September Hurricanes, then & now

It’s mid-September, 2018. Florence, Issac, Helene, and possibly Joyce are dancing around in the Atlantic. Just last week, Gordon blew ashore over Pascagoula and Mobile. One other stray concept – mentioned in an earlier entry – is that our TriCentennial can legitimately be placed any where between 1717 and 1722.

So lets review our “first time”. By 1722, our little hamlet consisted of maybe a few dozen huts and two or three “buildings” that is stores and officer’s quarters, etc. On Sept. 11th or 28th, the cyclone hit. (reminder, during this time frame, France and England – and their colonies – were on opposite sides of the Julian vs. Gregorian calendar “conflict”).

“The wind raged for fifteen hours, and destroyed the huts serving as church and rectory; at the hospital, a few patients were injured.

Bayou St. John rose three feet, the Mississippi rose nearly eight feet, and the powder was just saved in time by being transferred to a dove-cote “which M. le Commandant had built so as to afford himself a few luxuries.”

This “disaster,” did not disturb La Tour (the engineer sent to build the new capital) to any great degree. “All these buildings,” he says, “were temporary and old, not a single one was in the alignment of the new town, and they were to have been pulled down. Little harm would have been done, if only we had had shelters for everybody.”

The damage caused by the hurricane — thirty-four huts destroyed . . .

Nevertheless, the hurricane had some disastrous consequences. The entire flotilla of the capital was put out of commission; the Santo-Christo and the Neptune, ships of twelve cannon each, went aground; the passage-boat Abeille, which had arrived in August, 1721, and Le Cher foundered in the Mississippi, the Aventurier was more fortunate; it had raised anchor a few hours before the cyclone bore down, and was able to resume its voyage after getting some repairs. . . .

Many flat boats, notably the Postilion, belonging to the Sieur Dumanoir, and a number of pirogues, sank with their loads of grain and fowls and other produce. Then a month of torrential rainfalls destroyed the last crops and reduced the new city to a state of famine. Next year, the price of eggs rose” . . . to ridiculous levels. 1723 was indeed one of those years of “starvation and woe”. But it got better.

http://www2.latech.edu/~bmagee/louisiana_anthology/texts/de_villiers/de_villiers–new_orleans_founding.html Accessed 9/10/2018

In our times, we have heard much about the resilience of the citizens of the Gulf Coast. No doubt in the next few weeks we will hear about the resilience of the folks in the Carolinas. In fact, if I hear about resilience or “dodging the bullet” much more I may lose it all one day. Let’s face it, if one chooses to live on the coast from Chesapeake Bay to the mouth of the Rio Grande and beyond, resilience is only a small part of the equation. We choose to live here for the quality of life, the climate (before it changes too much), and don’t forget the seafood😀

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If you believe that POTUS should be replaced, WEAR PLAID !

If you believe that POTUS should be replaced, WEAR PLAID !

The undrained swamp is just getting silly now. VOTE VOTE VOTE ON NOV. 6.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Attributed to Edmund Burke, including by John F Kennedy in a speech in 1961. Burke didn’t say it, and its earliest form was by John Stuart Mill, who said in 1867: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” Thanks to Andrew Marshall.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/the-top-10-misattributed-quotations-a7910361.html accessed 9/8/18.

Those that do not remember the past are condemned to relive it. -Santayana

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Another Tropical Storm

So, here we go again. A few weeks ago, as I was working my day job, cashier-small gas station/convenience store in the exurbs of New Orleans, some travelers stopped in to ask directions. As usual my intentional Yat accent clued them in that I was from the Big Easy. So one asked, “Why did you leave New Orleans?” Truthfully and succinctly, I replied, “I got tired of running away from hurricanes!”

Luckily, I (or rather we – my lovely wife, the better half of we) did not have to run far. We are only an hour away from our beloved hometown, and live the country life we dreamed of for many years. But now – without running away – we have to sit and watch the latest storm to go by.

So what do writers and historians do while the storm passes? Well, after getting all the usual preparations in place, this writer and historian can pursue the ultimate dream. I sit here and read history and write history.

Quite accidentally, I made groceries this weekend, so we don’t have to worry about food supplies. After three years at our new home, we were finally able to set up the connection between the portable generator and our home water system. So – food, water, reasonable safe shelter, I get to WORK ON MY BOOK !

One positive thought about watching a storm go by – Nota Bene: A PASSING STORM – not one passing over your house, is that these storms usually foreshadow the coming of fall on the Gulf Coast. and if you do not or no longer live here, THIS IS A BIG DEAL !!!

Be careful, and back atcha later.

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WAITING . . . WAITING . . . WAITING

I have never been good at waiting. Now, in last few weeks of a typically HOT Louisiana summer, I find myself w-a-i-t-i-n-g.

Waiting for the hot weather to break. Waiting for the holiday season. Waiting for the plumber (or rather waiting for. the $$$$$ to pay a plumber), and most of all – WAITING TO HEAR FROM A PUBLISHER !!!

Yes, dear readers, Part II of The Petticoat Rebellion is being reviewed by a publishing house. it has been there now for 2 months. This house’s submission guidelines clearly states that their review process takes up to twelve weeks to complete. So I figure, since they have had my book for 8 weeks now, I am either being completely ignored, or being moved through their review process with some hope of being accepted.

Got that, SOME HOPE OF BEING ACCEPTED !!!!!!!!!

So now I wait. And while I wait, I figured I would share the fantasy of waiting with you. First, you must understand, I am a huge fan of TCM, the classic – and not so classic – movie channel. I love old movies, and I love many new movies too. I have always thought that life ought to be more like the movies. And I have always hoped that at least once in my life, the movie miracle would happen to me. You know, the one in which, after half the movie is over, after all the struggle and disappointment, the actress/actor/singer/writer/artist/whomever is in the right place at the right time and gets the big break. She or he then dances across the stage to thunderous applause, hugs and kisses their partner, and the pair walks, rides, or sails off into the sunset, etc. etc.

So anyway, here’s what’s going to happen to me. The book is accepted for publication – months of rewrites, edits, test recipes ensue – I work my tail off giving presentations, talking at conferences, signing at bookstores. Of course, all of these activities are supported by a generous advance from the publisher, enabling me to work on the next volume in the series, make the necessary travel and speeches, revise and maintain my website, keep blogging, and in general live happily ever after.

Without a doubt, these are the dreams of every artist. I wish the same for all my readers no matter whatever their endeavors may be. Meanwhile, we wait.

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Exactly, when ?

So, the tourist asks, “Exactly when was New Orleans founded?” Ah!, like everything else in New Orleans the date can be very easy going. We are the Big Easy, after all – and have been since the early 18th century! Most folks, including the city fathers/mothers (parents?), will come down on the exact date of >>wait for it<<- Spring, 1718 – most satisfying don’t you think?

So let’s look in the history books and see what we can find. . .

The following information and quotes are taken from:

de Villiers, Baron Marc. (Tr. Warrington Dawson) A History of the Foundation of New Orleans (1717 – 1722). The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 2, April 1920.

http://www2.latech.edu/~bmagee/louisiana_anthology/texts/de_villiers/de_villiers–new_orleans_founding.html Accessed 7/24/2018, and many other times earlier.

I have never yet been able to see any further research that goes beyond this thorough examination of the original sources to ascertain dates relevant to the founding of our hometown.

Exactly when . . .

“So the date for the foundation of New Orleans may be fixed at pleasure anywhere between the spring of 1717 and the month of June, 1722, when Le Blond de La Tour, the Engineer-in-Chief, compelled to go and visit the site of the capital, had no choice but to ratify purely and simply the plan drawn up a year before by Adrien de Pauger.”

“It is an incontestable fact that on the first of October, 1717, The Marine Board appointed Bonnard store-keeper and cashier . . . at the counter which is to be established at New Orleans, on the St. Louis River.” (Colonies, B42bis.fol.180)

“On the 31st of December following, M. d’Ayril, . . . was named Major at the new post.” (Ibid.)

further entries in the records show

“Resolved to establish, thirty leagues up the river, a burg which should be called New Orleans, where landing would be possible from either the river or Lake Pontchartrain.”

The decrees which follow prescribe the establishing of a burg at Natchez, and of forts in Illinois and among the Natchitoches.

Bienville writes, 10th of June, 1718: “We are working on New Orleans with such diligence as the dearth of workmen will allow. I myself went to the spot, to choose the best site. I remained for ten days, to hurry on the work, and was grieved to see so few people engaged on a task which required at least a hundred times the number. . . . All the ground of the site, except the borders which are drowned by floods, is very good, and everything will grow there.”

The date for the first work done on New Orleans lies, then, between the 15th of March and the 15th of April, 1718. But in spite of Bienville’s efforts, and owing to hostility from “the Maubilians,” the buildings made but slow progress. Le Gac was justified in writing in his Mémoire sur la situation de la Louisiane le 25 août 1718: “New Orleans is being scarcely more than shaped.” (Bibl. de l’Institut, Mss. 487, fol. 509.)

Last and probably least, the 2018 edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac (out of New England , of all places) gives “New Orleans, La. founded, 1718” on August 25 in their Calendar pages, p. 159. Maybe the Yankees in New Hampshire didn’t hear about it till then🤪.

A coincidence maybe, wasn’t Katrina in the gulf in late August, 2005? The 29th as I remember. While we are remembering hurricanes don’t forget Sept.11, 1722. Three months after the last possible “founding” date, June, 1722, New Orleans was completely destroyed by it’s first hurricane.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose !

One More Time>>>>>

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Thoughts upon the Completion of a Book

The Petticoat Rebellion; A Culinary History of French Colonial Louisiana (Parts I and II) is complete.

Complete and finished, though, are two distinctly different states of being. A huge chunk of my life is now wrapped up. The final phases of this magnum opus are now in the hands of a publisher. Their response will determine the course of the upcoming years. If accepted, there will certainly be months ahead of revisions, rewrites, and negotiations – both literary and fiduciary. If not accepted, months ahead will include a few more submissions, and/or preparing the work for the self publishing process. Whichever way this turns out, I – as the saying goes – have my work cut out for me.

The excitement, the fear, the hope, the prayers, the mood swings, now dominate my thoughts. I must press on, however, with the completion of the recipes, the illustrations, and the thoughts of the next project. Will there be a Part III (the Spanish colonial era) ? Should I turn my attention to Governor Vaudreuil, a popular biography? What about the 1718 website? Take it down? Modify it? Come to think on it, New Orleans wasn’t built in a day. it wasn’t until 1722 that the city became the capital. Or until the mid-1720’s that it took on any shape resembling a city.

Or should I just blow the whole thing off for a couple of weeks and work in the garden? In any event, thanks are once again in order. Whether anybody is reading this blog or not. having the ability to publicly think out loud about these things is a blessing in itself. So, to whoever is out there, Thanks Again.

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TriCentennial Transitions

Since retiring from teaching in 2010, my life has generally focused on researching and writing The Petticoat Rebellion in anticipation of the 2018 Tricentennial. Now that the Tricentennial is halfway over and THE BOOK IS FINISHED !!!!!!!, I have to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

Presently, that is, the 4th of July, 2018, the last eight years of my life, The Petticoat Rebellion: A Culinary History of French Colonial Louisiana, Parts I and II is in the hands of an actual real book publisher ! I still can’t believe it. After one rejection, a second query letter resulted in a request for Part I and a bit more info. That request was soon followed by another for the entire manuscript !!!!! Taken completely by surprise, and still having 2 chapters to wrap up, my family (all writers) and I spent the entire month of June scrambling to finish the chapters, and run the whole thing through four complete editing cycles. Now, dear readers, you can understand why I haven’t been doing much blogging lately. Anyway the book is now at the publishers and I am – naturally – on pins and needles awaiting their next response.

So, now what????

First of all, you will find at the conclusion of this entry the latest recipe test that is included in the book. We made a crawfish pie based on the Massialot cookbook (Paris, 1699) with modern modifications from newer Creole cookbooks at our disposal and our own imaginations. Suffice it to say, at this point, that we decided to leave out or significantly reduce the turnips included in the recipe below.

Now, back to considering the next 10 or 15 years. Of course, a lot of this thinking depends on the publisher’s answer. If the book gods are kind, I expect to be doing a lot of revision and rewriting over the next many months. Otherwise, the self publishing route is to be considered and acted upon. But regardless of any of these outcomes I am thinking primarily of two options. One, continue the culinary history into the Spanish period of Louisiana colonial history. OR Two, an autohorticultural work (new word, anyone?) that is an autobiography of yours truly building a New Orleans garden in the exurbs of the city, the Northshore aka the Florida Parishes.

Before you look at the Crawfish Pie recipe below, I have a request. The New Orleans Tri-Centennial Facebook page (aka this blog) now has over 350 follows. I would LOVE to hear from some of you – even if it is just to tell me whether you like the turnips in the pie or not. There is usually a comment form below the blog entry, please use it to let me know what you think. Ok, enough of all of this, here’s the recipe:

CRAWFISH PIE

• 1 lb. crawfish tails

• A double pie shell

• Onion, bell peppers, turnip, garlic, celery, mushrooms, salt, cayenne pepper,

• Basil leaves, thyme, parsley, olive oil, white wine,

Bake one pie shell first about 10 minutes in a hot oven (450) or until brown, cool.

First you make a roux. Sauté some mushrooms and 6 or so 1 inch cubes of turnip in olive oil. Mix up 1/2 cup of seafood stock, 1/2 cup of white wine, 2 tbsp each of butter and flour. Add to the sautéed mushrooms. Reduce by half.

Chop together, as finely as possible, the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and celery and four cubes of turnip. When the roux thickens and is almost cooked, add the chopped vegetables to stop the cooking process. Return to the fire and sauté for several minutes to cook the vegetables through. Add the salt and cayenne to taste. Wait about 5 minutes, taste the sauce and correct the seasoning, then add the crawfish tails. Cook together for 10 minutes.

Mix the thyme, parsley, and basil into the crawfish sauce and pour into the cool pie shell. Top with the second (uncooked) shell. Bake at 400 for about ½ hour or until the top shell is browned and crunchy.

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BTW, The Petticoat Rebellion, Part I is still on sale at Amazon and other online venues, both in trade paperback and as an eBook; as well as – I am proud to announce – The Arcadian Books store at 714 Orleans St. , a half block behind the Cathedral in the French Quarter. Check it out.

(Using that phrase, it also reminds me that you can actually “check it out” from the St. Tammany Parish Public Library).

WISH ME LUCK !!!!!!!

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