Sunday, April 8, 2012

Rites of Spring and Summer

Years ago, (2001-2004) I worked as parish administrator for an Episcopal church in Brookline and Easter week was like the week before April 15 for CPAs. I.e., crazy bananas. Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and then the big finale, two services on Easter Sunday. Working at MIT after that until we moved down here in 2010, Easter wasn't a meaningful part of my life aside from an opportunity to enjoy Sunday dinner with family, with a lamb dinner and a basket full of candy.

Obviously, New Orleans is deeply connected to the culture of the Easter holiday, starting with the celebration that precedes the start of Lent, a little something called Mardi Gras. Many people have long Easter weekends off- getting some combination of Thursday, Friday, and/or Monday off of work. There are all sorts of traditions in play all over the city. 

One such tradition that I've been itching to try since I heard about it is Dookie Chase's Holy Thursday Gumbo Z'herbes. Ms. Leah Chase has been making this gumbo on this one day for many years. She uses 9 different kind of greens - you need to have an odd number of greens for luck- and the tradition is that you will make as many friends in the upcoming year as there are number of types of greens. The greens used this Holy Thursday by Ms. Chase were: mustard, collards, red swiss chard, beet tops, cabbage, carrot tops, spinach, kale, and watercress.


It had the nine greens, and sausage, and bits of pork and maybe... turkey? Served over rice. We'd ordered the fried chicken, but they ran out, which actually worked out to us getting our meal comped AND getting some awesome official Dooky Chase Holy Thursday t-shirts! Ms. Chase's grandson came out and was so gracious and apologetic.  Also, um, super handsome? Anyway, we had a wonderful meal and this will be a tradition every year.

After gumbo, we went to Hansen's for our first snoballs of the season!! So awesome. I got cream of chocolate and vanilla bean, and Tom got cream of nectar and anise. 

The sweet taste of summer! 

Gumbo Z'herbes and Hansen's Sno-Bliz. Two amazing traditions that make me incredibly happy to live in this wonderful, vibrant city that values their unique customs and loves to eat.

(to find out how we spent what will hopefully become an annual Holy Saturday tradition participating in NOLA Brewing's Easter Keg Hunt, check out my other blog here.)

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