Somewhere in the awkward mess that we all agree to call my life, I decided I was meant to be Southern. I don’t have a drop of Southern blood in my veins, but ya’ll I want to be Southern. When I was younger, it wasn’t about the food*, or the hospitality. And as terrible as this sounds, I loved the idea of sitting on a pre-Civil War plantation fanning myself someone else fanning me while sitting on the porch drinking sweet tea.
You guys, I want to be Scarlett O’Hara. I will always and forever want to be Scarlett. I will never ever be Melanie.
I've been infatuated with Gone With the Wind since fourth grade. My love of GWTW has existed longer than my love of Harry Potter. Also, my goal of becoming Southern is much more attainable than becoming a wizard. What I'm saying is I've been slighlty obsessed. I went to Margarent Mitchell's house. I've walked around holding a hula hoop around my hips to see if I could handle wearing hoop skirts.
Since reading GWTW, my obsession with all things south of the Mason Dixon line has grown tenfold.
For most of my life, I so very badly wanted to go to New Orleans. I’d been to Atlanta, and it was definitely NOT the charming beacon of the South I expected** so my expectations for NOLA were low. I figured the food would be good, but it was post-Katrina (2006). I figured I would wander around the city eating amazing food and looking at homes that were built over 100 years ago.
I did neither.
Maybe I set my standards too high. Maybe New Orleans wasn’t back on its feet. Maybe the conference I was attending should have let us eat a meal outside of the hotel because banquet food is gross no matter where you are. Maybe I drank too much at night, and my taste buds weren’t awake after two hours of sleep. Really, who’s to say?
To this day, the best Cajun*** food I have had has been found outside of New Orleans. Take for example, my mom’s jambalaya. Until last year, she had never been to New Orleans, but she has been making this for years. I do believe she adapted it from none other than Paul Prudhomme, so it has some authenticity. If you’ve ever had jambalaya down South, you may notice that her’s is fairly loose, more like a soup. That’s how we like it, but if you like it thicker, cook the rice in the jambalaya. If you’ve only ordered jambalaya at a restaurant above the Mason Dixon line, chances are it was served over pasta. That is wrong. If my mom finds out you served her jambalaya over pasta she will hunt you down. Don’t risk it. Serve it over rice.