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.) Get Out (but not yet) By DANIEL BURR STONE MOTELMemoirs of … Continue reading Review of STONE MOTEL in ‘G&L Review’
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 goes: On New Year’s Eve, the children put out a … Continue reading ‘Twas the night before New Year’s
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 brother would like a gun. My brother Morris would like … Continue reading Cassie’s Letter to Santa
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 like what you’d get if you cake-ified Ben & Jerry’s … Continue reading The Other Christmas Day Cake
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 of the fray – that’s how they keep their wits … Continue reading My Three Wishes
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 for poor families like theirs because it required only three … Continue reading Great Depression Bouillie au Lait
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 a “casserole.”) Usually held together with noodles of some sort, … Continue reading The Casserole Renaissance
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! They’re already getting my resume!); and reworked each of the … Continue reading Autumnal Optimism?
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 access. There are also several nice newspaper and magazine articles … Continue reading What Readers Are Saying About ‘Stone Motel’
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 are available pretty much anywhere. But there was one thing … Continue reading Ortense’s Gateau aux Figues
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 peppers). For the first few summers he’d produce entire mountain … Continue reading You Little Tart!
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 in a rental car. I had also managed to cram … Continue reading The DIY Audiobook: Recording at Home in a Pandemic. Ugggh.
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 main, I would pair it with steamed asparagus, sautéed Brussels … Continue reading That Dirty Cajun Rice Dressing Thing
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 picnic tables right out in the open. I was a … Continue reading Pépère’s Courtbouillon Chicot
Everybody’s baking on these long days during the pandemic. I’m no exception. I’ve been wanting to make another cake because I’m overdue for one, but I’ve also been craving my pépère (grandfather) DeJean’s catfish Courtbouillon (recipe coming soon to a blog post near you). This would then require me to bake my mémère’s Yeasty Rolls (and everybody knows you can’t have Courtbouillon without yeasty rolls)! Ask … Continue reading Mémère’s Cafeteria-Lady Yeasty Rolls