Yesterday I was listening to a cute Hispanic guy reading from Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, the part describing their first entry into New Orleans. It was such a vivid description that it made me homesick for Louisiana this time of year – the air soft with humidity, and the wild jasmine that grows so thick and so fragrant you can smell it even doing 60 down the highway. The flowers are so beautiful – the azaleas making huge masses of bloom, the camellias that drop their fat flowers on the grass, and the huge magnolia trees with their plate sized blossoms hanging like stars far above your head. I miss the live oaks, with their limbs that droop so gracefully to the ground, and the resurrection moss that springs up like fur all along the branches after a rain.
I miss the people, in their flat houses without basements, who would give you the shirt off their backs and insist that you were doing them a favor. I miss the food – the jambalaya cooked in huge kettles over propane rings back behind the parish center by the men of the K of C, and everything seasoned with Tony Cachere’s Seasoning. I miss the crawfish boils – the little crustaceans that look like miniature lobsters, boiled outside in huge pots of intense broths of seasoning and lemon, with corn on the cob and andouille sausage, then drained and poured out onto tables covered with newspaper. You sit down to heaped mountains of bright red little shellfish, and pull them apart to eat the tails, and sometimes meat from an especially large claw, and – if you are brave – suck the juice from the heads. You eat until your mouth burns with the spices, then eat a little potato salad to tamp down the heat, and then eat some more.
Someday I’ll make it back there.