One day last week, I received a message from one of my friends telling me that she and two of our other friends had picked up Mellow Mushroom in Durham for dinner.
I was SO jealous — that pizza is killer. There are good pizza places in New Orleans too, but nowhere that I’d drive 20 minutes each way for without a second thought.
Then, a few nights ago, another friend texted me that she had just gotten home from The Loop.
And their Oreo milk shake had been excellent, per usual.
My response : “GO PLAY IN TRAFFIC.”
Having not had one of those excellent Oreo shakes since last summer, she knew that I would just about kill for one right now.
My friends had sent me joyous messages about the great food they knew how much we had enjoyed from certain Chapel Hill restaurants.
And they knew that thinking of those places would remind me of the good times we’d had together while frequenting them.
This year’s book selection for a program in New Orleans fits in exactly with this theme of food and place.
Every fall, the Young Leadership Council partners with the Literacy Alliance of Greater New Orleans to sponsor “One Book, One New Orleans,” a community-wide campaign for literacy.
This community program aims to bring residents of New Orleans together through the shared experience of reading the same book during an annual reading period.
This year’s selection is “Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table,” by Sara Roahen.
I hadn’t honestly given the book and its message of using a city’s food culture as a way to feel at home in a new place too much thought after reading a few reviews of it in August.
However, as I reminisced over just how often in the last few weeks my friends in Chapel Hill had mentioned eating at our local favorites, I understood how true the message of “Gumbo Tales” really is.
We, the students of UNC, think of the food we eat and the restaurants that we frequent as an important part of our experience in Chapel Hill as a whole.
Needless to say, New Orleans has amazing food as well.
From overstuffed fried green tomato and shrimp rémoulade po’ boys to beignets to the fact that it’s acceptable to cover 99 percent of foods consumed in this city in Tabasco, New Orleans cuisine is something to write home about.
It’s something that people are very passionate about, from locals to transplants to those who have only visited New Orleans for a weekend but still blabber to their families and friends about how great the city’s Cajun food was.
In all of those instances, the force that brings people together and allows them to relate to each other is food.
However, it can be just about anything that draws people together, from food to sports to being alumni of the same college.
What matters is that this thing is a rallying point around which people with different backgrounds and different interests otherwise can all gather and find some common ground.
Lea Luquire is a senior Spanish major from Yancyville spending the semester in New Orleans. Contact Lea Luquire at Llea@email.unc.edu
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