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  1. patti

    Dinner 2021

    A few dinners. Pan grilled catfish with lemon, dill, and grape tomatoes, zucchini, Mexican style street corn. Shrimp lo mein with snow peas, scallions, carrots, and red bell pepper. Chicken and steak tacos. The steak one was from some leftover steak and it wasn’t great. The dogs thoroughly enjoyed the steak pieces, though! For the second time in as many weeks, I made a mushroom galette. The filling on this one was much better than the first, with a combo of shiitake and cremini, onions, a head of roasted garlic, sherry, goat cheese and gruyere. Brisket sandwich and potato salad. The brisket was from Costco, frozen foods, with some added barbecue sauce and pickled onions, on brioche bun. Homemade potato salad. More mushrooms, this time in a mushroom and sausage stuffing, with sourdough bread. Served with a pork chop and baked sweet potato.
  2. Fried rice, rice pilaf, stuffed bell peppers, dirty rice.
  3. My sentiments exactly. In addition, the title of the program that was run most frequently was, “The Cajun Experience in Music, Food, and Dance.”
  4. The first few years that I ran the program, I had a wonderful venue to take the group to in a little town about twenty miles away. The family farmed rice and crawfish. One of the sons of the owner presented a slide show and a talk, explaining their operations and how rice and crawfish farming went together. This was followed by having boiled crawfish for lunch. It was really awesome, although in the fall, those groups were served crawfish etouffee, as it wasn’t crawfish season. I was pleasantly surprised by how many enjoyed the boiled crawfish experience, but thought it was funny when they asked where their utensils were. We don’t use utensils even for the corn and potatoes in the boil. All finger foods. The seasoning blend that was used had bunches of black peppercorns in it. One woman was aghast as she looked at her tray of crawfish. “Look at all the eyes looking back at me!” While it was true, that the crawfish eyes were still attached, a lot of those “eyes” were black peppercorns! 😂 Unfortunately, the patriarch of the operation passed away a few years after we started going there. I had no idea that his son was doing this only because his father wanted him to, and he stopped after his father’s death. His sister took over, but the lecture part was provided by someone else who wasn’t as good, and eventually it closed down altogether.
  5. I found out the folk life village had smothered rabbit on the menu one day, so I requested that my group get that, instead of the usual. So many times people commented on wanting authenticity, and smothered rabbit is beloved by many older Cajuns. Boy, was I wrong! Suddenly, authenticity meant nothing, as people were confronted with eating the Easter bunny. 😳😂 Lesson learned, on my part. Not sure they appreciated my little joke about the method of cooking smothered rabbit. “First you put the pillows over their little faces...”
  6. I never called anyone a moron or a Yankee! 😜 I try not to generalize to a group. But whaddaya mean about the view from up there? That southerners are morons?
  7. Yes, although not every dish was strictly something one would consider Cajun, the seasonings and styles were done in the way that most locals are used to. Unfortunately, Cajun meals are often carb heavy, and some of the little plate lunch places we went to didn’t have the kinds of salads that appealed to my group. One of my rules at the hotel for opening night dinner was absolutely no bread pudding, and no iceberg lettuce in the salads. The bread pudding rule was simply because so many restaurants served bread pudding as dessert that it aggravated at least a couple of people in every group, while some were thrilled with it. The thing was, each bread pudding was completely different, and many in the group would have a fun time rating and comparing them all. Typically, there were about three opportunities to have gumbo during the week. The first lunch included a cup of chicken and sausage gumbo as a starter. The second opportunity was at a dinner with a choice of c&s gumbo or a salad as a starter. The third opportunity was a cup of seafood gumbo as a starter. There were two crawfish etouffee opportunities, once as a choice at lunch, and another as a choice at a dinner. If that sounds like too much gumbo for y’all, as a native, I always had it at least twice. I don’t get tired of good gumbo. Most in the group were happy with it, as well. Rice dressing (aka dirty rice) was on the menu once, as was red beans and rice with smoked sausage. During our final meeting, I provided samples of boudin for them. Actually, eating some boudin was their passport to earning their Honorary Cajun Certificates. 😉 Kind of corny, but most enjoyed the ceremony, if not the actual boudin. Occasionally I would get an email from customer service telling me that someone had registered for a program and they didn’t like Cajun food. Was that going to be a problem? Um, well, yeah. And what do they mean when they say they don’t like Cajun food? They might be able to avoid specific Cajun dishes, but even if they choose meatloaf on a plate lunch, it will have been seasoned the way local people like things seasoned. Sorry for rambling.
  8. So am I depressing y'all with these posts? My original intent was to be lighthearted. Also, there were many delightful people on these programs. I wouldn't have been able to deal with the few challenging personalities as easily if they weren't mostly really go with the flow personalities. In every single program there were people who were appreciative, supportive, fun, validating, and positive.
  9. @Margaret Pilgrimmention entitled people. Speaking of which... There was a program that started in New Orleans (three nights), then on to Baton Rouge for two nights, and finally to Lafayette for four nights. This program was coordinated with the New Orleans Road Scholar and I didn’t meet the group until they arrived in Lafayette, when I took over. Hotel staff knew me, as I’d been hosting groups there for five years, but they weren’t necessarily familiar with the New Orleans group leader, or their bus driver. We were having dinner, and dessert was being served. I was seated with the New Orleans group leader and the bus driver and our table was near the others. The server knew me, and also knew not to serve me dessert. He served the other two at the table and moved on. I overheard a woman at the next table asking him why we were served before she was. He seemed puzzled. “Ma’am?” Her, in a very ugly tone of voice: “I want to know what your thought process was to serve THEM before you served ME.” Him: “Ma’am, I’m so sorry. I was just working my way around the room. Your table is next.” Her: Exasperated sigh. I know the other two people didn’t hear any of this as they were busy talking. I said nothing at the time, but the next day, I pulled her aside and explained that while our server knew who I was, and that I wasn’t taking dessert, he had no idea that the other two people weren’t just a part of the group. (I was giving her a chance to redeem herself, and hoping she’d be apologetic.) ”Oh, he had to know that was the bus driver! It was obvious! That’s ridiculous.” I didn’t respond and I walked away, but oh, the thoughts going through my head! First of all, he wasn’t wearing a uniform of any kind that would indicate he was a bus driver. What he was, was Black, so of course the server should have known that he should be served last! I was appalled. We’d call her a Karen these days. She never redeemed herself. While she seemed pleasant within her circle of friends, she was an unsmiling grump in any of our interactions. PS - I spoke to our server after the incident, concerned with the way he’d been spoken to. He was the nicest young man who was working his way through school. He told me he had developed a thick skin and wasn’t bothered by her tone at all.
  10. Ohhh, I like that. Social obtuseness. Yes! Agree on all points. PIA fo’ sho’.🤣
  11. She probably didn’t function very well in the real world. Might be the reason she still lived with a parent, required heavy sedative type meds, etc. Group travel was not for her.
  12. @Margaret PilgrimI’m going to respectfully disagree with your assessment. People who choose Road Scholar programs are people who’ve travelled extensively, both nationally and internationally. I was always the least travelled in any of my groups. That was one of the things I found funny. After telling me about a trip to Nepal, where they had to poop in a hole in the ground and seemed to appreciate the cultural difference, they might scream at me because the napkins at dinner were too small.* They were also well educated. It was rare to have someone in the program who did not have at least a bachelor’s degree, and many with higher degrees. Of course, there were exceptions to both of those. While the woman in the chef’s hat may have had a mental illness, I think she may have been on the autism spectrum, which doesn’t preclude her from also having some type of mental illness. She was definitely the most extremely different person in any of the programs. I do have empathy for her. I think most of the anecdotes are just about quirky people who’ve exhibited some bad behavior. *I forgot about the dinner napkin lady. One night at the hotel, instead of being served a plated dinner, there was a buffet. One of the servers mistakenly put out cocktail napkins instead of dinner napkins. While I thought it was an inconvenience, I didn’t think it was tragic, but one woman in the group went ballistic, and screamed ... no, really, SCREAMED at me because of the size of the napkins. First world problems, lady. Get a grip. She was nice all the rest of the week. They did bring out the correct dinner napkins, later. This was at a hotel that we only used for a year. There were other, bigger issues besides this one.
  13. I’ll just say that it was always interesting! From the ridiculous to the sublime.
  14. Speaking of eccentric people, I was puzzled by a socially awkward man in one of my programs. He didn’t interact much with others. During lectures, he took copious notes, focusing only on his notebook. I really thought he hadn’t enjoyed himself at all until the next year when he showed up to repeat the same program! This time around he even greeted me with a warm hug. Because he was a little friendlier than before, I felt I could ask him about his note taking. Was it a way to stay focused and shut out distractions? It was. I knew he was a college professor with a PhD, and highly intelligent. I wondered if he might be on the autism spectrum, specifically Asperger’s Syndrome. (You can take the girl out of the Speech and Language Pathologist field, but you can’t take the SLP out of the girl.) A perfect example of his lack of social skills and cues was what happened on pizza night. In a previous post, I mentioned that I ordered sampler pizzas with three kinds of pizza. Servers would place one giant sampler for every four people to share and sample each kind. I always ordered a couple of extra pizzas so that those with heartier appetites wouldn’t go hungry. This particular night, I was sitting across from our guy. As soon as the pizza was placed on the table, he reached out and scooped up all of one of the kinds of pizza, meaning the others wouldn’t have a chance to try that one. The people around him sort of gasped. I couldn’t very well ask him to put some back, as he’d scooped them up with his hands. He seemed completely unaware of his faux pas. I made light of it by reminding the others that a couple of extra pizzas would be coming out and they should be sure they had a chance to try all three varieties. He never noticed a thing. (I liked him, anyway. Really sweet guy.)
  15. patti

    Dinner 2021

    Oh my! That tart looks fabulous! Wow.
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