During the years I lived away from New Orleans, I was homesick for just about everything, but I found, in time, ways to soothe the physical ache that came from being so far away. When I missed the music, I’d pop in a CD my dad had made me that was full of Marcia Ball, the Radiators, Dr. John, Professor Longhair. When I missed the humidity, I would go sit in the Climatron greenhouse in St. Louis’ Botanical Gardens. When I missed the food, I was on my own – all of the “New Orleans-style” restaurants were sorely lacking – but I soon learned to make jambalaya, gumbo and red beans that were good enough to hold me over for awhile.
But when I wanted a snowball? I just had to breathe deeply and wait for the craving to pass. Because there is nothing even close to a New Orleans-style snowball in the Midwest, and snow cones only made me angry: crunchy balls of ice drenched in too-sweet syrup in uninspired flavors. Taking a bite made your teeth hurt; eating them was too much like work.
This is my fourth summer back in the city where I was raised, and I haven’t even come close to getting sick of snowballs yet.
There are plenty of ways to stay cool in the summertime but none so simple and cheap as a cup of brightly colored shaved ice. And in those moments when sweat is soaking through your clothes and pouring down your face and you’re swearing that you’re going to move to Maine or Alaska, just remember: They have snow there – but not snowballs.
Happy summer! Stay cool!