While the rest of you try to recreate a Mardi Gras crewe in some Chicago tavern or music club, I’ll try to stay out of trouble, for once. Maybe a late lunch at Heaven on Seven. Whip up Paul Prudhomme’s recipe for gumbo at home. I have a leftover roast chicken to make stock. Dredge some boneless, skinless chicken thighs in some cayenne dusted flour. Crisp those thighs in hot oil. Use some of the spicy frying oil for roux. Add onions, green peppers, and celery when the roux is brown. Put a spoonful of the roux mixture into boiling chicken stock until it dissolves and repeat until you have a nice thick soup. Throw in some chicken andouille. Re-add the chopped fried chicken thigh. Simmer for a while. Serve with rice. A meal in itself.
You can’t spend that much time in the kitchen on Fat Tuesday without a New Orleans soundtrack. Here’s mine.
Professor Longhair-Red Beans. This boogie woogie is so good it hurts. It’s about cooking. And other stuff.
Trombone Shorty-Hurricane Season. One of the catchiest damn songs I’ve ever heard. Trombone Shorty is the grandson of New Orleans R&B pioneer Jesse Hill, who recorded
“Ooh Poo Pah Doo.”
Neville Brothers-Voodoo. If you’re feeling lazy, just throw on the album “Yellow Moon” or their first as an official group, “Fiyou on the Bayou.” This song takes me back to the day I ducked into Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo to get me a mojo hand. Just between you and me, I think it’s made me immortal.
Labelle-Lady Marmalade. Tous le monde parle le francais. C’est magnifique d’etre vivant.
Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns-Rockin’ Pneumonia. Been fighting a cold all weekend until I realized my malady was related to Fat Tuesday.
Beausoleil-Kolindo. There are certain musical sounds that have a mystical hold on me. Bagpipes, sitars, and Cajun fiddles. I could listen to Beausoleil all day and sometimes I do.
The Hackberry Ramblers-Ma Chere Belle. Where it came from.
Thomas Dolby-I Love You Good-bye. Thomas once succumbed to the blandishments of the Big Easy. Under a Cajun moon…
Zachary Richard-Come On Sheila. This is a great song. Cajun rocker who has been release fine albums since 1972.
Robbie Robertson-Go Back To Your Woods. I recently finished a book called “The French Quarter: An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld,” a vivid historical account of the Crescent City’s beginnings and legacy. The section on Storyville details the guides that were published in the 19th century that listed ladies of the evening by their accomplishments. Sort of a Zagat Guide for ill repute. This is the New Orleans that inspired Robbie’s album “Storyville,” and this song.
Boozoo Chavis-Paper In My Shoe. Before Buckwheat, there was Boozoo. NRBQ once recorded a song called, “Boozoo, That’s Who” because they loved him.
Johnny Adams-Garbage Man. A delayed flight at Midway meant my trip to pick someone up afforded me the time to settle into all of Tom Marker’s Fat Tuesday preview on Bluesbreakers. Tom threw down some blues from the ‘Tan Canary,’ Johnny Adams.
Allen Toussaint-Night People. As a New Orleans record producer, songwriter, and hit maker, Allen Toussaint is without parallel. You might remember the Robert Palmer cover of this song from around the same time.
Only a start, but if I’m going to get that chicken stock simmering in time to turn it into gumbo, I’d better start chopping vegetables.