New Orleans in Our Hearts Gumbo
New Orleans, Louisiana
MAPPING THE DAY
On Saturday, August 27, 2005, K.O. and I were enjoying an extended weekend trip to New Orleans with our three adult children. We rented a car early that morning to tour the greater New Orleans area and to drive to Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour.
On our way out of town, we drove through Tulane University. We started to pay attention to local weather news when we found that student move-in day at the university was reversed to move-out day. A hurricane was bearing down in the Gulf and had changed course toward New Orleans.
We called Jean Lafitte’s and they confirmed that our scheduled tour would be the last that weekend, so we continued with our plans. We had a great afternoon and then drove back to our hotel in the French Quarter. To our naive California dismay, many of the local businesses were boarded up and had closed during the four hours we had been gone.
After the panicked feeling set in, we started to consider options. Our flight home was scheduled for the next morning. By then, all other flights were either booked or cancelled. We still had our rental car, so that was our secondary exit plan. Now all we could do was wait and watch the news.
We had reservations for dinner that evening at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen on Chartres Ave. We confirmed that they were still open and decided to enjoy good meal.
VIEW FROM THE TABLE
K-Paul’s is a special restaurant. It is the product of Chef Paul Prudhomme’s passion in the kitchen and his Louisiana roots. Fresh ingredients are prepared with techniques that he has perfected over his culinary career.
That night we were seated upstairs in the parlor with other tourists still stranded in the French Quarter. Everyone talked about the hurricane and their plans to escape its wrath. In the face of their own personal needs to escape Katrina, the K-Paul’s staff delivered exemplary service and cuisine to guests. Our meal was Louisiana cuisine perfection.
Early the next morning, we set out for the airport. The deserted streets spoke volumes about the severity of the coming storm. We hastily parked the rental car in an abandoned airport lot and entered the terminal where the mayor was holding a press conference that ordered everyone to evacuate New Orleans.
Our Southwest flight was the last to leave before the airport was closed. We escaped with sadness that the people and places we just left behind may never be the same. Their hospitality and robust flavors will always be a fond memory of our road trip in New Orleans.
We started cooking gumbo from the Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen cookbook. We have adapted it to our locally available ingredients and preferred tastes.
NEW ORLEANS IN OUR HEARTS
CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE GUMBO