My favorite things Louisiana

Ah, to be on the road again…  Most of my reporting from Louisiana will likely appear in another venue (links in due time); for now you must be content with these notes:

1. Favorite song: King Porter Stomp, by Jelly Roll Morton.  I didn’t think about this one much, though many Louis Armstrong songs are fair contenders.  To sort through music more generally would take hours.  In addition to jazz, Cajun music, zydeco, and "swamp pop," there is Jerry Lee Lewis, Leadbelly, Mahalia Jackson, Little Walter, Buddy Guy, Lucinda Williams, and yes Britney Spears.

2. Movie, set in: Southern Comfort remains underrated.  Interview with the Vampire was better than expected.  Water Boy has a few funny jokes.  There is also Streetcar Named Desire (not my thing), Big Easy, The Drowning Pool, The Apostle, and last but not least The Blob was filmed in Abbeville. 

3. Writer: I don’t much like Truman Capote, though I can see he was important at the time.  John Kennedy Toole is a good pick, don’t forget Kate Chopin, plus I will confess a weakness for the best of Anne Rice; Witching Hour and Lasher are my favorites.  Elmore Leonard rounds out a strong category, and I am likely forgetting some notables.

4. Artist: John James Audobon did some of his work in Louisiana, plus he was born in Haiti.  Does that count?  Clementine Hunter is one pick from the Naives.  Here is another picture by her.

5. Dish: Boudin blanc or peppered, boiled crayfish.  Overall I prefer the simple rural food to the New Orleans Creole style and its heavier roux-based sauces. 

6. Architecture: There are many wonders, try this typical and not even extraordinary house from the Garden District.

The bottom line: Riches await you here.


While O'Toole is a great pick, what's wrong with Ca[pte? Caveat: I've only read In Cold Blood, and that four or five years ago. But I don't see much room for complaint.

I've come to appreciate James Lee Burke as a writer. He seems to capture the rhythm and character of New Orleans and the bayou country, at least as New Orleans once was.

Here's some alternatives (with a New Orleans bias):

1) Skokian (Louis Armstrong)

2) "Panic In the Streets" (1950, Widmark and Palance) for a movie?

3) I'll second Anne Rice. I get bored by a lot of her work, but just the idea of Lestat is a bolt out of the blue.

4) How about Edgar Degas for artist (even though he was just on an extended visit)?

5) You want simple - how can red beans and rice possibly be so good when it is just ... red beans ... and rice (and a few things that everyone has in their kitchen, and just about none of them know how to use.).

6) Botinelli Place - off Canal St. just before City Park Ave. (an entire cul-de-sac built by an Italian immigrant who missed his home).


also: Page McConnell of Phish fame. and doesn't the marsalis tribe rate a plug?

Kate Chopin, died and lived most of her life in Saint Louis, should not be counted. It's enough that T.S. Elliot disowned Saint Louis. So please don't steal Ms. Chopin from us.

Jambalaya, boiled crawfish, crawfish pie, catfish acadian, etoufee, gumbo (seafood, or chicken & sausage), fried alligator, boudin, red beans & rice... let any other state say what they will, Louisiana is THE place to go for the finest American cuisine.

Wasn't the movie Angel Heart set in New Orleans?

Oh, and for movies, don't forget "Blaze", about one of our more... interesting... governors and his affair with the stripper Blaze Starr.

What's most distinctive, from a culinary perspective, about Louisiana is not what's best but what's ordinary. What other place in America would be dotted with drive-through daiquiri shacks (many of which are literally shacks, made of corrugated aluminum or whatnot), or have teenagers at the mall eating alligator on a stick as a normal snack, not a novelty?

On a side note, any suggestions on where to get decent boudin in DC, if it's available, would be appreciated.

Incidentally, for anyone travelling to the Land of Smiles (Thailand), good Cajun food is available in Bangkok at the Bourbon Street restuarant on Sukhumvit Road. I wasn't really impressed with the jambalaya, but the gumbo is good, the crab au gratin is excellent, and the crawfish bisque was delicious.

Also, it is about the only place in Bangkok where you can get real, American-style iced tea, for which I always go into withdrawal after the first week or so in-country.

LA baseball team:

C Bill Dickey (HOF)
1B Will Clark
2B Connie Ryan
3B Odell Hale
SS George Strickland
LF Albert Belle
CF Reggie Smith
RF Mel Ott (HOF)

SP Ted Lyons (HOF)
SP Vida Blue
SP Chuck Finley
SP Ron Guidry
SP Andy Pettite

Lee Smith, Norm Charlton, Eddie Fisher

Joe Adcock, Zeke Bonura, Tommy Harper, Rusty Staub

Manager: Eddie Dyer

Pretty good team. Three Hall-of-Famers, good outfield, catcher, and very deep at 1B. Pitching staff is probably the best state staff I've seen - three 200-game winners, two 150-game winners. And numerous 100-game winners left off the roster.

On the other hand, SS, 2B, and 3B are real weak.

Altogether, maybe the best state team.

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