As a self-professed foodie, I love when one bite of a dish immediately transports me to a specific place and time. I'm a sentimental, big-on-nostalgia sap anyway, so combining memories and food will always put me over the edge. So it was with this recipe and memories of a trip I took to New Orleans last fall.
The trip was, in a word, perfect. I was there for the National Association for Gifted Children's annual conference and had just started my first year teaching in a self-contained gifted classroom. I was at a new school in a new grade level. Still feeling pulled between my old school and my new one, I was a bit nervous about how things would go. I was rooming with a lady from my new school; we had talked some but weren't really friends. But we would be. You see, she loves food, fun, and drinks just as much as I do. And we acted on it. I may or may not have *unknowingly* left her with her foot stuck in a hole at 3 a.m. (the second one--it was "fall back" day for daylight savings) on our way home from Bourbon Street. I'm pretty sure she's since forgiven me.
I was also able to spend time with good friends from my old school. Seeing them was just what I needed and I was so glad to share our passion for educating gifted children during the day and our need for lots of catch up time. Sports bar lunch? Check. Ghost tour? Check. Pirate bar--twice? Check, check, and double check.
I learned so much at the conference and was literally moved to tears by a wonderful group of women I met from Louisiana. Their passion for educating artistically talented children grabbed me in a way I didn't expect. They healed a part of me I didn't know needed mending, spoke to my soul, and reinvigorated me as an educator. For that, I will always be indebted.
And New Orleans? You surprised me, too. You really are a lovely city. You're lively and gritty and full of fun. You recognize the need for art, music, history, and soul. You know we all need a good party every now and then. You are comfortable being just what you are. You are nothing if not real. I love you. I cannot wait until we meet again.
Andouille Sausage and Shrimp with Creole Mustard Sauce
from Bon Appétit, February 2007
1 lb. uncooked peeled and deveined large shrimp (I used ones with the tails still attached.)
1 TBSP Creole or Cajun seasoning, such as Tony Chachere's
2 TBSP vegetable oil, divided
1 pound andouille sausage, cut on a diagonal into 3/4-in-thick pieces
1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/3-in-wide strips
1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
5 TBSP Creole mustard (or 4 TBSP stone ground mustard, 1 TBSP Worcestershire, and a few dashes Tabasco)
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 green onions, greens only, chopped (my addition)
white or brown rice, for serving