My First Southern Dinner
Now, I need to qualify any remarks I am about to make in this brief description of what I consider to be my “my first southern dinner.”
My girlfriend, a genuine southerner, happens to disagree that the following described evening qualifies as such.
However, myself, a professed lover of New Jersey, emphatically disagrees. Perhaps you will decide for yourself.
This past weekend I had the illustrious opportunity to meet a man entitled Dr. Ernest J. Gaines. For those of you
unfamiliar with this name, he is an African-American author, born on a Louisiana Plantation in Point Coupee Parish,
Louisiana. Louisiana, different in more ways than one from any other state in the U.S. does not have counties,
it has parishes, a mark of religion left on its beautiful landscape. Dr. Gaines wrote such notable books as A Gathering
of Old Men, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and A Lesson Before Dying (currently on my reading list).
Not only did I have the chance to meet him though, I had the opportunity to share a spot across the dinner
table from him. A born topic for REM.
So. What is a southern dinner in the eyes of a misplaced New Jerseyan?
1) Large Louisiana house filled with original natives of Louisiana and a famous southern African American author.
2) It was a rich house, the fireplace was gas operated, adorned above by a portrait of a young girl flanked by live oaks
dripping with Spanish Moss (the Louisiana decorative adornment of all its trees, in paintings that is).
3) Accents. A different one from each mouth.
4) A conversation about the insatiable appetite for High School football playoffs (competitions occurring as I write).
5) Absolutely amazing food with over half of the names unpronounceable to
the English tongue…pronounceable to the French-Cajun tongue with ease. Oh! And thank God…not fried.
6) The hostesses daughter serving everyone coffee and cleaning up our dishes…
All that was missing was a curled mustache and a pipe on the father. I guess the list could go on but I tire.
Dr. Gaines, the honored guest, provided his audience with a reading about how he wrote A Lesson Before
Dying, accompanied with passages from the novel. In a word: amazing, combined with the dinner, an incredibly unique “southern” evening.