkin seeds, carve them up, there's just so many things to be done with them. However. I think we should start trying a few other things. Variety is the spice of life! I think that pumpkin and "pumpkin spice", i.e., cinnamon, nutmeg, sometimes ginger and allspice (maybe clove), should go on a break. There are other lovely pairings. Pumpkin and sage? Pumpkin and brown butter? Pumpkin and curry powder, garam masala, chinese five-spice. ANYTHING other than that spice bottle with the pumpkin pie on it.
(WTF? I don't remember her from the movies)
This has just been getting out of hand. I'm actually afraid to look at this year's crop of seasonal aisle women's Halloween costumes. It doesn't matter what it is, if a man wants to be anything, be it a superhero, a video game character, or a monster ... he gets to wear pants. If a woman wants to be a superhero, a video game character, or a monster ... she gets to wear a skimpy piece of polyester and plastic. There's no more scary witches ... only sexy ones. Same goes for vampires. Same goes for superheros.
Halloween should be fun. If you want to dress up as something "sexy", by all means, go for it ... but don't feel like you have to. Also, it might be cold, so wearing pants is probably a good thing ... and walking around on Halloween night in heels is definitely not comfortable, I don't care how much you have to drink in order to mask the pain.
I say that we ladies should revolt this year. We should go as something grotesque, boycott all the "sexy" costumes, we should go for comfort. And fright. We should scare all the evil spirits walking the Earthly plane on Halloween night ... not attract them with skimpy plastic costumes.
Recycled Horror Movies
They're making another Insidious movie, a spin-off of The Conjuring, a remake of Poltergeist and even rebooting Leprechaun. And a Paranormal Activity part 11 (kidding, I think they're only up to 5 or 6 now). Are there no more stories left to tell?
Also this season, we'll be treated to Dracula (Untold) ... which, okay, I actually think I might want to watch. Even though there are a million other Dracula movies/TV shows. We needed to have one more, the "untold" version ... because out of the plethora of other versions, there's still one more story in there somewhere.
And, Luke Evans (in armor!) ... who, after watching The Hobbit movie last year, I decided I'd probably watch just about anything he was in. Basically, if he was in Paranormal Activity 11 ... I'd probably watch it. Integrity, I have none.
I feel as if my life has become very boring lately. It could be a summer thing, and I have absolutely no desire to go out and do anything interesting while the sun is up. Or it could be that work has been crazy and when I get home, I'm exhausted and would rather stay in, read, and eat Spaghetti-Os. It could also be because I just moved into a new house and a lot of my life is still in boxes ... including most of my kitchen utensils, hence the Spaghetti-Os.
The other thing that has be questioning my once robust ambition to go out, have fun, and be social, was this whole "ice bucket challenge" phenomenon. A few days ago, I had a friend call me up and ask if I wanted to get a beer ... I was like, "nah, I'd rather stay in and watch Benedict Cumberbatch get ice water thrown in his face, over and over again in gif format." It was also a good distraction from all the unpacking I still have to do ... a very nice distraction indeed.
And there are so many ... my favorite was Chris Pratt's challenge, who drank a bottle of Smirnoff Ice before someone dumped ice water on his head. Oh, Star-Lord, how I love you.
And Drew Brees had a pretty good one ... he did it "slip n slide" style ... because he's cool like that.
But after you get past all the celebrities in clingy wet t-shirts, you have to find yourself asking ... why?
Like a few weeks ago with the whole #ImSoNewOrleans tag on Twitter, it starts out kind of cool, but then starts to descend dramatically when the mainstream catches onto it, and it suddenly becomes uncool.
You look a a standard Facebook feed right now, and there's at least one back-lash post to counteract a good ice bucket challenge ... things like, "you don't need to dump water on your head, JUST DONATE" ... or, something about water conservation, and okay, if you live in an area with a drought, that's valid ... but have you seen some of these celebrities do their challenges? I loved Tom Hiddleston's as much as the next girl, but it looked like he put three pieces of ice in his bucket. That's not going to drain the water supply.
The other thing is ... sure, you could just donate, but this is about AWARENESS. And since the beginning of this whole thing, the ALS foundation has raised 80 MILLION dollars, where as during the same period last year, they raised 2.5 million. So, something is working.
Another part of the equation is that it's just fun. Hell, Steve Gleason did his challenge naked ("because everything is better when you're naked", he said), and if he was into it, then it's cool in my book, as Team Gleason is extremely important to us New Orleanians. Also, it's just so fascinating to me how social media trends can essentially bring the whole world together in ways that would have been impossible only a few years ago. Sometimes it's important to just laugh a little bit and not take life too seriously. Yes, ALS is a terrible terrible disease, I had an aunt that passed away a few years ago from it ... and I really think she would have loved this whole thing. It's important to be positive and put good vibes out there ... I think something fun like the ice bucket challenge, definitely puts good vibes out into the world, when right now so much is negative ... I mean, watching CNN the past few weeks has been pretty damn depressing.
The only thing I would have liked to see more out of all the celebrity videos, was a mention of an ALS charity to donate to, instead of just nominating someone else, as many of them didn't do it.
And I'm still waiting on Jimmy Graham's.
But in the meantime, I did get nominated by my husband ... who enjoyed dumping ice water on my head a little too much.
Quite honestly, doing an ice bucket challenge in New Orleans in late August, isn't much of a challenge ... it was actually pretty damn refreshing ... but the ice was still quite a shock.
In return, I nominate fellow blogger Eve Crawford Peyton and my brother John. You've been challenged!
And I'll be donating to Team Gleason, once again HERE is the link.
It used to be that the summertime meant that the only shows on TV were reruns, so you were compelled to spend a lot more time outside and in the sunshine, doing summery things. Now we have the "Golden Age" of television, so you can binge-watch awesome shows in the air-conditioning if it gets too hot outside. Either that, or the handful of reality summer staples that I usually avoid like the plague ... such as Big Brother and America's Got Talent.
For the past few months, I don't think my TV has been switched to any of the major networks such as NBC, ABC or CBS ... everything has been about cable. Here are a few of the better summer shows.
True Blood, HBO
Louisiana's own True Blood. It seemed like at one point, there were a gazillion shows set in Louisiana or New Orleans (American Horror Story, Top Chef), and now it seems like they're dropping like flies. Now all we'll have left is The Originals on the CW, where the main vampire calls our city "New Orleeeenz".
And they're wrapping things up like mad on this show. They'll start a plot-thread that is resolved one or two episodes later, bringing back characters like my old TV boyfriend, Hoyt Fortenterry, and generally making me very sad that this show is ending. Why couldn't it have been this good the past few seasons?
There are only a few episodes left, and while I'm glad that it's ending on a relatively good note, I'll still be sad for it to go.
The Strain, FX
This show is seriously creeping me out, though I shouldn't be surprised given that Guillermo del Toro is behind it. It's seriously messed up. And disgusting. It's a show about vampires, but pretty much the opposite of the True Blood vampires. These guys are not sexy ... actually they can't be sexy because their sex organs disappear after being turned. They're more like a hybrid of vampires and zombies ... and parasitic worms.
The Bridge, FX
I really liked season 1 this cop drama about the dynamics between the border cities of El Paso and Juarez. I haven't warmed up to the second season, though I'm still watching. Though I'm not sure how they managed to do it, but they found a new big bad that's even creepier than last year's. A woman.
I started watching this drama about a family of rulers in a fictional middle-eastern city on a whim. Mainly because it was the only thing on at the time and I really liked the pilot episdode, even though the show has gotten reviews ranging from luke-warm to terrible. But as I keep watching, the less I like it. I've come to the conclusion that no one should be alone a room with Jamal, the volitile psychotic brother ... because if you do, you're either going to be maimed or murdered. That's basically the whole premise. Jamal maims and murders, and the much hotter brother stands by and watches in horror.
The Leftovers, HBO
This has been pretty much the opposite of Tyrant. I hated the pilot episode, thinking it was too bleak and tragic. I wondered how so many cool people could be involved with this show ... but I love Justin Theroux, Christopher Eccleston, and Liv Tyler, so I kept watching. I'm glad I did, because the past few episodes have been pretty great. I still have no idea what's going to happen or what this show is really about ... where some kind of rapture occurs and 2% of the population disappears, but it's not really a rapture. Sure. I'll the first season a whirl.
It's a story of Scotland and time-travel, two of my favorite things to read about. I can't tell you how obsessed I was with these books in college. I'd skip class to read them ... it was so bad. I lost so much sleep because of this series and I've been totally fangirling over the show. You can view the first episode online for free and it's totally worth it. But beware ... it can take over your life. And if you read the books, prepare to be consumed for several weeks.
Breaking Bad, AMC
Since it seems as if AMC doesn't have anything to show right now, they're airing reruns of Breaking Bad on Sunday nights complete with cast interviews and extras. I watched a few episodes last week and it's always fun to go back and watch to see all the Easter eggs you missed the first go-around. The show is so intriciately woven that no matter how many times you view it, you'll probably notice something new.
Sons of Anarchy, FX
The last season starts up soon. I'm excited to see how this modern-day "Hamlet" plays out.
The Killing, Netflix
I'm on the fence about watching this. AMC dropped it, but for some reason Netflix picked it up, letting them wrap it up with its 4th season. I'm not sure why, but I watched the first three ... probably because something infinitely better was on before it. Also, Joel Kinnamen isn't so bad. Not bad at all.
After season 1, I was like COME ON (if your tag-line is "Who killed Rosie Larsen", and you don't explain that by the end of the season, you are an asshole of a show) ... and then after season two, I was like ... whatever, that's who killed Rosie Larsen? Pshhhhh. And then season three looked so promising! A new plot! Homeless teens! But it was still so bad ... so bleak ... so pointless. I'm not getting burned again.
But then again ... I watched the other seasons. So maybe if I'm really bored and desperate, but I probably won't be. I'll probably just rewatch episodes of Outlander if it comes to that.
I'm sure everyone has seen it by now ... the #ImSoNewOrleans tag on Twitter and Facebook ... it's actually now a thing of the past .. but that's the trouble with having a bi-weekly blog. Sometimes things pass by so quickly, that by the time I can write about it, it's very tired and old news.
Internet memes come and go so fast. They're insanely popular one day, and then by the time you see your mom participating in one, you know it's done ... not cool anymore.
And by the time someone starts making anti-memes, you know it's seriously not cool anymore. It's now cool to hate on said internet meme, with more internet memes.
And so we get the backlash tag. Anyone still participating in #ImSoNewOrleans ... is now NOT New Orleans at all. It's unacceptable. The whole thing has now become so annoying, that only those transplant people are doing it.
So now that it's probably only transplants and grandmas still doing #ImSoNewOrleans, I've decided to make mine honest.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... I eat a roast beef po boy with a knife and fork.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... I go straight for the corn at a crawfish boil.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... it doesn't phase me when kids call me "Annie" instead of "Miss Annie".
#ImSoNewOrleans ... I'll eat red beans & rice on a Tuesday.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... I enjoy hanging out in the French Quarter from time to time, even Bourbon St.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... that making a U-turn feels inherently wrong.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... I pronounce pralines, PRAY-lines ... and my husband always corrects me. I can't help it.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... that it feels clandestine when I walk down the street with an open container.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... that I sometimes call a "go cup" a "to-go cup" and people snicker at me.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... that as a transplant, I roll my eyes at other transplants ... including myself.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... I still get Houma and Harahan mixed up.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... I thought Treme was kind of boring (don't hate me).
#ImSoNewOrleans ... I flinch when someone greets me with a kiss on the cheek.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... a few inches of snow or temperatures in the single digits doesn't phase me.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... I'm sometimes stupid enough to go outside without sunscreen and bug repellent in the summer.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... I was chastised the other day for being kind of grossed out while peeling shrimp.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... I prefer the Voodoo Festival to Jazz Fest (don't hate me).
#ImSoNewOrleans ... I love bounce music (that one might actually be #SoNewOrleans)
#ImSoNewOrleans ... that I stay inside during the daytime in the summer. It's SO HOT OUT THERE!
#ImSoNewOrleans ... that I rarely venture outside of New Orleans by crossing a river or a lake.
#ImSoNewOrleans ... I have no idea where you got dem shoes.
That last one is a joke, I swear.
Now that summer flings are a thing of the past (marriage puts a damper on that kind of thing), I've always felt like a nice summer obsession is a good way to go. Last summer I was obsessed with taking pictures of inanimate objects that had faces. Like this:
But this summer, it seems to be ice cream, as I've been trying my hand at making my own. It started a few months ago when I was thinking about my favorite ice cream as a kid and was then determined to recreate it. Nothing stays with you quite like a memory of something you looked forward to as a kid. For me, it was this special soft-serve ice cream sold at an amusement park outside of Cincinnati called Kings Island.
They used to have a "smurf" ride, kind of like "It's a Small World" at Disney World, only with smurfs. After the ride, there was a strategically-placed ice cream stand that sold blue "smurf" ice cream, and it was the best thing I ate all year. I coudn't even tell you what flavor it was, it was just blue. Blue raspberry? I don't know, maybe. Blueberry? I don't think so. But it was better than pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Better than hot chocolate at Christmas. For the summer in Ohio, you looked forward to a few things ... swimming, no school, and smurf ice cream.
For the Ohioans around my age, there was a very distressing time in our adolescence ... when they took that smurf ride down and replaced it with a haunted house. Since there were no more smurfs, there was no more smurf ice cream ... they changed the name to "Dino" ice cream because of a Flintstones ride nearby, but it was never the same. Somehow Dino just didn't fit with the blue. Dino was purple. It was a sad time.
Now that I live in New Orleans, the chances of going back to Kings Island to see if they still have that ice cream stand in some incarnation are pretty nil, so I figured that I'd try to create it myself. So far, I haven't gotten it right, but I'm not going to give up.
I have, however, made some pretty amazing avocado coconut, bananas foster, strawberry buttermilk, and chocolate ice creams. Also, a bangin' banana split for the 4th of July.
And now that I've got all these flavors in my head, and all these ideas, I've been asking people what I should make next, and I feel now that I can tell a lot about someone by their favorite ice cream flavor.
Most people will try to be creative, and that's cool, but If someone tells me something like, "sriracha ice cream", I have to fight not to roll my eyes too hard. And if someone tells me that they like something like straight-up chocolate, I feel like that person knows themselves pretty well. They know what they like and are not afraid to admit it. No nonsense. Unpretentious. My kind of person.
For New Orleans, the big summer treat is the Sno Ball, but lately I've just been wanting to try good old-fashioned ice cream (nope, not fro-yo), and since learning how to make it myself, buying it at the supermarket just doesn't cut it anymore. The good stuff is in the shops, and fortunately, we have plenty of options. Here are my current faves:
La Divina Cafe
I like this place because it's relatively close to me. I can hop on my bike and head into the FQ for a fix. I've found that most of the best ice cream places are unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) on the other side of town from me.
Quintin's Ice Cream
This is probably hands down, my favorite ice cream. Quintin's coconut ice cream is a dream. Like one of those really awesome and naughty dreams that you don't want to wake up from.
The Creole Creamery
If I find myself on Prytania, I must stop here. It's a requirement.
It's famous for a reason!
I'm probably missing several great places around town, but that's just because I haven't tried them yet. I can only consume so many calories. But if you have suggestions, I love to hear them. Also, there's nothing like the tried and true Blizzard from Dairy Queen, but I haven't had one of those since moving down here, as there are definitely no Dairy Queens around where I live.
(train tracks in my hood)
Next week marks my 5-year anniversary of living in New Orleans ... and I can't believe it. And now I have that David Bowie song in my head (Five Years), while thinking of all the ch-ch-ch-changes (sorry, I went there ... rock gods strike me down) that have taken place in my life and around me.
I must admit, it's flown by ... but in another way, it feels like I've been here all my life, like this is truly home.
But even though it feels like things have always been the way they are now, they're truly not. My life is so so different than the one I came down here with. The only thing that has stayed the same is change itself, it's always flowing around me, and I've come to accept it. It's never going to go away, so I've learned to at least try to make friends with it. After all, every time I've embraced change instead of railing against it, my life has ended up the better for it.
While in college, my marketing professor said that whenever he turned an age with a "0" or a "5" in the number, he'd look at his bookshelf and wonder where that novel was he was supposed to have written. Ever since hearing that, I've kind of done the same thing ... and now I find myself thinking about my 5 years in New Orleans. Have I done a decent job? Am I doing everything I want to be doing? Of course, there's so many more things I want to do here, but I think I've done a pretty decent job so far.
And there have been lots of changes, that's for sure ... here's a few. Some are much more serious than others. And some are not serious at all, because if you've read my blog, you'll know that I'm only serious about half of the time. Seriously.
1. My neighborhood. The Bywater has changed quite a bit from when I moved here. There used to be crack zombies that hung out on the corner by my house, and now it's pretty much "hipster Haight-Asbury". I can't say which incarnation I prefer, quite honestly.
2. My friends. When I first moved to New Orleans, for some reason, I met several people from Ohio to watch Buckeye games with. I also became great friends with a few other transplants. They've all moved away, sadly. Only one remains. One! People ask me all the time if I ever plan on going back to Ohio, and I have to tell them "hell no". I love it here. And also, I quite literally married New Orleans ... which brings me to ...
3. Husband. I married a southern boy. When I moved down here, I was very much a single lady and met my future-husband within a few weeks. He impressed me with his manners and knowledge of pop culture. The rest is history.
4. Step-kids. With the husband came two step-kids, and this has probably been one of the most challenging things I've ever done in my life. It has certainly made me appreciate my own parents, as well as form quite a bit of respect for other parents as well ... and especially stepparents. We're kind of like life's equivalent of the british and how they always play the bad guy in movies. But the whole experience has taught me about what's important. I don't sweat the small stuff like I used to, that's for sure.
5. Football. I grew up in a college town, so I was always a Buckeye fan and didn't care too much about the NFL. The year I moved to New Orleans, the Saints went to the superbowl. The whole experience of going to watch all the games, especially during their winning streak, was absolutely wonderful and crazy and awesome. I am now a serious Saints fan. I doubt I'll ever care much for LSU, but am now a proud member of the Who Dat Nation.
6. Bounce. I've kind of been addicted to bounce music lately ... I listen to it at work. It seriously makes my day. I love it.
7. Basketball. I now love ... oh, hell who am I kidding. I still don't really care about basketball. Sorry, Pelicans.
8. Career. I started out as a straight-up graphic designer, and it's what I did day in and day out. Now I'm still a designer, but I also write, and I also cook ... and I'm infinitely happier. Another thing, is that when I was living in Ohio, a lot of the time, I'd dread going into work in the morning. I'd live for Fridays and hate Sundays because that meant I had to go back to the grind the next day. I can honestly say that I've rarely felt that in New Orleans. Work has always been a pleasure.
9. Hippie-dom. For the first time since I was 16, I don't have a car. My husband has a car ... and he takes it to work with him for 2 weeks at a time, so I'm pretty much on my own a lot. It's strangely liberating. Most of what I need is within biking distance, and it's cancelled out morning commutes and road rage. I can't say I miss it too much.
10. Support-system. When I moved to New Orleans, I only knew one person. Soon after that, I knew a few more people, and then met some pretty amazing people at work. 5 years later, and I feel like I have friends all over the city, even though so many have moved away. Folks really are so welcoming here, the Louisiana natives and the transplants, because everyone embraces the unique spirit of the city. You have to, or you won't last long.
I'm being quite honest when I say that I never want to leave ... I mean, I want to go on trips, of course, and maybe even extended ones, but I always want to come back to New Orleans. It's home. Here's to 5 more years ... and 10, 15, 20, you get the picture.
It's getting hot, there's no getting around it anymore. In all actuality, we've been pretty damn lucky this year as the weather has actually been pretty mild heading into the summer. But not anymore ... It's officially sweltering out there, you guys.
And we all know that when New Orleans heats up, things start getting a bit slow out there. The lazy heat makes us want to stay inside in the respite of our air conditioners.
But there's still plenty to do, even if our city has quited down a bit. Here's a few hot (as in popular) things going on to get us through the summer months.
New Orleans Bars Covering The World Cup
Soccer fans are a different breed than football or basketball fans. I'm not sure why. I have no explanation. I just remember during the South Africa World Cup when a friend and I went to Markey's to watch a USA game. We both looked at each other and were like, "have you ever seen so many hot guys in here?" No. We had not. The same is true for Brazil. General eye-candy all-around, ladies. From the screen and from the audience. USA!
The very last season starts up on Sunday. We're starting to lose some of our Louisiana-set shows! No more "True Detective" in our state and pretty soon, no more "True Blood".
Oh, how I used to love this show. Oh, how disappointed I've been the last few seasons ... but I still keep watching, and I have faith that they'll end the series with some serious craziness. If nothing else, I need something to watch on Sundays because "Game of Thrones" is on hiatus until next May and that new "The Leftovers" show on HBO looks pretty "meh".
And I'm not even sure who I ship anymore. Bill? Eric? Alcide? I wasn't crazy about who Sookie ended up with in the books, and if the same thing happens on the show, I'll be surprised.
Everyone keeps telling me how awesome this movie is, so I actually plan on going to a theater to see it. I've stopped going to movies unless it's a serious nerdfest like "The Hobbit" or a Marvel release (hello "Guardians of the Galaxy" in August!) ... they just get so expensive, you know? The last movie I went to was at Canal Place and my husband and I spent fifty bucks on tickets and a glass of wine. I mean, what happened to good clean fun?
The Banh Mi
New Orleans has some pretty great banh mis ... also known as a "Vietnamese Po Boy", and apparently Taco Bell's parent company wants to see if the rest of the country would like them as much as we do ... except, it'll be made by the people that brought you the "Double Down". They're test-marketing in Dallas. Is nothing sacred? No? Alrighty then.
So, until they spread across the country like wildfire and Subway inevitably introduces their $5-dollar-foot-long Banh Mi deal, I'm going to continue enjoying the real thing around town.
Have you seen any "love signs" by your house? I have! And apparently they are everywhere.
I love it!
We still have many to look forward to. Running of the Bulls, White Linen Night, Dirty Linen Night, Red Dress Run, Satchmo Fest, and Southern Decadence. I'm also missing a lot of them ... needless to say, there's something going on pretty much every weekend. If you can brave the heat, you can get your party on. Over the past few years, Running of the Bulls (San Fermin in Nueva Orleans) has turned into my favorite, and the good things is, most of the action happens in the morning before the heat index goes up to 100 degrees.
And speaking of festivals ...
I love Prince. Prince will be at Essence Fest this year. I've never seen him live and he's one of the few artists left on my bucket list of shows I need to see before I leave this earth.
That's actually the look I gave my husband when he suggested we get out of town for 4th of July, thus missing Prince.
I know that New Orleans dislikes chains, but bouts of homesickness (which don't happen too often anymore) are usually quenched by a trip to a good old-fashioned restaurant where the food tastes exactly the same as it does in Ohio (or at any of their other 500 locations). You have no idea how much I rejoiced in Chipotle opening up.
Now, the Cheesecake Factory? People take that place seriously. The menu reads like a book and there are like, 50 cheesecakes to choose from. They really don't like that whole "less is more" philosophy over there, which actually makes it kind of fun. Every once in awhile.
It opened this week at Lakeside Mall.
After traveling in Mexico, I've made it back home to New Orleans, and as soon as I stepped off the plane and felt the familiar heavy mugginess in the air, I knew I was back home and damn, did it feel good. Even though I had an amazing time eating tacos and drinking mezcal, by the end, all I really wanted to do was sit in front of my TV, watch Game of Thrones, and eat pizza. Sort of like when I was in Italy, by the end, I was so tired of all the Italian food that all I wanted to do was go home and eat Taco Bell. It's horrible, I know.
But while in Mexico City, I had the privilege of attending MesaAmerica, which was this amazing culinary conference of "the Americas" where I got to see people like Mario Batali, Danny Bowien, Alice Waters and René Redzepi speak about food and the restaurant industry. Just listening to them talk was like, well ...
There were so many great discussions about inspiration and the love of food and cooking and every time Mario Batali said something cool like, when someone asked him about authenticity and he said "is it authentic? Who gives a f***! Does it taste good?" ... and I'm sitting in the back nodding my head like I'm in church and saying "AMEN!"
Unfortunately, I didn't see any New Orleans chefs there ... the people representing the USA to talk to the mainly Spanish-speaking audience were mostly from New York and L.A., but everyone I talked to was very interested to learn about the cuisine from our city. The first thing that came to their minds about Creole and Cajun food was that it was spicy, like their food, and they were pretty impressed by that.
Now that I'm home, and back in the kitchen, I've been working with a renewed sense of creativity and energy ... and the realization that I'm very content preparing food, chopping vegetables, putting together dishes. It seriously makes me happy. And even though working in a restaurant can be infuriating and stressful, it's also much more rewarding and just plain fun than any office job that I've trudged through.
Here are a few things I've learned working in a New Orleans restaurant:
1. Sometimes it's like being stranded in the middle of an ocean ... you can't drink the water. You're constantly surrounded by amazing food, but you're too busy to eat any of it. And even when you do get a few minutes to enjoy a meal, you're usually eating it while standing up, scarfing it down so you can get back to work.
2. There are really no such things as breaks. Lunch breaks are a thing of the past. Bathroom breaks are hurried. The only kind of break where you can really sit down for a few minutes is the cigarette break ... but if you don't smoke, you're kinda out of luck. I'm pretty sure that's why so many people smoke in the service industry ... so you can get a break.
3. You have the privilege of creating something that can bring a person pleasure of the senses. Several senses at once. Legally. It's pretty cool.
4. They say that the customer is always right ... but that's bullshit. I suppose they're right in that they usually get what they want, but chefs put together dishes and flavor combinations that when done right, result in a piece of art on a plate. The dish has been contemplated and perfected. When they're asked to omit a key ingredient or to substitute something, it can be a little disheartening.
5. After getting used to standing up for hours at a time with no breaks, it starts to become second nature. I can't sit down for too long anymore. Sometimes when I'm watching a movie at my house, I have to stand up in the middle of my living room. I watched the new Game of Thrones episode standing in front of my TV. It's totally weird.
6. Working in a kitchen will do a good job at curing you of any of your sensitivity issues, either that or you won't last. People yell when things get intense and you can't take it personally.
7. I used to spend all day in my own kitchen and loved it. Now I only go in there to get a diet 7-UP out of the fridge and grab a handful of tortilla chips for a quick dinner. It's so totally glamorous.
8. I've never laughed so hard at work. This is one of the reasons why I like being in a kitchen ... for some reason, most people who cook are hilarious.
9. I don't dread going to work ... and sometimes it's a respite from the other work that I do. Cooking is meditative and a lot of the time it doesn't allow for your mind to stew about all the other stressful things in life.
10. Restaurant co-workers make the best drinking buddies. They can hang. I need people like that in my life.