My friend Alex Rawls has a gripe about the Grammy’s:

... and seriously - is the only way New Orleans musicians can get on the Grammys is as Katrina victims? Lil Wayne had the top selling album of the year and won Grammys for "Lollipop" and "A Milli," but instead he performs the middling, Katrina-themed "Tie My Hands" as part of a medley with Allen Toussaint and the Dirty Dozen with Terence Blanchard. As it went on, the backdrop showed pictures of flooding, as if the waters just receded and we're still just drying out. We're not Jerry's Kids, and the implication that we're only of interest as the survivors of a catastrophe is really insulting. And if they're going to treat us as poor, wounded souls, show our actual damage as it exists today.

He’s right. Our food, our music, our culture is strong. It doesn’t need pity.

Last week I turned in a piece that didn’t once mention Katrina. Not so long ago, I couldn’t imagine a story that wouldn’t touch on the storm. That’s progress. Small progress, but progress.


I must get better at self-promotion. Last Friday, I had a story in the Times-Picayune testing the theories of Steven Shaw. In his book Asian Dining Rules, Shaw offers tips and strategies for getting a great meal at any Asian restaurant–including the humble buffet:

"Remember, " Shaw writes, "a buffet is a system in which the participants exercise a tremendous amount of self-determination. The most facile person at the buffet is going to get the best meal. That person should be you."

Yes, I would be that person. Today, the Panda King would bow to me.

This piece played poorly with the peanut gallery in the comments section. I was called a rambling writer, a wasteful diner, and a woman. Are there women named “Todd”?


I thought croup only afflicted characters in 19th century novels. Turns out it’s real. The boy taught me that. He’s had that distinctive barking cough (other parents will know it instantly) and raspy breath since Saturday. He’s also given up food, preferring to survive on milk and Graham crackers alone. This is not normal. My boy enjoys his food.

This morning, after Andrea and I worked out an elaborate plan that would allow me to teach at least one class today, he threw up twice. That meant I was staying home all day to watch him. I guess parents and undergrads are both destined to live in houses that always have a whiff of vomit.

Not being able to keep down milk seemed like a bad development, but our ever helpful pediatrician returned my call and assured me it was a good sign. He’s on the mend, the doctor said. And it’s true. His cough is gone.

At the moment, he’s happily tearing apart the pantry. By tomorrow he will probably be eating again.


Just to update you on the blizzard down here: we’re all safe, although I slipped slightly on the sidewalk, so be careful out there. There is also a trio of snowmen on the lawn in front of Newcomb Hall.


It’s snowing in New Orleans. The ground is getting white and everyone is snapping cell phone photos of it falling. Is this a sign that it’s time to get in the Christmas spirit?


Snap Judgment: Sex and the City (2008) directed by Michale Patrick King

In the four years since the HBO series ended, the ladies forgot how to act and the writers lost their wits. I enjoyed the series for the snappy patter. Each episode was a like a 1950s sitcom unrestrained by the Hays Code. But I came away from this cinematic disaster with a urge to see Ishtar and Gigli, so that I can figure out what really is the worst movie of all time.

Remarkably, a sequel is in the works. Just shows what I know.


For all those interested in Southern art, you can stay up with latest behind the scenes news from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art at Verso, their new blog.


Seventy-five years ago today, Utah signed the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition. By 7 p.m., FDR officially declared liquor legal and an hour later a shipment of whiskey arrived at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans.

Today in the Times-Picayune, I wrote about what happened in New Orleans during the nearly 14 years of Prohibition. While researching the article, I ran across this quote from a November, 1933 edition of the paper:

Musty old recipes are being hunted in attics and bureau drawers as skilled bartenders, casting off the derogatory prohibition titles of bootleggers, are preparing for a return of the days when correct drinking will again be among the fine arts and mixing drinks an abstruse science.

Already many of the old favorite cocktails are creeping in and while thousands of of New Orleanians are wondering “just when the repeal of prohibition will become effective,” other thousands are tickling their palates with famous drinks of the pre-Volstead era.

The straight liquor days of prohibition are waning in the opinion of most New Orleans restaurant owners and operators of more elaborate speakeasies.

The Sazerac, the Ramos fizz, the delicious Chicago cooler, the Sarninga bracer and the Widow’s Kiss were somewhat out of place when dry officials were lurking in the shadows and certified credentials were necessary for admission to most speakeasies--when a man didn’t have time to sip and enjoy a forbidden drink. But those days are no more.

Be sure to have a Sazerac or a Ramos Gin Fizz tonight. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly legal. Although judging by the online reactions to my story, the Anti-Saloon League still has adherents among the commenters at


The Chicago Tribute speculates further on who will take up the toque in Mr. Obama’s Whitehouse. Bayless, not surprisingly, is not interested.

Running the Whitehouse kitchen seems like a job best suited for an anonymous hotel chef. But in this era of culinary celebrities, could the Whitehouse job be a launching pad for a young, ambitious cook? And would the First Family permit a member of its staff to play the celebrity chef game?


My friend Sara Roahen worries that Mr. Obama’s rail thin form might indicate a lack of interest in food (That seems like an odd worry from a svelte lady with a voracious appetite.). The Daily News, though, reports that the Obama family prefers fresh vegetables and often dines out at Rick Bayless’ Topolobampo. That’s a good sign. The offers three suggestions on who will take over the Whitehouse kitchen: Bayless, Daniel Young and Oprah’s personal chef Art Smith

I do hope Obama passes on Smith. Oprah clearly loves her food, and stealing Smith might anger her. That’s like offending the gods. And anyone who’s read a Greek epic knows what happens when you piss off the gods at the start of your adventure.


The sun is shining bright in New Orleans. I assume it’s the same across American.

Yes, we can. Yes, we did. Yes, he did. Yes, we will.


Adequate,” you say? Let’s hope we never find out if Sara Palin is up to job of leading America. In case you need a visual, here’s a look into a future Palin administration.


I flipped on the radio this morning and heard Jacques Brel singing on NPR. Who knew that our local station plays a Radio France show at 5 a.m. each Sunday? Not me before today. This discovery is thanks to James and his complete lack of awareness that the clocks moved back last night.

To be fair, James isn’t good in general with telling time. He’s only 11 months old, after all.


Halloween continued well past sunrise in New Orleans. On the way to the farmers market this morning, I saw a few girls in disheveled costumes squinting on a bench outside Ms. Mae’s, the dirt-cheap 24-hour bar at the corner of Magazine and Napoleon. On St. Charles Avenue, a whole crowd was stumbling across the road. I couldn’t tell what they were supposed to be, because only a few pieces of their costume survived the night. Farther down the street, a pirate in a puffy shirt was passed out in a flower bed. He roused himself as we drove past.

At the market, it was all sunshine and fresh produce. James became the second member of the Marketeers Club (our friend Armor claimed the first slot). Not sure what the benefits are, but I told him it was good to get in on the ground floor of such organizations. Who knows, some day he might be king of the Marketeers (or perhaps president–we live in a democracy, after all). Many months ago, James’ first trip out of the house was a brief run to the farmers market. That ought to earn him an extra gold star among the ranks of Marketeers.


Sure, C. Ray Nagin has done his best to destroy New Orleans. But could he possible doom the entire country? Entirely possible:


My friend Jerry has just launched Groovescapes, an online music community. It revs up to full speed this weekend with Voodoo Fest. Check it out in a few days to see what he’s up to.