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My Great American Road Trip – Louisiana

August 3, 2020

The Big Easy.

I once heard Eve Ensler, now known as V, and known for her landmark play The Vagina Monologues, describe New Orleans as America’s vagina – dark, mysterious, and everyone wants to go there. It was at a very swank party and the luminous  Kerry Washington turned to me with a perfect Olivia Pope eye role, but it is how I’ve thought of NOLA ever since.

My first trip to Louisiana, to New Orleans was in the late nineties with my mom, my sister, and my brother-in-law. My soon to be niece was there too, but we wouldn’t meet her for a few more months. We stayed in the famous Hotel Monteleone, with its carousel bar, we took tours of the cemeteries and the voodoo history, and a lazy boat ride down the mighty Mississippi.


My next trip down south was to celebrate the 10th anniversary of V-Day, the organization founded by Ensler and the occasion at which she unforgettably described the city. My dearest friend Susan was producing the weekend full of women’s empowerment activities. It was during that trip when I so unexpectedly fell a little bit in love with one of the lone men in attendance. Here’s the thing, if you fall in love that fast, it’s not real. And if he tells you he’s in love, he’s probably a sociopath. But it took me a while to figure that out, so at the time it felt like NOLA was working her black magic. And even more fun was walking down Bourbon Street with my friend Cathryn.


My most recent trip was a couple new year’s ago, when I wiped out any bad associations with the city (the bad beau long gone) and ate and drank and made merry with my friend Siobhan. We had the great good fortune of happening upon a Star Wars second line parade. And just like that NOLA’s black magic kicked in again. It is a truly great city!

I was so happy to finally reach Louisiana, on this journey. I love that state. And nothing is more iconic than gumbo. I am certain that there will be many detractors on my gumbo technique, but I did my best.

First you make a roux. All recipes begin this way in New Orleans. This particular roux substituted shortening for butter, and never got as brown as it should have. I think I should have used butter. Once the roux is medium brown, you add the holy trinity of southern cooking – onions, celery, and green bell peppers. It immediately smelled delicious. (everyone thought so).


To the veggies you add four cups of chicken stock, once that’s boiled, in goes a can of crushed tomatoes, some s&p and cayenne, thyme, and oregano. Next up, okra. Not my favorite, and I almost skipped it, but in for a penny, in for a pound. Let the whole thing simmer for about 20 minutes while you make rice. Then add in whatever you want for protein – chicken and andouille for me. 10 more minutes and you’re good to go.  Unknown-2.jpeg

I ate mine as I waited for Hurricane Isaias to hit. It did not, but the gumbo….that was YUMBO!

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