This soup is addictive: Tom Yum with noodles.

I know it’s blazing out there lately, but this soup is full of crunchy veggies and healthy chicken – and is ethereally light, compared to many hearty soups more suited for winter. This particular dish is what you get when you add noodles to traditional Thai Tom Yum Soup. The idea for it came to…

Waltz of the Souls

Growing up, I wrote poetry long before I wrote prose. I don’t do it so much any more, but every now and then something happening in the world at large, or at small, inspires me to write a poem. This one came because of the tentative joy I felt when I became a full citizen…

Home in Cornwallville

Cornwallville, New York is a hamlet founded around 1788 within the town of Durham in the Catskills region of the state. There’s no grocery store, no stop light, no cafe, and no church (the one it did have was dismantled and re-mantled as part of the Cooperstown Farmers Museum to provide their visitors with some…

What’s in Your Closet?

At Christmastime and birthdays, Gilda had a knack for picking the best games for her presents. If someone else had, by sheer luck, asked for a game that turned out to be amazing, she found a way to acquire it. Accordingly, she wound up as the proprietor of Monopoly, Masterpiece, The Thing Machine, Freight Factory,…

On the Subway: ‘Woiking Goil’

Yesterday on the A train I gallantly resisted the urge to snarl at a phone-addled bimbette who obliviously bounced her ugly bag in my face as I was trying to read. Clearly, my spot in the upper levels of heaven is now duly secured. The incident reminds me of a piece I first wrote about…

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…

It’s cher, y’all, not ‘sha’.

Even though French is the language associated with Louisiana’s Cajuns, many modern-day Cajuns (myself included) did not fully learn the language until they were exposed to it formally in junior high and/or high school. For me, it was in “Madame” Connie Larson’s French classes at Eunice High School where I finally learned how to read…

Cakeover: Watergate Cake – Redux

It’s been a full, lonnnng month since our last cake expedition. I got a lot of ooohs and ahhhs on my Louisiana Butter Pecan Cake in May. (You can get all the buttery, pecan-y lowdown here.) So it’s a new month and, as promised, it’s time we talked cake again. Specifically, another “Cakeover” of a…

Daddy’s Paper Bag Fries

Like most Cajun men, Daddy cooked. If I had to guess, I’d say barbecuing was his favorite way to demonstrate that. He never fired up his pit (a re-purposed 55-gallon oil drum) without planning to cook at least two meats, and most often, three or four: chicken, pork chops, steaks, andouille sausage were the most…

Mémère’s Swamp Cooler

Our Earth seems hotter these days than it was in my childhood in the ’60s and early ’70s. With a humming attic fan (which scared the hell out of my pre-teen self because it looked like it would be a perfect hiding place for a big “tie-tie,” the Cajun term for monster) and a little…

Happy Meal

Flashback: September 1994, McDonald’s, 1st Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets, Manhattan. The woman has straight, blue-black hair tied away from her face; it reaches the middle of her back. It is obvious from his own dark looks and by the way she handles him that the little boy closest to her is her child. Though they…

Don’t call me “foodie.”

It’s true: I love food (some of my best friends eat it) and love to cook (unless it’s done under duress), and love trying new restaurants, and new items at old restaurants, and all that jazz, but the term “foodie” irks me. I know it’s a handy shortcut of a description, but to me, it…

The People in the Book*

My memoir covers the late 1960s through mid-1970s and focuses on the siblings who are closest to my age: Gilda, Glenda, and Dickie, and me, of course (well, a memoir is like that). In between chores at our family’s motel, the four of us did a lot of game-playing, and for a few years, the…

This day is always hard.

Yesterday I was at our upstate supermarket in Cairo, New York, and there was Mother’s Day stuff everywhere. I told the lady at the register “Happy Mother’s Day if you’re a mom.” She said, “Yes, I am, and thank you.” I then told the bag boy to be good to his mom, because she won’t…

Louisiana Butter Pecan Cake

Standing on her feet all day at Eliza’s Beauty Shop in Eunice, Momma never had time for magazine-reading, but she sure did subscribe to a lot of periodicals for the ladies who sat in her hydraulic chair. She got Ladies’ Home Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, Women’s Day, McCall’s, Redbook, Reader’s Digest, and a few…