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Growing Pains: Foodie

Elizabeth Kukla

Elizabeth Kukla

Food is my favorite. Going out to eat is a favorite social activity, cooking a favorite hobbie, adventures to find new restaurants a favorite adventure.

An attribute of being a New Orleans girl, I suppose.

For Father's Day, I cooked my dad a spread of fresh local trout sautéed in first-press olive oil with herbs and grape tomatoes, a basmati rice medley, fresh cauliflower from the farmers market, salad with an 11-year-old balsamic vinaigrette, finished off with nicely chilled Pinot Grigio.

Did I mention that I'm a New Orleans girl?

Anyway, it was the first Father's Day I’ve gotten to celebrate with just my dad and me in probably a decade, and it was one of the best evenings ever -- right up there with singing Bennie and the Jets with my mom at Fat Harry’s (a story for another day).

Catching up on the people, places, and events that had occurred since our last visit invariably steered us into a conversation about food. By this time we had finished off the Pinot and started on the always faithful Penfolds. As I uncorked and let the next bottle breathe, my dad made an oh-so-true remark about New Orleans:

"New Orleans is the only city where you can go out for a meal with friends and, without fail, talk about: the meal you ate prior to this one, the meal you are currently eating, and what you plan on eating next."

Truth.

The more I think about it, the more I recall meals with other ex-pat New Orleanians and visitors. Two weeks ago found me at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond with a friend visiting from NOLA. She ordered some sort of shrimp, which, after judging it, prompted an entire conversation about who does shrimp the best back home.

Oh, and that got us on the subject of our last lunch together at Baie Rouge on Magazine Street, where I had shrimp and risotto, and they were serving Brie Pommes Frites.

Which then got us on the subject of a place in Baton Rouge we need to visit that serves duck fries (shoestring fries cooked in duck fat, aka liquid gold).

What we ate, what we’re eating, what we plan to eat. Just like that. Every time.

It’s probably one of the hardest things about not living in NOLA. I miss food, and I miss the culture that surrounds it.

I miss dinner being the evening, rather than it being the start to the evening. I miss lingering over a great meal to continue an interesting or engaging conversation. I miss our food culture.

So, what will I be doing nine days from today? I will be stepping off a plane at Louis Armstrong airport, getting in the car, and going out to dinner. Where I will talk about the last dinner I had in Virginia, whatever I decide to eat then, and the breakfast I plan to eat at Satsuma.

What I ate, what I’m eating, what I plan to eat. Just like that. Every time.

Shrimp and Risotto Milanese at Baie Rouge

Shrimp and Risotto Milanese at Baie Rouge

 

Native New Orleanian Elizabeth Kukla is a student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She writes about being a NOLA girl from afar in “Growing Pains,” a weekly column at NolaVie.