I'm writing this week from un-sunny Ohio, my homestate that I haven't been back to in far too long. I think that no matter how long you spend living in a place, you will always be a product of where you grew up. And for me, there will always be a part of me that kind of loves dark and dreary days and piles of snow. I might have complained about it while living in it, but after being in New Orleans for years, sometimes if there are too many days in a row of sunshine, I'll secretly wish for rain. I know that sounds really weird, but it's true.
But it's been a year since I've been back. My husband and I decided to take a little road trip for our first anniversary and we drove through Tuscaloosa (so he could give the evil-eye to Alabama while sporting purple and gold), Nashville and Bourbon Country, the landscape gradually changing from swampland and top-heavy trees to rolling hills and chillier air. It had been a year since visiting Ohio, but it had been even longer since I'd gone on a proper road trip, usually hopping on a plane instead in order to squeeze as much time as possible into my destination. But I think a lot of the time, you short-change yourself taking a plane. You miss out on all the good stuff in-between, and all the potential spontaneous adventures you never knew you were going to have.
The first thing we did when we came back to Ohio was have a mini crawfish boil with my parents. We brought Louisiana to Ohio by bringing up a few pounds of boiled crawfish in a cooler (ice chest). There wasn't any way we could feasibly drive with live crawfish, but figured we could steam them to reheat them. We also had a pot to boil corn, potatoes and sausage with plenty of spices and salt to make sure we had all the necessary components. It wasn't exactly like a real boil, but was about as close as you could get in Ohio.
It was also fun watching my Louisiana born and bred husband teach a bunch of Ohioans how to peel the little suckers, although I had to further instruct them on pulling out the vein. I know a lot of purists (like my husband) leave it all in tact, but I couldn't let my parents and their friends eat them without letting them in on what it was. I don't think we could get anyone to suck the heads though, which I think comes with a little experience. I remember having to work up to that particular practice, but now I do it without even thinking.
The funniest thing though, was watching my cousin mistake the head for the tail, try to peel the head and then eat whatever was in the head. Sometimes you just can't stop these things from happening. I know my husband had a pretty good laugh over it.
One of the things we debated about was how much crawfish to bring. My husband likes to overestimate because he can sit and eat them all day, but I knew if we brought a ton we'd have a million left-over crawfish to peel because there's no way a bunch of newbies are going to eat that many.
(my mom's reaction to crawfish … you can see the claws on the top left)
Plus, my mom only ate one. Like, one crawfish tail. My mom kind of hates seafood. Actually, when I told my New Orleans mother-in-law about this, she looked at me like I'd just said the most ridiculous thing she'd ever heard, like I told her my parents were aliens or something. And I suppose to a Louisianan, someone not liking seafood is pretty alien-like. But my mom is from New Mexico in a very land-locked area, and she grew up eating beans and tortillas. The fact that she actually even tried a crawfish tail was pretty amazing.
And in the end, even though we scaled way back what we would have bought for the same amount of people in New Orleans, we still had a lot left over. Of course, all the corn was gobbled up first, as this is Ohio we're talking about … and then all the sausage. Seriously, I know this might sound weird, but the best sausage is that Rickey Jackson smoked sausage. My family now wants me to bring piles of it up from New Orleans whenever I come home for a visit.
All left-overs are now being peeled for my dad to make some crawfish fettuccine at a later date.
The other thing that was a hit?
All this moonshine. The apple pie moonshine is the best thing ever.
And when we drive back to New Orleans in a few days, I'll be bringing back with me bits of Ohio. We'll of course be taking a few 6-ers of Yuengling with us as well as some cans of Skyline chili for some of my fellow Ohio transplants and maybe a new Ohio State Buckeye shirt. Or two. And maybe a new Ohio State Buckeye blanket, koozy and travel mug. And an Archie Griffen poster for the hallway.
Just kidding. I doubt my husband would let me take all this Buckeye stuff past the Ohio River.
The great thing about road trips though, is being able to bring whatever you want, to and from. The best of both worlds. The little pieces of the home that you grew up in and the little pieces of the home that you've adopted.