Sunday, November 4, 2012



“Kingfish, Kingfish
Friend of the working man
Kingfish, Kingfish
The Kingfish gonna save this land.”
               From “The Kingfish,” by Randy Newman, in memory of Huey Long

By Doc Lawrence

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA—It was a weekend of living dangerously. No time to watch waistlines, drink moderately or tone done the college football partisanship. Here, in the heartland of American tailgating, autumn Saturday’s are reserved for revelry. This has been the custom since right after the Civil War: Sausage with strange names like boudin and andouille are roasted on the grill and served one way or another on French bread, in gumbo or in red beans accompanied by beer, wine or cocktails. Toss in some live Zydeco music, and after a day of feasting and partying, you are ready for a little football.

Down here where the cultures truly blend into a melting pot, laissez les bon temps rouler is the prevailing social norm, and as Ray Charles sang in his song paraphasing the Cajun proclamation, “it makes no difference if your young are old, just let the good time roll.” Ray described the parking lots near Tiger Stadium, a facility built under the auspices of “The Kingfish,” Louisiana Governor Huey Long during the Great Depression, and the grills were sizzling, bottles of good and delicious things were open and music combined with laughter plus some added smoke  filled the air. Happy teenagers and proud grandparents were omnipresnt and if anything prevailed it was the overiding joy of  special moments.

A time for controlled excess. No time for restraint. This is Saturday and there is a game yet to be played. All are welcome here and I couldn’t help but marvel that the fans of Alabama were embraced by LSU supporters. A flute of Champagne with Tasso served on a biscuit; An Oyster Po’ Boy with Abita beer. A French bread sandwich loaded with Columbus Salami ( a winner!)

How deep is your love?

Strolling while eating and drinking through the gameday soiree, names like Thibadeaux, LeBlanc, Hebert and Peychaud were as prevalent as Smith, Johnson and Williams would be in South Carolina. This land is home to the great Holly Clegg, one of the most gifted cooks on the television screen anywhere. Not far away is the community where Chef John Folse keeps a culture alive with remakable books that chronicle the recipes and cooking traditions of Louisiana. The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute is one of the fastest growing programs at Nicholls State University in Louisiana.

Wine is a daily ritual for many LSU and Alabama fans. One stop at the Craig Broussard family tailgating enclave earned a few glasses of Inman Park Pinot Noir, a Russian River Valley release that found its French connections here near the Mississippi. It was the miracle catalyst to another signature Louisana dish with French ancestrey, grillades and grits.

The cultures here are multiple, reflecting much of America. Food in such abudance prepared in so many ways is a signpost, a key to origins. In the lots near Tiger Stadium, you need an emanuensus if you are noting for future study food origins. It’s  France, Italy, Spain, the Carribean, Mexico, Germany, Africa  Ireland, often fused into a very delicious Deep South style that in many ways influences American kitchens.

Tailgating has an important  place today. On this particular Saturday, there are so many dishes with so much variety that any fair minded observer would conclude that this is culinary heartland: The food of the people.

For about 10 hours, football took a back seat. The cooks in the parking lots made certain no one left hungry.

Enjoy all the fun at The Jack-2012:

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely fab. DOC. You make the food scene there on the tarmac in the oval parade come alive and the libations beckon. BTW....what's the score? M.Winner IFWTWA. V.P. and "ranger"