I heard two stories about suicide today, one on the radio during my commute home from work, and one on PBS Newshour. I need to share them with you.
Addressing Veteran Suicides In Song And Prose is a moving story about a singer-songwriter who was only ten when his father, a veteran, succumbed to suicide. Dan Johnson, working with a novelist partner, has turned this tragedy into stories and an album, Operation Hemingway, that helps people deal with the pain of being a “survivor of suicide loss”.
Suicide is born of indescribable pain and causes indescribable pain.
But despite the grim and heartbreaking subject, both of these stories offer hope.
Hope is the only way to climb out of the abyss.
Hope and connecting with others can both prevent suicide and help the survivors of the loss if it isn’t prevented. That’s the point of both of the stories.
I was silent for years about my brother’s suicide, but no more. My late friend Theresa used to say, “you’re only as sick as your secrets,” and this family tragedy is no longer a secret, silent wound that festers. My Brother’s Suicide: Out of the Darkness and Into the Lighttells our story, and there’s a poem, a plea, for anyone who is considering suicide to tell someone, just one person.
If you are a survivor of suicide loss and want to connect with others, November 17 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. There will be meet-ups all over the world where people can gather together to find support and share their stories. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides a link to find local gatherings and a virtual event will be held on Facebook. Their web site provides numerous resources for those who have lost someone.
Please don’t be silent. There’s hope.
In memory of Steven Thomas Harvell, November 29, 1966 – October 7, 2013. You left us too soon.
For some reason, articles I share here about cooking eggs always get a lot of traffic. So here’s the latest one I stumbled across, a treatise on avoiding common mistakes when scrambling the humble and ubiquitous egg. It’s a bit more detailed than my Mom’s instructions to me when I was a teenager helping out with the after-church brunch we always enjoyed on Sundays:
Don’t cook them so long that they turn into erasers.
It Started with Mom’s Food Crush on Paul Prudhomme and Her Collection of His Cookbooks
My Mom, an excellent cook, had a food crush on Paul Prudhomme. She bought every cookbook he published until her death in 2000, and those books were well-used. Marked-up, dog-eared and stained, they are family treasures.
As my first culinary teacher and mentor, Mom made sure I also got a copy of every one of the cookbooks, too, so I could share in the Chef Paul magic. I was a very young adult when Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchenwas published in 1984, and I’m sure that his recipes influenced my tastes and later, my recipes.
When she died, I inherited Mom’s Chef Paul cookbooks (and lots of others). I instantly started using her books instead of mine, because there’s a lot of love and family history encrusted in those pages. Along with the cutting boards my Dad made, these cookbooks are at the top of my Prized Possessions list. My own dog-eared copies of Chef Paul’s complete works are packed up and waiting for my son (known as the Musical Millennial in these pages) to have his own home and kitchen (after college and grad school).
Mom and Dad Fell in Love with K-Paul’s Restaurant
Even with Mom’s food crush on Chef Paul, it took a while for my parents to get to K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, the restaurant in New Orleans that he ran with his wife, Kay. Together, their names are the origin of the restaurant name “K-Paul’s”. Finally there on a culinary road trip in the late 80s, Mom and Dad absolutely loved their dining experience at K-Paul’s and raved about it from that day forward. (It was one of their first big empty-nester trips, and I’ve never really forgiven them for not taking me along.)
Mom was ill for the last few years of her life and definitely too sick to cook, but she was a devotee of all of Chef Paul’s cooking shows on PBS in the late 90s. It was fun to visit her and watch his shows, commenting on his recipes, reminiscing about the dishes we’d made from the cookbooks, just being foodie nerds together.
Well, I never made it to K-Paul’s with Mom and Dad, and Chef Paul died in 2015.
K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen is Alive and Well
K-Paul’s is still in daily operation in the French Quarter, and you can still find tried and true Louisiana Kitchen dishes there. The Grill-Meister and I took a tenth anniversary trip to NOLA this summer, and finally visited this family legend restaurant. More than 30 years after Mom and Dad’s discovery trip, it was everything they said it was, updated for this century. And yet, still a little homey, which is the promise of the sign, the original from the late 70s (as far as I can tell from online research).
Let me tell you about it.
The bread basket sported jalapeño rolls and two different little muffins, one of which, the carrot-pecan (and molasses, I suspect), had the Grill-Meister enthralled.
We shared Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp, and it was heavenly. Just the right amount of crisp batter on the tomato slices, with shrimp in a piquant brown sauce sandwiched between them.
Oh, the main courses! We ate, and we ate, and we still couldn’t finish them. I had the pan-fried fish and shrimp with jambalaya and the Grill-Meister had the blackened drum. Both came with gloriously sautéed vegetables and the drum was accompanied by a very creamy, very large dollop of garlic mashed potatoes.
Our waiter was magnificent: well-versed in the intricacies of the menu and daily specials, funny, solicitous and there when we needed him – but without hovering. Exactly the qualities we hope for in a waitperson.
We made friends with interesting folks at other tables.
The ambiance at K-Paul’s is casual and fun, with recipes on the walls.
It’s a well-oiled machine – we enjoyed watching the food come out and get served within moments.
Some folks say that K-Paul’s is a tourist destination, and they’re right. That’s just fine. It’s worth the trip. It was for Mom and Dad back in the 80s, and for the Grill-Meister and me last June.
And as for those heirloom cookbooks, they’re still in use here at Glover Gardens. We make Chef Paul’s blackened fish about once a month – check it out here.
Gumbo Recipe (and Stories) Coming Soon
I’m in a Paul Prudhomme mood because I’m making gumbo tonight, and he was one of my gumbo mentors. I’ll publish my version soon, hopefully in time for Thanksgiving and those turkey leftovers. Turkey makes marvelous gumbo.
Forced waiting in public is a perfect people-watching opportunity that can turn into poetry or prose. Here’s what arose from my recent visit to the DMV to get my driver’s license renewed, when I waited over an hour for my number to be called. These ditties aren’t going to win any awards, but I entertained myself mightily!
I made a mistake yesterday by believing WordPress that my hastily-written post Homeward Bound, published from seat 8A on a small Embraer 175 aircraft, failed to upload. So I pushed the “Publish” button once more, as the plane revved up on the runway at Reagan National Airport.
Then I happily changed the iPad to airplane mode and settled in to finish a murder mystery set in Paris (Cara Black’s Murder at the Lanterne Rouge, for my fellow mystery lovers and Francophiles).
This morning, I noticed that there are two identical Homeward Bound posts at the top of the Glover Gardens blog – oops! For some reason, this makes me smile. An “oops” haiku instantly springs to mind:
i’m amused by my obvious imperfection love me as I am
I’m going to keep both versions on the blog as a reminder to myself that I’m flawed, but still lovable. As are you – would you agree?