Orphan Thanksgiving

IMG_3097Being away from family during the holidays can be really hard. It’s just not financially possible for me to go home for every one, and since I’m a server at a restaurant, I’m working for most of them anyway. This year, the restaurant was closed for Thanksgiving leaving me totally available to celebrate. The boyfriend has an aunt and uncle out here, but they were going to visit other family for the holidays and wouldn’t be around on that Thursday. Luckily, we were able to celebrate with them a few days early, but we were still left with nothing to do for Thanksgiving day.

Solution? LSU Orphan Thanksgiving! As I’ve said before, there’s LSU alumni everywhere and L.A. is certainly no exception. There are a few of them out here that I’ve known throughout college and a few more that I was reintroduced to upon moving to Los Angeles. For Thanksgiving this year, we decided to all get together as a family and spend the holiday with each other.

Everyone offered to bring a few different food items and, in true Louisiana fashion, everyone brought alcohol.  We actually had a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings and it was delicious! Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, the works! We gathered to eat at a big table and even went around and said what we were thankful for. We reminisced about college, filled each other in on acting successes and talked about upcoming plans to go back to the South to visit.

It was nice to be surrounded by my fellow L.A. orphans from back home who are all in the same situation I am and understand what it’s like. I am so thankful for my SoCal family and cannot wait to see what the future holds for all of us!

The Gumbo Pot

gumbopotFinally! I did it! I found a restaurant in Los Angeles that serves some seriously good Southern food – The Gumbo Pot!

Since the minute I settled into my apartment in the Valley I have been looking for good places to eat that reminded me of home. With the help of UrbanSpoon, I was able to find a couple places nearby that serve Cajun and creole cuisine. I tried out a few only to find jambalaya made with tomato paste and flavorless red beans and rice. I was disappointed at every turn and left each restaurant still craving some good ole Southern cooking.

One day, my boyfriend and I had the day off together and decided to visit The Grove. It’s an upscale, outdoor mall with a ton of restaurants and a farmer’s market. Neither one of us had been before, so we opted to walk through the mall and then have dinner somewhere new. We saw The Gumbo Pot on a long list of restaurants located in the farmer’s market, and since I had a hankering for a shrimp po’boy, we decided to give it a shot.

I was not very optimistic about the whole thing until I started reading the menu. Most places I had tried before featured fried chicken and blackened something served with a sorry excuse for gumbo. This place seemed to have it all – crawfish etouffee, seafood gumbo, shrimp po’boys and y’all, they had sweet tea.

I ordered the fried shrimp po’boy with high hopes and was absolutely not disappointed. It was everything I wanted it to be: French bread, seasoned shrimp and it was dressed with real mayonnaise. The only downside was that, unlike Louisiana po’boys, this one had fairly small shrimp that only covered the sandwich and didn’t overflow onto the plate. I can’t really knock them for that, though, considering shrimp is a lot cheaper in Louisiana than here.

I enjoyed my po’boy so much that I had my boyfriend get us a cup of seafood gumbo to try out. Again, absolutely not disappointed! It was perfectly seasoned, had all the right ingredients and made me feel like I was right at home. I could practically hear the jazz music and smell the beignets. It. Was. Glorious.

So, if you’re looking for a little SoCo in SoCal to satisfy your belly, look no further than The Gumbo Pot at The Grove!

SoCo in SoCal

tailgateSo I guess technically this is more NorCal than SoCal, but just the other weekend I had a fantastic Southern surprise in San Francisco.

Over the weekend, I went to visit my boyfriend while he was training for a job in San Francisco. It just so happened that on that Saturday our alma mater, LSU, was going up against one of the most reviled teams in the SEC, Alabama. It’s a big game that I never miss and this year would be no exception. We had no clue where to watch the game and had planned on getting take out and watching it in the hotel room. That planned changed when I discovered that San Francisco has its very own LSU Alumni chapter!

We checked their Facebook page and found out that the chapter gathers at a local bar for all the games. Also, a very generous alumna had funded catering for the game and we would be treated to red beans and rice and po’boys. Upon arriving at the bar, Northstar Café, we were greeted by two people decked out in LSU and Saints gear serving up some delicious Southern classics. We got inside and were immediately given purple and gold “Beat Bama” coozies and found a spot at the bar right in front of a flat screen TV. Posters were advertising Abita Purple Haze drink specials and we were given water in plastic purple and gold “Beat Bama” cups.

After settling down with some red beans and ordering my first Purple Haze, I noticed the bar had started to fill up. About half an hour from kick-off it was standing room only and we were packed in like Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras day. Everyone was decked out in purple and gold and posters with “Geaux Tigers!” hung behind the bar. We spent the game making friends with those around us, talking to the bartenders and exchanging stories about Katrina, high school and tailgates with other alumni. We high-fived strangers and took “Tiger Claw” shots on every touchdown. We screamed, we chanted, we sang the fight song. We booed the rogue Alabama fans that came by to rile us up and the bartenders even got in on it, too. We sat in disbelief during the second half as Alabama made the most unfortunate comeback and cinched the W yet again.

I know the game didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, but I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t one of the best tailgates I’ve been to in years. Being around so many people in the middle of San Francisco who have such a love for my home and my Tigers was one of the greatest feelings in the world. I couldn’t believe how many transplants there were just in that one city. It just goes to show you that we, the LSU alumni, are everywhere. If you look hard enough, you might just find a little Southern comfort in the most unexpected place.