It was Jazz Fest in New Orleans last weekend. I went once or twice a year when I lived there. My first experience involved hopping the VIP barricades to watch Bruce Springsteen up close. Then I rode home in the back of a pickup truck driven by some old hippies. Periodically they’d stop in the street and open all the doors so we could enjoy the Black-Eyed Peas blasting from the radio. I guess it was thoughtful of them.
A random drunk guy got a ride with them too. He rambled to me all about growing up in Gentilly. Being out in the Louisiana sun all day in May makes every drink twice as strong, so I can’t blame him.
Little did I know I’d see that man annually for the next four years. It became part of the Jazz Fest routine. We boarded the Jackson Avenue bus from our Garden District apartment and headed to the Fairgrounds. Like clockwork, a trio of middle-aged men boarded the bus from downtown. One of them was that guy, and sometimes he was forced to sit across from me. But we never acknowledged each other ever again. He was probably so drunk he didn’t remember or maybe just embarrassed. It was somewhat awkward.
I wonder if that guy boarded the Jackson Avenue bus again this past weekend? Some of my bffs still live in New Orleans, but they no longer partake in the bus routine. They’ve moved on.
Oh I was recently gifted some freshly peeled crawfish tails and made a dish similar to the quintessential Jazz Fest dish, Crawfish Monica. It’s pasta smothered in a spicy crawfish sauce. Kajun Kettle Foods only makes it for Jazz Fest, but now you can make it at home.
1 pound fusilli or penne
1 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
juice of half a lemon
1 pound crawfish tails
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until it is al dente. Drain and reserve 1/2 a cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the olive oil and cooking liquid and set aside.
2. Melt the butter and cook the onions over medium high heat until their soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the salt and black pepper to taste along with garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, onion powder, marjoram, and thyme and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Pour in the white wine and cook over medium heat until almost evaporated. Stir in the cream and lemon and simmer until slightly reduced. Add the crawfish tails, green onions, and parsley, and cook until warmed.
4. Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat with the sauce. Taste for salt and black pepper and adjust as necessary.
5. Serve in crawfish pasta in bowls garnished with Parmesan cheese.