Tag Archives: New Orleans

I Was Wondering When I’d Get this Question…

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m from Louisiana, I lived in NOLA for a while,  and I used to visit NOLA at least once a year. My best friend and I would go down every year for a long weekend of carousing, eating, and to catch a football game.

In No’ Chance, the first book in the Noah Chance Series, the ultimate battle takes place in New Orleans, one of my top three cities in the world. In that battle, one of the “bad guys” is wearing an Atlanta Falcons helmet.

I was recently asked if I chose the Atlanta Falcons at random, because they’re in the same division as the Saints or if there is another reason.

This is one of the few easy questions my readers ask and the answer is, I have been a New Orleans Saints fans for as long as there has been a New Orleans Saints Team. I remember watching parts of games in their first year of playing and then I’ve watched every year since then, even in the paper bag years.

I made one of the bad guys an Atlanta Falcons fan because you can’t be a Saints fan and not dislike the Falcons.  It’s nothing against the city of Atlanta, the Falcons could move somewhere else and I’d still root against them. I don’t shop at Home Depot since learning the owner, Arthur Blanks, also owns Home Depot.  I never liked Deion Sanders and while I can tolerate Julio Jones, I have no doubt his performance would increase if he was with another team.

So, yes, the bad guy was an Atlanta Falcons fan simply because they should never be permitted with the city limits of New Orleans.

I remember on one trip to NOLA where we met up with a contingent of Carolina Panthers fans and had a good time at the game and then afterward.  Of course, that was in the days before Cam Newton but still, overall, the Panthers fans are alright.

So to Falcons fans, I appreciate you buying my books and that shows excellent taste on your part and if you ever want to be a Saints fan you’re welcome to join the ranks.

And now, for the best commercial ever on the Saints-Falcons rivalry:


Oh yes and 28-3!

 

A Life Experience – Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday and Leaving New Orleans

Some of my earlier posts have been lost over the years (thanks to crappy security at GoDaddy hosting) and this one came to mind because 1) the family is all working on their bucket lists and 2) today is Ash Wednesday.

New Orleans, La. Mardi Gras Parade

When I go to book signings and conferences, the most common question I’m asked,  like most writers, is “Where do you get New Orleans, La. Mardi Gras Paradeyour ideas?” I always tell people it’s because of something I’ve seen or done somewhere which triggered the initial idea. In No’ Chance, the first book in the Noah Chance series, you’ll notice the heroes of the book end up in New Orleans, one of my favorite cities in the world. The places I talk about in the book are real, and to make it as authentic as possible I even try to get the addresses, directions, number of blocks, etc. all correct.

I lived in New Orleans when I was a kid and so Mardi Gras isn’t a new thing for me. However, several years ago Karren and I were invited to go back with some friends of ours (Thanks Jack and Denise!) .

As long as you don’t get claustrophobic in crowds and understand NOLA culture and people then everybody should do Mardi Gras in New Orleans at least once in their life.  There are a lot of places that celebrate it, Galveston and Jefferson, Tx.,

New Orleans, LA, Mardi Gras Indians. Look for them on Mardi Gras day or Super Sunday.

Mobile, Al., and Mamou, La. are several cities which come to mind, each with their own twist.

However, the most famous Mardi Gras is in the Crescent City and nobody does it like them. There are several different parades on different days, there are the Mardi Gras Indians in the Zulu Parade, and so many other things it’s impossible to cover them all.

This last time we wrapped up our trip on Fat Tuesday and watched the New Orleans Police come through and “clear the streets” at midnight, a time honored tradition, and left the next day on Ash Wednesday.

While leaving we took a couple of turns to try and avoid some traffic and ended up in the Treme District, the front vehicle following a “street funeral”. While it added a while onto the trip, my wife and I couldn’t miss this and so we watched the procession make its way down the street, with the Treme Brass Band playing music as they marched.  This was truly one for the bucket list.

If you don’t understand most of what I’ve talked about in this post, it’s because you’re not familiar with New Orleans and I’d suggest you read up a little and even watch the Treme series from HBO. Of course, I’d also suggest you give No’ Chance a read since there’s a lot of history and culture in there as well.

In the meantime, here’s a video showing them playing in the HBO series. The same song, the same band, in the same neighborhood. When I find the video I shot with my phone I’ll post it as well:

 

Another Poem Published, First You Make a Roux

Deep South Magazine has just published another of the poems from my work in progress collection, Always the Heat.

This poem is titled First You Make a Roux. It was inspired by a painting I bought some years ago on a trip to New Orleans with my best friend.

All good Louisiana cooking starts with a roux, and it's something I stessed to my kids when I started teaching them how to cook.

Look for the poem at http://deepsouthmag.com/2013/11/first-you-make-a-roux/ and I hope you like it.

Making a Roux

Setting the Atmosphere Through Food (and a Roast Beef Po-Boy Recipe)

As I've mentioned before, most writers pull off of their backgrounds when they set the atmosphere and tone of their books. Some do it by smells (who can forget the sour smell of Bourbon Street on a weekend morning), some do it by sounds (Ernest Gaines is great at this, conveying a sense of poverty by the creaking of worn out bed springs), and others are visual. I often do this by describing a food.

In No' Chance I referenced both the Lucky Dog hot dogs found throughout the French Quarter in New Orleans as well as po-boys served at Johnny's Po-boys there. This is probably a holdover from the family dinners we used to have out at my great grandmother's house in the small community of Bellwood, La. Ma and Pa Alford lived in the heart of the Kisatchie National Forest that became the setting for The Bottle Tree. We used to go there on Sundays and Ma would spend all morning cooking so that we'd have a huge lunch and the day revolved around that meal.

The recipe below is one that reminds me of New Orleans, the taste instantly sending me to the humidity, sights and smells of the Crescent City. This one is made the New Orleans way, dripping with "Debris Gravy". It's also great to make homemade french fries and use them in place of the meat to make the po-boy, but then covering them in the gravy. You have to remember, most of the New Orleans and Cajun foods (two different kinds) were developed because people were poor and had to make do with what they had. This one can be made from inexpensive ingredients but the taste is rich!

I started with a recipe from NOLACuisine.com and then made some changes to suit my family.

I hope you try and enjoy it.

 

Roast Beef Po’ Boy with Debris Gravy Recipe

For the Roast:

1 Beef Chuck Roast (app. 2 ½ pounds). Don’t trim the fat since it adds flavor.

2 Garlic Cloves thinly sliced

Kosher Salt & Black Pepper

Cayenne

Flour to coat roast

3 Tbsp Lard or Vegetable Oil

1 Medium Onion, Diced

1 Medium to Large Carrot, Diced (I prefer to shred it using a cheese grater)

1 tablespoon finely Chopped Garlic

1 Cup Beef Stock

1 Cup Chicken Stock

Water if necessary

2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 Tbsp Hot Sauce

2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme (you can use dried if you don’t have fresh)

1 Bay Leaf  (fresh or dried)

Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste

 

Cut small slits into the roast, about every 3 inches, try not to pierce all the way to the bottom. Stuff the sliced garlic into the slits.

Season the Roast very liberally on all sides with the Salt & Black Pepper, season with Cayenne to your taste, I don’t use much.

Coat the roast in flour. You want enough to form a light crust when you brown it in the oil. This step will make the gravy just a tad thicker.

Heat the fat in a heavy bottomed Dutch Oven over high heat, when the oil starts to smoke, wait a few more seconds, then carefully add the Roast cut side down. Brown very well on all sides, without burning it. Remove to a plate.

Drain off all but 1 Tbsp of the fat in the pan, add the onions and carrots, cook until just before the onions start to brown, add the garlic (be carefult not to burn the garlic) then place the roast back in the pan, then add the stocks. Finish, if necessary, with enough water to bring the cooking liquid 3/4 of the way up the roast. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then back down to a very low simmer. Simmer covered for 3-4 hours or until the meat falls apart when you look at it (you know what I mean, very tender).

For the Debris Gravy:

Carve the meat into very thin slices, it will be hard to do and will fall apart, that is good. All of the bits and pieces, that fall off are your Debris (pronounced Duh-bree.)

Add all of the bits and chunks to you cooking liquid after skimming off the fat from the surface, keep the carved meat with a little liquid on a warm plate, covered tightly with plastic wrap.

Bring the gravy to a full boil and reduce until it coats the back of a spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Our family adds all of the meat back to the gravy when it has reduced and lets it sit there for a while to moisten the meat.

  

For the Po’ Boy:

New Orleans Style French Bread  (we found out that if you can’t get the good, crusty French bread to make this then you can use the canned Pillsbury Crusty French Bread and it is surprisingly good)

Cut the bread 3/4 of the way through so that the bread folds open as opposed to slicing it all the way through. If you slice it through the sandwich will fall apart. If you are using fresh baked bread wait for it to cool before slicing.

Shredded Lettuce

Mayonnaise

Roast Beef (see above)

Debris Gravy

 

Slather the bread with a very generous portion of Mayonnaise on the inside of the upper and lower halves. Place about a cup of Shredded Lettuce on the bottom half. Cover the lettuce with a generous portion of the “sliced” Beef. Drown the beef with Debris Gravy.

 This recipe will make 4 big Po Boys.