On the same day everyone felt the weather change in New Orleans, I heard a marching band practicing at a distance, as if rising from a football stadium somewhere. To me, the sound of that bass drum signaled fall just as clearly as the weather forecast. What happened next was inevitable: I had to have gumbo right away.
I know I wasn’t the only one, because all day I heard people talking about what they would eat to celebrate this hint of autumn. They were talking New Orleans food, and they were happy.
With all the rhythms and rituals of our lives that have been altered through the past months I’m reminding myself to stop and give thanks for things that endure. You have to love a town where, when the seasons show a glimmer of change, all people want to talk about is what to eat.
Fall arrives as such a relief it is visceral. It can lift the spirits and refresh our perspective. People are a little nicer to each other. The burdens we carry might feel just a little lighter. Even a slow start for the Saints doesn’t seem so bad.
And of course it plays through our shared cultural compulsion - New Orleans food.
Fall is traditionally a time of restoration in New Orleans, when our community connects again. The usual framework is changed this fall, with our festivals off and our gatherings cautious.
But this is also a time when every restaurant visit we make matters more, desperately more. It’s a time when every meal with share with others at home is more meaningful too. These are reunions around the table – or maybe out on the porch for a little better distancing. These are reaffirmations of what we have and how we do it here in our city.
Yes the rituals are different this year, but they are resilient. Football is back, the gumbo is on. We are in some hard times here, no doubt about that. But there’s also hope and in the fall in New Orleans, hope springs eternal.