The first full day of the 2018 International Food Blogger Conference is behind me and what an amazing day it was. I started the day on a walking tour of New Orleans’ culinary scene and ended the evening at an exclusive party at Fulton’s Alley enjoying a serving of cotton candy that would make my six-year-old pea green with envy. In between I met new people, learned about the rich history of our host city and was welcomed by a warm and encouraging community of fellow bloggers. Here are my five highlights from yesterday, in no particular order.
Being welcomed into the home of Gunter and Evelyn Preuss, former owners of Broussard’s. What a treat it was to meet Gunter, a second-generation restaurateur and chef, and his wife and business partner Evelyn. It was gracious of them to let 30 strangers into their beautiful home in the French Quarters and serve them a sampling of their jambalaya. In thanking Gunther for his hospitality, I learned that he had lived in Washington, DC and had worked at the Washington Hilton, the same Hilton where my father was a waiter for 40+ years. It’s incredible the links and commonalities that a love of food and the culinary arts can uncover.
- Visiting the Napoleon House. The Napoleon House is a 200-year-old landmark that is rich in history. Built as the home of New Orleans mayor Nicolas Girod, legend has it that Girod had planned to offer his home to Napoleon during his last exile in 1821, hence the building and restaurant came to be known as the Napoleon House. Since 1914, Napoleon House has served as a restaurant and is currently undergoing its first major renovation in 200 years. Having just spent a week in week in Cuba, I could see the similarities in the architecture of the Napoleon House and the other buildings in the French Quarter with the fading beauty of the buildings in Havana. I felt at home.
- The reminder that New Orleans cuisine carries the DNA of its people in each and every bite. New Orleans cuisine (Cajun and Creole) was fusion cuisine before fusion was a thing. Spanish, French and African influences are found in its gumbo, jambalaya and red beans and rice. This culinary confluence of culture was discussed on yesterday’s tour. It was brought during the taste of New Orleans mixer yesterday. It was discussed during the lighting rounds. It’s a reminder that food is more than sustenance. It is living history.
- Chatting briefly with Michael W. Twitty, winner of this year’s James Beard Award for writing and Book of the Year. Twitty, this year’s keynote speaker at the conference, was completely approachable, charming and down to earth. A writer who focuses on the history and origins of African-American Southern cooking is an inspiration to those of us who share an interest in documenting the history and traditions of our families and people.
- Having my son follow my Buen Provecho Amigos Instagram account. Alright, so this one is not conference related but yesterday was my son’s birthday, as noted in my previous blog post. I expected him to text me and tell me how embarrassed he was with the story I shared and not to tag him, which I did on all my social media accounts. He must have seen my Instagram post, since I tagged him there, and decided to follow me. He did it out of his own free will, without any cajoling from me. It was nice to know that he’s taking some interest in my activities, especially since he and his sister are the inspirations for my writing.