Friday, February 16, 2007

Gumbo Yaya

I took a course on making a New Orleans meal on Thursday evening. It was taught by a colleague -- the colleague I had a fierce confrontation with a couple of months back. Chefs run their operations by intimidation, and I have yet to work with one that did not cause me to start yelling and screaming back . . . well, there was one that I did not scream back to in Anniston, Alabama . . . but that is another story. So, yesterday's menu consisted of Shrimp Creole, File Gumbo, Blacked Peas and Rice Salad and Pralines. It was not bad, I knew a lot more about the culture than they did, but not as much as my cousins or grandmother. But they are chefs, and I am an aspiring historian (really). But it was nice to see cooking techniques in play, I do love to cook.

So, let's start with 15 questions (can't think of 20), a sort of Gumbo Yaya of my own:

1. Why did the woman sitting next to me in the class say she had never seen a Black Eyed Pea before?

2. Why did the woman next to her wonder what Okra was? Is it a squash? What does it taste like?

3. Why do New Yorkers treat Southerners like they are from a different country, and people from the Gulf Coast like they are from Jupiter?

4. Is it just me, or does all this Anna Nicole Smith stuff feel strangely like the Princess Diana car wreck? The media blitz storm, the obsession over the welfare of the children, the laundry list of lovers (though Anna baby, you beat out Princess Di by a yard of fabric at the Elk's Ball), and our inability to leave Anna Nicole alone even in death all ring true to me.

5. Is the fact that we still judge Anna Nicole as a freak due to her marriage and personal life, as opposed to Princess Diana who we considered a saint due to her marriage and personal life, the only reason we are not remorseful about our media obsession over her? Scratch that, I guess bringing attention to land mines in war torn countries is much different than being a televangelist for a weight loss placebo.

6. Does Dick Chenney have nine live? And, no 9 mechanical hearts does not count!

7. How long will this war last?

8. What about them Dixie Chicks? Was the album that good, or was it more about the inclusion of fallen angels into the constellations above the Mason Dixon line? I did like there song Not Ready To Make Nice and it was on VH-1's top 20 for weeks on end.

9. Why did it take the Grammy Award to force the issue of American regional culture onto the table without dredging up the Red State/Blue State paradigm (I apologize for that word "paradigm", I try to stay a way from it) which thwarts discussions?

10. Why are some of my favorite YouTube videos all of a sudden unavailable?

11. Why did a good friend of mine from England tell me once again: "We see why Iraq is the way it is because of the way you Americans are handling New Orleans"?

12. Why do people not see that American credibility has been eroding since the rejection of the Kyoto Accord, the Arthur Anderson meltdown and the Enron scandal? Iraq was just the watermellon on top of the Sunday.

13. Why have I not seen Dream Girls yet?

14. Did I miss something, Bounce is on the cover of Sports Illustrated? Was it difficult to keep that a top secret? My multi-media industry sources gave no hints.

15. Why do all the cool people in NYC seem to be 30 and over? Maybe it is because they remember NYC before its current incarnation?

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