From the still bayous to the red clay farms of Louisiana, from the end of the Mississippi River to the nearby edge of Texas, down in New Orleans and up to Shreveport- the south is undeniably.. a paradise.
Not for its obsession of Chick-fil-A or football, nor for it’s love of the onslaught of innocent animals, but for its simplicity of life in the sweet state of Louisiana.
After a weeks worth of time in the two polar cities, the south had confirmed what I already knew, that I am and always will be, a city girl.
But in retrospect, I am thankful to have gotten so far away from all the noise of New York.
Shreveport was the city to wake up to. Late October rain fell throughout the neighborhoods in ready preparation for the town’s upcoming Halloween festivities. Overnight you somehow knew that the deer were traveling back to their nests and the other furry critters were curled up in a hole somewhere. An early morning sunlight broke through whatever clouds were left over and exposed the precipitation hanging onto splinters of grass. The roads were long, the streets were empty and all the lifted trucks slept through the night before rattling their engines again in the morning. It was a place for comfort.
What I learned in Shreveport was the importance, and necessity, of valuing your family. And in this particular experience, the bigger the better. Nothing was better than spending time with your loved ones in an intimate setting… even if it was at an ax throwing bar… or Deja Vu. Nonetheless, the four-generation of the Figueroa bloodline was enough entertainment already.
In the Big Easy however, I died and resurrected again night after night thanks to Bourbon Street. When in Louisiana, you must do as the Louisianians do and that is drink copious amount of daiquiris until you see your shrimp and grits regurgitated in the bathroom. But one must go on if you were to go to the Superdome the next day, which we did. As on honorary Saints fan for 2.5 hours, I lost myself in the creole accent and you know I had to yell WHO DAT with the lady sitting next to me.
I was there for a good time, not a long time.
And if it was anything these ragin’ Cajuns knew, it was how to properly deep fry a gator. It was a blessing to taste food from where it originated. Nothing was better than the stuffed catfish and charbroiled oysters. A cup of jambalaya, a crawfish pie, a crab cake here and there washed down with a light beer of your choice- that was my paradise. I would go back to Louisiana just for the food.
In my mind, an image of a tomato lives so loudly and vividly. I saw it painted on a square ceramic tile in a gift shop outside of the French Quarter. I stared at the image of the red little vegetable and its green leave stemming from its navel. I wanted it, I wanted to hang it up on my kitchen with the other hand painted tiles I’ve collected from Barcelona, Solvang and Olvera Street. I wanted it for inspiration to cook new meals and use the fruit introduced by my ancestors. The ‘creole tomato’ the only souvenir I wanted from New Orleans besides a beignet from Cafe Du Monde, the souvenir I never bought- now grows in my head rooting for my return.