My Interview With Daniel Harrison on the New Books Network

Click to access my interview with Daniel Harrison on the paperback release of his new book LIVE AT JACKSON STATION. A great conversation about a fascinating book that will appeal to music historians, impresarios, fans of Southern literature, and anyone who likes a fast-paced tale about a notorious tragedy at a rambling blues club in…

New Review in ‘G&L Review’

Below is a NEW review from the GAY & LESBIAN REVIEW. The G&L Review is a big deal for us LGBTQ writers, so I’m quite thrilled. (One quibble: my sibs and I were paid for working in the motel – so we were not “free” labor as the writer says. ‘Cheap,’ yes, but not free.)…

‘Twas the night before New Year’s

Family customs, especially those based on folklore, are a lot like recipes – they change bit by bit over the years as they’re passed down. In my family Momma brought the New Year’s Eve custom of “Jabless” (pronounced “Jah-bless”) to us, as her mother, our mémère, had done for her children. Here’s how the Jabless custom…

Cassie’s Letter to Santa

Wendy G., a friend from my Eunice Sr. High School days, found this letter to Santa published in The Eunice News in December 1960: Dear Santa,I would like a big piano for Christmas and a doll. I’m in the third grade. I am doing very nicely too. My sisters would like a little bear. My…

The Other Christmas Day Cake

For years I have been imagining a cake that would be just the thing for Christmas Day. Well, you, my devoted Cakeover legion, are in luck! This weekend I broke down and finally started tinkering with a recipe – and the outcome, I am happy to report, is pretty much right on. This cake tastes…

My Three Wishes

Like so many people out there, I feel overwhelmed. I’m so sorry about the state of affairs in our big, baggy, but ultimately still lovable old country right now. In my marrow I know that we are so much better than all this ugliness. I get that some people are just more comfortable staying out…

Great Depression Bouillie au Lait

In our house in Eunice, Louisiana, in the 1960s and ’70s, bouillie au lait (milk custard) was a comfort food. We pronounced it “B-yo-ly,” and sometimes ate it for breakfast or as an after-school snack. In Momma’s childhood home in Ville Platte during the Great Depression, bouillie au lait was survival food. It was affordable…

The Casserole Renaissance

The 1970s ushered in the era of convenience foods – think “Hamburger Helper” and taco-making kits (“Just add your own ground beef!”). It was also the heyday of the casserole – a dish with a wide (and forgiving) interpretation involving the combination of protein, fat, and starch in a rectangular baking dish (funnily enough, called…

Autumnal Optimism?

This past Monday, Labor Day, I sat at my dining room table and laptopped my way through the jobs boards to find appropriate positions to bookmark for the week. Then I spent a few hours customizing my cover letters for those positions; filled in a couple of those same organizations’ very time-absorbent application forms (Uggh!…

What Readers Are Saying About ‘Stone Motel’

My book Stone Motel – Memoirs of a Cajun Boy has gotten some very nice comments from readers. These remarks were made on Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Facebook, and here on Parenthetically Speaking. (Some have been edited to exclude personal details of the writers, and/or for length.) I’ve compiled them here for easier…

Ortense’s Gateau aux Figues

In 1992 when I moved to New York from Louisiana I took my love of the food of my home state right into my East Village kitchen – where regularly I made jambalaya, étouffée, gumbo, fricassée, courtbouillon, and all the rest, like I’d never left Cajun Country. The key ingredients (or reasonable substitutes) for those dishes…

You Little Tart!

With ten mouths to feed, my daddy’s vegetable garden in Eunice, La. was an essential part of our family’s meal-plan. I remember those early years when he experimented with growing things – things that had a knack for producing an abundance of food – particularly tomatoes, eggplants, and zucchinis (not to mention cucumbers and bell…

The DIY Audiobook: Recording at Home in a Pandemic. Ugggh.

On April 15, the University Press of Mississippi released my new book “Stone Motel – Memoirs of a Cajun Boy.” To help launch it I had arranged a nearly three-week tour of Cajun Louisiana and New Orleans. The tour was to include appearances in bookstores, readings, book signings, media interviews, and a whole lot of travelling around…

That Dirty Cajun Rice Dressing Thing

Popeye’s calls this dish “Cajun Rice,” but I don’t know of any Cajuns who call it that. We either call it “Rice Dressing” or “Dirty Rice.” Whatever it’s called, it’s my absolute favorite side dish, and like many side dishes, it could easily serve as a main dish if you are so inclined. As a…

Pépère’s Courtbouillon Chicot

Chicot State Park near Ville Platte, Louisiana, a multifarious, 6,400-acre wildlife reserve, is the setting of one of my earliest cooking lessons. In addition to places to hike, swim, go fishing or boating, the park also features plenty of covered pavilions outfitted with big barbeque pits adjacent to them, as well as fire pits and…