J500 Media and the Environment

Laissez les bons temps rouler… at the dinner table, that is by marybethw


3363851089_2424d292e8Warm, puffy, flakey, and covered in powdered sugar. Beignets were one of the very few traditional southern Louisiana foods I’d eat as a vegetarian. Luckily, it’s placement in the French Quarter kept the original Cafe Du Monde (home of the best beignets in NOLA) site relatively safe when Katrina blew through in 2005. Beyond the Quarter was another story. Those without homes were also without food, even with aid coming in from around the globe. FEMA also kept those people in the local food industry (and, indeed, food is one thing New Orleans knows well) willing to use those skills to feed the hungry from doing so in the months that followed. 

Not only did the storm ruin the coastal population’s food supply, but it also hurt the food suppliers. Seafood has always been a major industry in southern Louisiana, with the state being America’s biggest shrimp producer. However, Katrina severely damaged an industry that was already beginning to hurt from foreign shrimp imports. So that, while NOLAs restaurants are making a slow comeback, other food industries in the area are having a harder time. Individuals are struggling as well, with the current economy hurting already overtaxed food banks.

2008_10_06splande1As the storm came and went I watched on TV; in the time since, I’ve watched in anger as the government left southern Louisiana on it’s own. I visited New Orleans for the first time, post-Katrina, in July 2008; we went through the Upper and Lower 9th Wards and into St. Bernard Parish. Many houses still had water lines on them and spray paint, where they were checked for bodies. Many businesses and government offices are still closed. Many people are still awaiting government assistance. Although it’s been years since I lived in southern Louisiana, my parents still do and, even if I’d never lived there I’d be hard pressed to not be struck by how much still needs doing, over three years later. While tourism has helped the restaurants, many individuals still await their own housing and a table for family meals. 

~ Mary Beth

Photo credits: Beignets, Marked house


5 Comments so far
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If you will permit me, the correct spelling of your title should be, “Laissez les bons temps rouler.”

“Bons” takes a final “s” because it is preceded by the plural article “les.”

“Rouler” is spelled with a final “r” in the infinitive. (“Roulet” spelled with a final “t” isn’t actually a word 😉

Merci bien !

Comment by Joseph

I’ve actually seen it spelled both ways — I’m woefully deficient in French (having not learned it since first grade) and even when I tried a couple of sites to double check myself, they either used another word for roll, or some did use bon. Thank you, though!

Comment by marybethw

Not a problem. It’s notoriously misspelled because people attempt to just do it phonetically with little or no background in written French. This leads to fractured French, which just looks, well…. illiterate.

For those of us working diligently in the French-language movement in Louisiana, any representation of our language and culture that appears substandard degrades the integrity and viability of who we are. (Compare this to only using written Ebonics to represent the African-American community or any linguistic stereotype to represent other minority communities.)

Contrary to popular belief, Louisiana French *CAN* be written; you just have to follow the orthographic rules for FRENCH and *not* the phonetic rules for English. (As an example, think of the ways in which dialectic English is represented, such as the way Jim talks in, “Huckleberry Finn.”)

Merci beaucoup for allowing me to comment, and thank you for trusting me enough to make the change ! 🙂

Comment by Joseph

Another look at how public policy and the environment don’t always see eye to eye. The failure to respond to Katrina is akin to its failure to respond to every other environmental problem, man made or otherwise.

Comment by bryand09

I just finished a can of Cafe Du Monde coffee on Monday!!!! VEGAN BEIGNETS are something often discussed at our house, but we have not done, may have to do so soon!!! I will donate the fryer oil to Judy and Michael for bio-diesel!!!!!

Comment by andre

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