Tag Archives: shrimp

New Orleans Restaurant Guide for AAA

Shrimp Po-Boy. Eat gulf seafood while you are here!

 

The annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in New Orleans is less than 3 weeks away.  The wise folks at the AAA asked me to put together a list of recommended restaurants, which they have now posted on their web site.  Check it out and start thinking of all the great things you will eat.  If you need reservations, it can’t hurt to make them soon.  Eat local while you are here, avoid chains and you should be rewarded with some great meals.  The restaurateurs in New Orleans say that people come here for the music and leave talking about dinner.  They are right.

I should add that there are now approximately 1,117 restaurants in the New Orleans area, according to veteran New Orleans food writer Tom Fitzmorris’ daily count (this is as of November 3, 2010).  His count, by the way, does not include fast food chains or gas stations that serve convenience food, pharmacies, or anything other than what he calls “restaurants that matter.”  He does include neighborhood sandwich shops and some grocery stores, because, in New Orleans, they matter.  My list is, in any case, shorter and only includes restaurants that you can reasonably get to on foot, streetcar or cheap cab ride from the conference hotel.  Also, I only included restaurants I know enough about to recommend.  There are many others and they may be good too.

There is one other thing that I think might be of use to those attending the conference: a bar guide.  New Orleans is famous for drinking—some even claim that the cocktail was invented here (a claim that I have heard is demonstrably false, but they go on claiming it anyhow, probably because it seems reasonable when you are in a French Quarter bar).  There are many wonderful bars in the vicinity of the conference hotel.  You can get your drink to-go (in what we call a “go cup”) in most bars in the French Quarter, so feel free to stroll around with it (the Sheraton is next to, but not in the Quarter).  Note, however, that if you get one of those big colorful drinks in a boot or other odd looking contraption, we will know you are from out of town.  Rather than put together my own list of bars, here are links to two guides that I think are trustworthy, one from Gambit, a local weekly, the other from the Times-Picayune.  We have wonderful local beers, great classic cocktails (the Sazerac, the Ramos Gin Fizz, which really were invented here) and a bunch of very creative bartenders making new drinks all the time.  And you can walk to all of this…and stumble back, if necessary.

Welcome to New Orleans!

posted by David Beriss

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Filed under AAA 2010 New Orleans, anthropology

Shrimps and Earl

Shrimps in earl, photo by David Beriss

Watching the BP Oil Spew slowly unfold, I started to wonder about our relationship to food and oil (“earl” if you tawk rite) here in south Louisiana.  Food activists have observed that Americans are increasingly detached from the sources of their food.  The people who produce seafood, meat and vegetables are invisible in the supermarket and the packaged products show no trace of work or human hands. Of course, this is largely true here too.

Except for seafood.  As I mentioned in my last note, our seafood is usually from around here, fresh, affordable and recognizable.  People in south Louisiana often fish for themselves or, if they don’t, they get fish from neighbors and friends who do.  And it is damn good.  Sometimes we buy our shrimp at the grocery store, but we also get it from the shrimper directly, parked on the side of the road, with an ice chest in the back of a pickup truck.  Or at the shrimp lot in Westwego, a town on the West Bank of the Mississippi, in the suburbs of New Orleans where shrimpers gather with their trucks.  This is also true of crabs and other fish.  We know the people who catch our seafood personally.  When my students read Paul Durrenberger’s excellent book “Gulf Coast Soundings,” about shrimpers, they add their own insights, because many of them have family in the business.

I thought about this as I was driving to work this morning.  I thought that maybe this was why we felt violated by the oil industry and its apparent disregard for safety and the environment.  Or why we are angry at the government for giving up on regulating industries.

But then I thought something else.  For most Americans, oil is also a mysterious product that appears, out of nowhere, in the form of gasoline, conveniently available for their cars.  It comes from foreigners.  Which is true, but not the whole truth.  Oil comes from the Gulf of Mexico.  It is explored and extracted by people…who are our neighbors and friends.  We all know people who work offshore, on the rigs like the one that exploded, as well as geologists, engineers and others who work in the industry.  Full disclosure: a couple years ago, my wife worked briefly as a computer consultant at Shell, which maintains a very large presence in New Orleans.  Shell sponsors our famous Jazz and Heritage Festival (“presented by Shell”).  The oil industry employs thousands of people here, probably just as many as the seafood industry.  Some people work in both industries.  It is one of the main sources of tax revenue for the state of Louisiana, a fact that makes those of us working in public higher education depressingly dependent on the price of oil for our budgets.

One of the more amazing festivals in Louisiana is the annual Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival, in Morgan City.  This appetizingly named event has been going on for the last 75 years and, as the web site states, “The festival also emphasizes the unique way in which these two seemingly different industries work hand-in-hand culturally and environmentally in this area of the ‘Cajun Coast.'”

An observation that ought to make you think about some of the oppositions we have been using to frame this spill.

The oil industry is clearly responsible for a great deal of the environmental destruction we face along the Gulf Coast.  At a distance, it may seem simple to criticize this giant industry for its destruction of our otherwise wonderful way of life…except that we are them.  We don’t just buy their products.  We work at making them.  Even those of us who don’t work in the oil industry directly are dependent on their revenues.  We have chosen to build our economy around the kind of industry that can and has destroyed our environment and culture.   We have given the industry an enormous amount of support.  Maybe we have allowed ourselves to be sold a bill of goods by our (suddenly very pro-environment) leaders.  But we should not forget that we picked these people to lead us.  Their way is not the only way, a fact that we have not yet learned here in Louisiana.

Oil and shrimp.  Louisiana—and the whole Gulf Coast—needs to look in the mirror.  This disaster is personal in a lot of ways that may make us uncomfortable.  Getting BP to pay for this is a great idea.  But untangling oil and seafood in our economy and in our culture will be a far greater challenge.  And the subject of another blog posting.

Posted by David Beriss

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Filed under disaster, economics, sustainability, Uncategorized