I had no idea what to expect when Grant said he wanted to have a New Orleans shindig. Nola is at the top of one of my must-see places in the world, and after Laura and Grant returned from their last trip, I’m dying to go even more. Laura and I watched Grant’s black-and-white video of a street performer doing a very spirited chicken dance over and over again, and I kind of wanted to be that girl with limbs that flapped around like a puppet. Laura said every corner was picture-worthy.
Grant used to live in New Orleans, and I knew the food would be awesome (because it always is, even when there is no theme). Cajun seasonings wafting from covered pots met us at the door. Jambalaya was on the stove beside the red beans and rice. Dozens of live crawdads made a shellfish mountain in a plastic bin outside. Then, mint juleps were passed around.
It was a wonderful evening with close friends who don’t see each other enough. We sat around the table, laughing and playing with crawdad claws and candle wax.
And in her house, surrounded by some of those closest to her, Laura was in our thoughts. One year ago today, she lost her battle to cancer. But sitting on her and Grant’s patio table with their lantern collection flickering and a table full of perfect Cajun fare, I imagine her being so happy that we all still do things like this, together. I did, however, imagine her yelling at Grant because he didn’t buy the hot tub sooner.
Let the feast begin.
Sometimes, you have to play with your food.
Val baked a tasty New Orleans favorite, the king cake. It’s flaky on top, but nice and moist with cream cheese in the middle, sort of like a cheese danish. Yum. King cakes traditionally have a tiny, plastic baby doll baked inside; whomever gets served the doll will have a year of good luck. Val couldn’t find a baby, but she did have Piglet. Even better luck, right?
We love you, Laura