Happy Tuesday, and a very happy Mardi Gras to you all! Zelda’s Southern heritage comes steeped in Tabasco and chicory coffee, bred in the mud of the bayou, so she is particularly fond of this festive day. For the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday, her kitchen table back home is watched over by two straw crawfish, affectionately named Alphonse and Gaston, who hang from the light fixture like Cajun mistletoe. Some years her parents would have parties and the house would echo with saxophone strains from her grandpapa’s old speakers and the eager shouts of witches and mermaids and lions and clowns all jockeying for the most promising slice of King Cake. When the lucky winner bit into his or her slice to find the plastic baby, a coronation would immediately take place, complete with a sparkly crown and many reminders that the winner was now obligated to host next year’s shindig.
It’s a holiday about food and family and finding joy in everyday moments. Life in the bayou is hard, subject to the whims of nature and circumstance, but Mardi Gras reminds us to let loose every once in a while. So let’s raise a glass to family trees and French Quarter streets. Get yourself a steaming bowl of jambalaya and a melt-in-your-mouth praline, enjoy these thematic bits of inspiration, and laissez les bon temps rouler, y’all.
Art: “Thalassa,” Swoon (New Orleans Museum of Art, 2011)
Poem: “Going Home: New Orleans,” Sheryl St. Germain
Book: Zelda’s dad swears by De Bonnes Choses à Manger by Mrs. J. Berwick Duval of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana
(Also acceptable: Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen by Paul Prudhomme and Talk About Good! Le Livre de la Cuisine de Lafayette by the Junior League of Lafayette, Louisiana)
Song: We couldn’t pick one song this month, so instead we have a mini playlist filled with jazz, zydeco, and good times!
Video: “Formation,” Beyoncé
“I’m not going to lay down in words the lure of this place. Every great writer in the land, from Faulkner to Twain to Rice to Ford, has tried to do it and fallen short. It is impossible to capture the essence, tolerance, and spirit of south Louisiana in words and to try is to roll down a road of clichés, bouncing over beignets and beads and brass bands and it just is what it is.
It is home.”
— Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina