On Tuesday, Global New Orleans (GNO) invited me to conduct a class and discussion on Louisiana’s culinary culture with a group of entrepreneurs visiting from Kyrgyzstan/the Kyrg Republic. GNO is the local branch of Global Ties U.S., a network of citizen ambassadors committed to building the social trust that is foundational to peace and prosperity, both globally and locally, through international exchange operating on the premise that diplomacy begins here.

The group is visiting select cities in the U.S. in connection with the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. Through short-term visits to the United States, current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields experience our country firsthand and cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts. Yesterday was GNO’s first in-person gathering since early 2020.

The participants in Tuesday’s programming were all woman entrepreneurs, in fields ranging from STEM to finance to academics and beyond. In addition to working with me, they have been learning from other women leaders and entrepreneurs including Women’s Business Enterprise Council South President & CEO Phala Mire and Program Director Tiffany Carter, as well as Lauren Leblanc of Fleurty Girl.

A Cajun Gumbo Recipe and Free Pizza on The Struggle Bus
In the GNO kitchen with entrepreneurs from Kyrgyzstan.jpg

Members of the group chose New Orleans as a stop on their U.S. tour, so I taught them how to make a Cajun gumbo loaded with smoked chicken and andouille (from Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse in LaPlace) complete with the hot lava that is a proper thick, dark roux. Because it is always an interesting topic, I served the gumbo with rice as well as a simple potato salad. The guests were enthusiastic and adventurous. They asked for second helpings of a dish that was, no doubt, very foreign to them and all chose to eat it over potato salad rather than rice, something I was hesitant to do the first time I was offered it. At the end of the class the group presented me with a handmade jewelry box made by artisans in Kyrkool village in the Alay region of Osh province. I nearly burst into tears.

After two years of virtual Zoom everything it is a joy to be sharing Louisiana’s singular culinary culture with international guests in person once again.

As we bridge New Orleans with the rest of the globe, we strive to import international understanding and continue to export success,” said Sarina Mohan, GNO’s executive director.

Now in a different direction, here’s a rather unusual opportunity.

Struggle Bus–Pizza Hut’s physical manifestation of the popularized phrase “I’m on the struggle bus today”— will make its debut stop in New Orleans this weekend for the Final Four Orleans so fans can stop by for FREE pizza, chill out, even take a power nap and hear soothing music. Just leaves your cares at the Struggle Bus. It will be parked at the corner of N. Peters and Bienville streets, Saturday through Sunday.

Social media users can follow the bus, Pizza Hut’s antidote to the daily struggle, as it tours the southeast on @pizzahut on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok and #PizzaHutStruggleBus.

A Cajun Gumbo Recipe and Free Pizza on The Struggle Bus
Official photo of The Struggle Bus provided by Pizza Hut

Here are a couple of recipes from Tuesday’s class to add to your weekend repertoire. Enjoy.

Creamy Gumbo Potato Salad for Gumbo

*Note: No eggs and no sweet pickle here. We keep this one simple so as not to clash with the gumbo.

Makes about 2 quarts

  • 2-1/2 pounds of Yukon Gold, Red Bliss, or Russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of finely minced onion
  • 1 large stalk of celery, chopped
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
  • 3/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of spicy Creole style mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Peel and cut the potatoes into a small dice. Boil until tender and crumbly, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Place into serving bowl and use a masher to partially mash them, leaving some chunks. Add the onion, celery, green onion, and parsley to the potatoes, toss. In a separate small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper. Spoon over the potatoes. Toss again until all the potatoes are coated, adding more mayonnaise to reached desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

To serve with gumbo, spoon gumbo into individual serving bowls, with or without rice. Add a large tablespoon of the potato salad right into the bowl. Can also serve on the side. Refrigerate leftovers.