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…

Eliza Mae

Today, May 4, 2019, is the 30th anniversary of Momma’s death. That reads like a lifetime ago, but it still feels so fresh. She birthed nine babies (I was the marvelous middle child); and ran a very successful beauty shop for ten years, and thank the universe for that because it was that beauty shop…

Mildred’s Biscuits

When she was in beauty school, and later, after she had opened her beauty shop on Vine Street in our home town of Eunice, Louisiana, Momma called on Mildred Williams quite often – to babysit us little ones, cook, clean, and do things that needed doing in the house. Some of us became so attached…

There’s gonna be a book!

Yep! After a lot of back and forth, it looks like my book, Stone Motel – Memoirs of a Cajun Boy, will be published in 2020. No firm date yet, but according to the University Press of Mississippi, the process (which just began in earnest in late April – after I submitted my final, revised…