I was visiting the Big Easy town and had dinner with a friend, in a trendy restaurant overlooking the Old Man river. The day had started hot, sunny and humid; as all the spring days had been to that point. But this time, the forecast was calling for a big storm.
Years after Katrina, there still is a shroud of sadness over the city – with a quarter of houses and businesses still boarded and abandoned. But our dinner was great; in the grand hall of Galvez, with all the tall windows open and the surprisingly cool evening breeze flowing through.
My Spanish friend was describing the items on the menu, half of which were different takes on the main theme of rice-and-fish. Just like us, they seem to have a love of “polo”, but using seafood instead of kebab.
Food talk often leads to culture, and culture to history. So we soon found ourselves musing over Goya and the Napoleonic wars - then Picasso and the civil war. A sad and solemn culture has Spain; with a lot of bottled up frustration, fear and anger … just like us … but with fish instead of kebab.
The chef took her sweet time, yet when it finally arrived, the Paella was exquisite. A steaming fusion of chewy, soft, boiled and sauced. Right then, our show started too!
Like a herd of wild and drunk elephants – gigantic clouds emerged from the southern horizon and boldly took over the setting sun – dominating the flood swollen Mississippi. Whirling winds picked up and next came the lights and colors of lightening – still too far to be heard.
We stopped talking and were simply mesmerized by the approaching giants. They seemed to have come right from Mount Olympus – with Zeus leading the charge and throwing bright spears in every direction. Then the lesser gods joined the battle, and soon the entire landscape was full of thunderous arrows and deafening bombardments.
The waiters were too busy to shut the windows; until the rainy wind rushed in, in earnest, and loudly closed the first one or two. They quickly took the hint and secured us inside that grand glass hall … marveling the battlefield. It was simply the best dinner-and-show that I have ever had.
Sadly, the next day’s paper was full of the not so entertaining photos of the forty North New Orleans houses, which had been destroyed the night before, by the storm’s tornados.
I guess, it is somehow fun to watch the wars and battles … from a distance … with the spectacular bombings and shootings. But I’ve been in them long enough, to know how terrible they are … up close and personal.
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