With love from N’awlins, Looziana

22 May 2010

Dear Mr. Hallum,

All in all, you were a good 9th grade American history teacher. Your rolled up sleeves and goatee helped us lower our defenses. You tried hard to relate to students with high-fives and slang. When you got busted for getting drunk while chaperoning our junior prom, we all thought you were badass.

What I don’t understand is how you overlooked all the cool parts of US history in favor of defining things like bicameral legislature for months. How is it that I do not know what the whiskey rebellion was? What I find particularly egregious, after having lived in Montreal for six years and still not finding out about it, are your omissions when covering immigration. Perhaps it’s a New England thing, but the Irish in Boston does not constitute a comprehensive survey.

A suggestion: dig back to the French and Indian war, and teach the kids about another kind of Great Upheaval in which the Acadians of Canada were forcefully moved to present-day Louisiana. Sure it has much to do with Canadian history, but it established a new population in land that would eventually become the United States.

What’s more, they brought with them a strong culture, born in Quebec and the Maritime Provinces 400 years ago, that is still prevalent today in the Cajun community of Louisiana. Take the Bayou Bugaloo music festival, where I saw BeauSoleil sing in french about roux and étouffé, the zydeco descendant of the jigs and reels of a cabane à sucre.

More importantly, take restaurants like Cochon in New Orleans, where I was reminded at every turn of rural eastern Canada, only with much hotter weather. Like its northern environs, the pig is king here, but with a distinctively southern bent. The pork ribs here come just a little spicier than at Bowfinger in Montreal, but topped with sweet-sour watermelon pickle. They have boudin, too, but rather than a dark black blood sausage, it’s stuffed with pork, rice and spices. The fried hog head cheese was disturbingly creamy with a crunchy crust. My entree, “Louisiana chochon” was little more than pulled pork, fried again and served over pickled turnips and cabbage with cracklins.I still need to restrain myself from breaking into choruses of “Iko Iko.”

I know you’re a cocktail fan, Mr. Hallum. If you enjoy a french 75, I suggest you try Cochon’s version with champagne, spiced rum, sour mix and a couple dashes of Peychaud’s bitters. They call it The Bobby Hebert after the pro-football QB nicknamed “the Cajun Cannon.”

I think you have more enough material to use the Cajun case study to unpack the notion of American society as a melting pot (gumbo pot?). Get the kids to say the word “acadian” in a southern accent to show where we get “cajun” from. They’ll be hooked.

‘Vec amour de N’awlins, Looziana,

930 Tchoupitoulas Street


3 Responses to “With love from N’awlins, Looziana”

  1. Maggie said

    Ah, Cochon. My last trip to New Orleans was such a revelation that I’ve been counting down until I can return. Cochon is one of the things for which I count down. (Also, a more well-rounded approach to our country’s fair history.)

  2. Reading at Maggie’s recommendation- so glad I did. The things we didn’t learn in school are staggering. Love Nawlins!

  3. rafe said


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