Gator-Tater Salad

Editor Note: This entry was written originally in 2006.

It seems the Louisiana sun has permanently altered my personal thermostat. Last week I was enjoying the pleasant cool front when I noticed the weather report. 81 degrees (F) with 39 percent humidity.

For some time now, I’ve wanted to write about the fun parts of living in the swamp. I got stuck for awhile; a version of writer’s block, I suppose. Given a multitude of frustrations at work and the persistent 100-degree (F) steam bath weather when it was supposed to have been growing crackly and chilly outside put me in a sour humor for a few weeks. And that was before my boyfriend found a dead lizard under our living room rug. As a result, even though fun things have happened, I wasn’t in any mood to reflect on them. I was too busy wallowing. However, the pity party is coming to a close now, and I can’t deny that we are having a little fun in spite of feeling occasionally sorry for ourselves.

Labor Day weekend a colleague of my boyfriend’s asked us if we would like to go out on the boat. Since we have been long-spoiled by the glorious clean water in Minnesota, we were very suspicious. Would we be able to swim? Were there alligators? Hmmm. Coolers packed, off we went. We were in a caravan with two boats and about ten people and we spent the whole day on the water. My boyfriend got his wakeboarding fix and I went tubing. We drank beer, and ate sandwiches, and the water was fine for swimming (a little murky but we didn’t look too closely). We now understand that there are people outside of Minnesota who also know how to enjoy water.

Even more outrageous, we went to a bar on the water that I daresay may have had more character than the Hotel Shoreham, my favorite northern Minnesota watering hole. The only way to get to the bar, which was called the Prop Stop, was via a water taxi that picked you up from your boat when you dropped anchor in the murky water out front. I was overdressed with my t-shirt and shorts on over my bikini; the regulars knew that all they needed were their flip-flops. The worm bucket cocktails were delicious (complete with gummy worms in the bottom of the cup), and all drinks were served in go cups. I did not enter the hula-hoop contest.

This has been our favorite day so far, or at least it is on the short list. As for other recent South Louisiana fun, my boyfriend tried to sign me up for a bowling league, but I didn’t last. Doing something for four hours once a week for thirty weeks was too much commitment for a loner like me, so I squirmed out of it. He and his work buddies formed two teams: the Foreign Legion and the United Nations. It is entirely possible that they are the only white people in the entire bowling alley every Thursday evening, which I find entertaining, considering the segregated nature of south Louisiana. I do my loner things for a little while at home and then go on cheerleading detail and catch them during the last game of the night, around 8:30 or 9:00. That way I can have a beer and enjoy the spectacle without actually having to bowl. I have to sneak some Guinness in my purse, though, because the beer at the bowling alley is terrible.

Thursday night I was rewarded for my support of these silly activities when afterwards people got fired up and decided to go to the local piano bar. I was all for it, because they make this divine concoction called the Dirty Grasshopper martini. It looks like a bowl of melted chocolate chip mint ice cream and tastes like liquid Andes after-dinner mints. I had two and was therefore a little fuzzy for work Friday morning, but it was definitely worth it.

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I headed into New Orleans for the day. We meant to do this last weekend, but a cocktail party and trip to the Y Bar last Friday night put me on the couch the following Saturday, so we re-scheduled. It was the tenth anniversary of the Crescent City Farmer’s Market in New Orleans. We were excited to check it out. According to the website there would be good produce, live music, and local chefs with recipes to share. The recipe of the week is Gator-Tater Salad. As it turned out, the Crescent City Farmer’s Market was still small since the hurricane, so it wasn’t quite the event we were anticipating. It was charming, however, and it led to further exploration.

In the end, we had a fantastic day of window shopping on Magazine street and cruising around the area of the city that we think is like Grand Avenue in St. Paul, MN, with a little bit of Uptown (Minneapolis, MN) thrown in. The ladies dress up down here and the Whole Foods Market was glorious, buzzing with wine and live music, so I got my city fix. The day wrapped up with a quick dip in the apartment pool back in Houma, before a lovely shrimp and crab stuffed filet for dinner and a few more Dirty Grasshopper martinis. And so, there you have it. While I’m not so sure about anything called Gator-Tater Salad, I am forced to admit that we are not without amusement here.