that time i ate boiled crawfish at capitol auto body shop

The title here is a bit misleading. I didn’t eat crawfish in an auto body shop, but did I try these shellfish at a client appreciation event in a tent area adjoining Capitol Auto Body Shop in Flowood, #Mississippi? You betcha. And gotta say, eating boiled crawfish is a messy business.

Crawfish boil Deep South

Source: Louisiana Sea Grant College Program via Flickr

Crawfish happen to be the state crustacean of Louisiana, and crawfish boils really get fired up in late February but also March and April. A proper crawfish boil involves a lot of crawfish, seasoning, onions, garlic, red potatoes, and ears of corn. To eat a crawfish, hold the head in one hand and the tail in the other hand. Twist and pull, peel off the shell layers, and you have the meat from the tail. You can also suck the juice from the head, but I skipped this part. Mike the Crawfish Peeling Machine offers an illustrated, step-by-step guide here. Bon temps!

tis the season (krewe)

Krewe season has almost arrived and you might be wondering (if you’re not from the South), qu’est ce que Krewe? It’s a private social club of members who sponsor a parade and festivities as part of Mardi Gras. Krewes and Mardi Gras are a pretty big deal in Louisiana, our westerly neighbor.

Krewe Mardi Gras New Orleans Louisiana

Source: Miguel Discart via Flickr

Krewes have their own distinct histories and themes. There are well-known Krewes (think Krewe de Bacchus) but also less familiar ones who know how to throw a great party. In the case of the Merry Antoinettes, a subkrewe of Krewedelusion, these ladies–garbed in 18th century costume–like to throw cake. (Sounds a bit messy but love this.)

If you’re planning a visit to New Orleans to revel in all things Mardi Gras, you can learn about these different clubs here.

 

poverty point world heritage site

Two weekends ago I climbed a 72-foot mound of dirt at the Poverty Point World Heritage Site nest Epps, Louisiana. Sounds pretty unremarkable, but it isn’t. It’s pretty. Pretty marvelous.

Poverty Point is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed around 1350 B.C., Poverty Point was a center of commerce, ceremony, and living quarters. Archeologists believe it took 5 million hours for native Americans to move and shape mounds of earth into sprawling concentric circles.

My senior year at Gustavus I took an Art Before Cortes class and became transfixed by the work of the Maya culture in present-day Mexico. Those stunning pyramids and ceremonial structures they created? Also by hand. No horses, no carts. The ingenuity to create these spaces is fairly mind boggling. In the case of Poverty Point, 5 million hours. That’s a lot of time. A lot of dirt.

What Poverty Point shares with Maya cultural centers is that it was abandoned, and scientists don’t know why. We can only visit and imagine what these sites meant to the people who worshipped there.

unlikely cousins: miss missy and la louisiane

I have a niece. She’s 4 and some change, and she can’t pronounce the state where I live. She calls it Miss Missy. I’m good with that. I haven’t asked her to pronounce the name of our neighboring state to the west, but I prefer La Louisiane. Beautiful, yes?

But I digress. Let’s get to it: The unlikely bond of Mississippi and Louisiana. They’re like two unlikely cousins at a wedding. Here’s a visual:

Source: Suong Photography via Flickr

Can you tell who is Mississippi and who is Louisiana? I totally can. Miss Missy is the lady on the left wearing a fuchsia top. Serious, prim. La Louisiane is the gentleman who’s ready to toss back his drink. Outgoing, social to his detriment, perhaps, and garrulous.

Mississippi and Louisiana are like two unlikely cousins. Related but so freaking different. I rented an Airbnb in the #Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans earlier this year to do some exploring and have dinner with my friend Brei Delahoussaye. I love New Orleans so much. I’d love to live there someday. It’s an exquisite city.

But again, I digress. I was walking around the Garden District, getting some shopping done. It was a Saturday afternoon, maybe 2 p.m. There were two older women walking ahead of me, or attempting to walk. They had open beers in hand. Talking loudly. They were tanked.

I don’t drink anymore. I got off the broomstick (gave up drinking) last September, and I’m totally at peace with the fact that I’ll never drink again. It made me feel so witchy (hence the broomstick analogy). But as a Mississippian by way of Chicago, I couldn’t help but guffaw at the two ladies in front of me with open containers. WTH. Then I remembered, New Orleans allows open containers. No big, as in deal.

That’s when it occurred to me how different Miss Missy and La Louisiane are, even though we’re neighbors. Cousins/les cousins. Mississippi is a state of counties, churches (predominantly Baptist), and teetotalers. Bible Belt stuff. Louisiana is a state of parishes, churches (some very beautiful Catholic ones), and bars. Don’t get me wrong. Louisiana is much more than bars and drinking. It’s just what struck me on that Saturday.