In New Orleans..

Updated: Apr 17

I love New Orleans. I was born here, so that makes me lucky from the start. There is no other place I know of capable of creating such unique, breathtaking beauty out of stunningly shocking ugly. If that sentence sounds confusing, we enjoy that too. Be confused..

We love to be vaguely specific and specifically vague.


We pronounce words the way we want to here- we don't care how other people say it- we like the sound of it our way better. That's how we say it.

That's one of our expressions of creativity.

Also, maybe you'll underestimate us.

We like that too.

What's a 'neutral ground'? - it's a place where people can gather and trade goods with an understanding that you don't have conflict there. We pause all conflict so we can buy or trade goods with our enemies. Why? Because everybody needs things and even though it may be hard for outsiders to see it, at the end of the day we're a practical people- most of the time.


That word, 'neutral ground' comes from a long time ago, but we never embraced the new words that describe the big grassy space that separates the cars on major streets.. and those things you call "Trolley's", we call "Street Cars". Why? It's a car that runs on rails that aren't the train tracks. Train tracks run by the River.

Street Cars were installed on the streets so that's what we called them- even if some of them run on the neutral grounds-.

It's like Gumbo. We know what it is, but we can't tell you exactly what's in anybody's else's Gumbo.

I know how to make my Gumbo but I've probably never made it the same way twice. The idea of what I want it to be is all I know for sure.. the details depend on what I have, what I can get, and what looks good when I go to get it..

Same with Red Beans. There are basic guidelines- beyond that, who knows? We like to make it up as we go..


We don't follow recipes, we use them as guidelines; then we start creating. If you wanna know what you're gonna get, it's more important to know the personality of the person cooking.. that's a better indication of what the food's gonna taste like.

In New Orleans, food and music are partners, and the best writing happens in the kitchen with a slow pot of something on the stove.

Embrace it- Surprise yourself.

Learn something unexpected.

Make up your own words.

Start making that Gumbo

You can put whatever you want in your pot.


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© 2018 Leslie Blackshear Smith