Sweet Oranges, Bro

The Mid-City Farmers market, in front of The American Can building on Orleans Ave.

I’ve been visiting the Mid-City Farmer’s Market most Thursdays for a few months. In the past, I’ve not been good about knowing when fruit is in season.* In DC I was an on/off member of Arganica, a home-delivery, local-source food club that I’d recommend to any Washingtonians. I was slowly learning the time of year that produce was availableĀ  when I moved down here.

Example: I had to ask my boyfriend why I never see apples at the farmers markets in New Orleans. After all, there were a number of varieties at all the markets in D.C. “Apples grow well in colder climates,” he explained.

I felt really dumb after he told me this. (My boyfriend is from California and as a teenager his mom had a job packaging plums, so I believe he is a produce expert.)

So my seasons ignorance set me up for a nasty surprise today. I’ve been buying a particular orange from the orange guy at the Mid-City market. They’re called Sweet Oranges cos they are very, very sweet. (Or at least he calls them that.) They are the most awesome oranges I’ve ever had– and I’m from Florida, famous for its oranges! (Although don’t ask me when they are in season.)

The orange man. (Not to be confused with someone who went to the Syracuse-- zing!)

These sweet oranges have been a lifesaver. I’ve gained a lot of weight living in NOLA (more on that in an upcoming post) and I have found it at least somewhat easy to opt out of dessert at home with these oranges around. Well, the orange man told me today that this is the last week he’ll have them.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooOOOoooOoooooOOOOOOOOooooo

He corrected himself and said that his wife will have the last round of oranges this Saturday, at the farmer’s market at in the Warehouse District. Well, I don’t get up early enough for that, but perhaps one of you dear readers will take advantage of this opportunity.

This is the day some sweet oranges broke my heart.

(And that was going to be the title of this blog post until my boyfriend suggested the title above.)

(Two boyfriend references! I judge myself.)

To remember for all eternity:

SWEET ORANGES ARE AVAILABLE DECEMBER-BEGINNING OF MARCH IN NEW ORLEANS

Until next year, my sweet sweet orange.

*(if this was a more different blog I’d write about how our America is so removed from its agrarian roots that people don’t know when fruits/vegetables are fresh. Or I could write about any number of environmental movements. I would probably sound more self-righteous than I do normally, so I’m glad that’s not my baileywick.)

UPDATE 3/8/2012, about 20 minutes after original post
A commenter who may-or-may-not be someone I date posted that my apple information was incorrect. According to Apple Facts from the University of Illinois, apples are grown in all 50 states.

Home-Cooked Red Beans and Rice (with caveats)

Caveats:

– I didn’t cook the red beans and rice, my boyfriend did.
– It was vegetarian
– My boyfriend did not make it on a Monday night.

He used a recipe from the cookbook Cooking up a Storm. From the Amazon book description:

“After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, thousands of people lost their keepsakes and family treasures forever. As residents started to rebuild their lives, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans became a post-hurricane swapping place for old recipes that were washed away in the storm. The newspaper has compiled 250 of these delicious, authentic recipes along with the stories about how they came to be and who created them. Cooking Up a Storm includes the very best of classic and contemporary New Orleans cuisine, from seafood and meat to desserts and cocktails. But it also tells the story, recipe by recipe, of one of the great food cities in the world, and the determination of its citizens to preserve and safeguard their culinary legacy.”

Some Red Beans and Rice History

Red beans and rice is an inexpensive meal and red beans grow very well in the Louisiana swamps. Back in “the day” (unspecified time before now) Monday was the traditional washing and cleaning day, so women would leave the pot of red beans boiling while they tended to their chores. Louis Armstrong loved red beans and rice and used to sign his name “Red Beans and Ricely Yours, Louis Armstrong.” (I’ve seen some people do this down here with their email signatures.)

Bars that Serve Red Beans and Rice (and not always on Mondays!)
– Pals (Monday)
– Micks (Monday)
– Candlelight Lounge (Wednesday)

– Vaughns (Thursday)

The Trinity
Red beans and rice calls for what is known as “the holy trinity”: onions, bell peppers and celery. These three ingredients are a staple of so many Louisianan recipes and the name pokes fun of the Catholic influence of the region.

Dirty Coast, one of the many tshirt shops that has popped up since Katrina, sells a design (available as a tshirt, a poster or bag) celebrating the trinity in Louisiana culture.
What do you put on your Red Beans and Rice?
I just found out today that my friend adds relish to hers. “Is that weird?” she asked. I didn’t know. What does everyone add to theirs?

My friend is in the Krewe of Nyx and made this red beans and rice decorated purse.

Update, 3/8/2012
The same friend who adds relish to her red beans and rice pointed me to Fleurty Girl‘s facebook page. Fleurty Girl will soon sell a locally made red beans and rice ring!

And who is Fleurty Girl? She is one of the many purveyors of NOLA-inspired tshirts and goods that has opened since Katrina. Soon I’m going to begin a series where I’ll break down some of the inside jokes featured on these shirts (just as I did with the Dirty Coast Trinity shirt above.)

Additionally, my dear friend asked an important question in the comments section of this post: “How did the food taste?” It was SO good! I think it got better after a night in the refrigerator. (It should be noted that this friend is an amazing chef. It should also be noted that I’m a bad New Orleanian for not thinking to comment on the food earlier!)

Lagniappe: Eaten Alive

When I used to live in New Orleans I always got a kick out of this storefront, located at 2501 Airline Drive. IĀ  recently dropped someone off at the airport and was delighted to find it still exists.

I always felt sorry for the cartoon crab. His two-different sized eyes and gritted teeth pull at your heartstrings. Poor little guy! He is so cute, even in his last moments. Who would want to eat him, besides the chef from The Little Mermaid?

The Airline Drive storefront reminds me of the logo from Metropolitan Meat, Seafood and Poultry, a company from Landover, MD whose truck I used to see constantly around D.C. These best of friends look so happy. Maybe it’s because the company pardoned the cow, crab and chicken from death, much the way the president pardons a turkey each Thanksgiving.

I’m not alone in wondering about this logo. One of my favorite blogs, DCist, wrote about the truck in 2007. I also found another blogger who wrote about it in a post about his DC memories.

“Here are my top five memories from the end of my time in DC…seeing the Metropolitan Meat, Seafood, and Poultry truck one last time and knowing that a menage a trois between a lobster, cow and chicken would produce the most delicious offspring, ever.

These animal/crustacean depictions give me pause and force me to consider another attempt to become a vegetarian. However, I’ve tried so many times and I’ve never been able to do it. And I feel New Orleans is not the city to pilot another effort.

Looks like I’ll just keep on eating adorable cartoons.

Previously in Lagniappe:
Beeracuda
Mardi Gras Float Storage