Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Impression: Food

One of the local (southern Louisiana) publications did an article on Blue Bell ice cream, the product of a local (Texas) creamery; and I had that ice cream today, shortly after noon: the brand's pralines flavor, which I liked. I had been thinking about pralines, a sugary candy made with pecans, that I had a lot of when I was a boy and I hadn't had it since I've been back and I had considered making some, so today's ice cream was a special treat. Some of the other things I had recalled from youth I have had: boudin, a sausage made with a meat and rice dressing traditionally stuffed into a casing made of pork intestine (I had it once, thought it tasted good, but remembered how it was made and thought it might be the last time I had it); hog cracklin' (pork skins), deliciously salty and also a bit oily; and popcorn balls, balls of popcorn held together with hot, carmelizing syrup. One aunt has shared her cooking on Sundays and that has included a good okra gumbo. My mother's cooking is much better than it was when I was young, though I do not like everything she cooks. She has made a good chicken stew, spicy, nearly sweet, and some green vegetable dishes that I've liked a lot. I have had barbecue only about three times, two restaurant purchases and one a church fair purchase, and only once was it very, very good. Maybe it is the season, autumn, but there seems less of it than I remembered. Some of the meals I have eaten have been remarkably good but some have also been very disappointing (a meal I had in New Orleans was disappointing; and also a couple of "po' boy" sandwiches I had here have been disappointing--they were not made to be filling, as they were when I was actually a boy and they were not particularly tasty, and it was funny to think that the franchise Subway makes sandwiches that are closer to what I remember than the local places). I myself have cooked several simple but well-seasoned pasta dishes, and also French toast, a favorite of mine that I have for breakfast on Sundays (my grandmother used to make French toast; and I had it as well in New York, sometimes for brunch or supper). Every once in a while I'll watch a television program on cooking, such as the Mario Batali/Gwyneth Paltrow show on traveling in Spain or one of the local public broadcasting food programs. Cooking is a necessity and an art and I find it fascinating. I know that I am limited by my budget, but, in general, the food here hasn't been as good as its reputation. (I think the people hired to cook in the past used to love to do it and were good at it! It wasn't just a job.) I hope I'll have more money in time so that I can do more exploring of a wider range of restaurants.