Tuesday, October 17, 2017. An Inviting Presentation At Sea. A few years ago a cruise ship hired me to give talks about New Orleans food, Hurricane Katrina, and related topics that–thank goodness–charm visitors to New Orleans. I also hosted several dinners along the way. The cruise was in the Caribbean, and after the three days of my gig I regretfully left the ship and flew home. It was all pleasant enough that I looked into the possibility of my conducting cruises like this with some frequency. But the logistics–especially those necessary to keep the radio show going while I am sailing–creates one job too many for me.
This week, a similar invitation from a different ship came in the email. Asked whether I’d be up for the same sort of undertaking in a few months. It was the right idea at the right time for me, so the deal is done. The capper is that Mary Ann says that she would like to come along with me. The cruise line accepted the idea and even paid for her air fare. We have not taken a cruise together in a few years. (See “Too Busy” in The Encyclopedia of Life’s Mistakes.)
On a related note, I had a meeting after the radio show with one of the people who organizes Jesuit High School’s annual auction and food-heavy fundraiser. I’ve attended these often over the years, first as father of my son when he was a Blue Jay, and afterwards a few times as the auctioneer. People tell me I’m good at that, although I don’t exactly know what I bring to the job.
It was a convivial evening at Café Adelaide for the lady from Jesuit and me. It got even better when Lally Brennan–co-owner with her cousin Ti Martin of Commander’s Palace and Café Adelaide–saw me struggling to get a table. The Jesuit lady (I didn’t ask to use her name here, so I haven’t) had some details to discuss about the auction. The original plan was to do this in the Swizzle Stick Bar–Café Adelaide’s trend-setting, excellent lounge. But the place was packed and more than a little noisy.
Lally took over and gave us the perfect table for our meeting. That proved to be a good move for Lally, because it moved the Jesuit lady and me to stay for a light dinner.
Well, almost light. I began with the turtle soup, which comes from Commander’s Palace, and is therefore one of the best examples of that genre. The Jesuit Lady has an entree-size salad of a variety of unusual greens and root vegetables. The central protein was lamb belly–a meat that has been very intriguing in other instances. The name of the dish is “Rub My Belly.” J.L. proved herself a gourmet with this choice and other reports of restaurants she likes.
My entree was a stack of lacquered redfish fillets, pan-broiled to near-perfection. I don’t use that cliche often, but it was appropriate in this case. Café Adelaide keeps its formulations simple, but the ingredients are always stand-alone excellent.
About two hours later, we had all the plans pulled together for the auction. The J.L. was so engaged with the event that I thought I’d trot out the great flaw in her asking me to do this. Although would do anything for Jesuit and remain friends with all the guys in my class of 1968, I did not graduate from there. The failing was all mine, and I have no sabers to sharpen about the school’s decision to let me go. But it’s still an empty space in my life. What can be done about that, I don’t know. I was just hoping that I wouldn’t be found out and dismissed from the auction. I don’t think that will happen, mainly because I plan to sing the Alma Mater at the end of a very successful auction.