I hope that all of you had a lovely Thanksgiving, or at least had a better experience than I did. I cooked a few dishes Wednesday night and packed them up to bring to my parents’ house, but then I started feeling ill. This culminated in around 4:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving, when my illness reached, shall we say, a fairly demonstrative apex. Whether the illness was viral or caused by something I ate is unconfirmed, but we suspected the former and ended up throwing out the stuffing and mashed potatoes I’d made. I stayed in bed the whole day and a good part of Friday as well. 

This was the first time I can recall being ill at Thanksgiving. It’s a particularly bad time to have a stomach bug, too, because of all our holidays it’s perhaps the one most associated with food. I mean, pretty much any holiday is associated with food in New Orleans, and non-holidays for that matter, but Thanksgiving has that reputation nationally. 

The only other time I can recall being laid low during a holiday is Christmas, about four years ago. I had been having back pain for a few weeks, but I assumed it would go away, so we drove up to my family’s home in Amite on Christmas Eve, where we celebrate Christmas every year. I was cooking early that evening when the pain became crippling, and I ended up having my first back surgery not too long thereafter. 

I’m looking forward to Christmas this year, and while I did have a recurrence of the back problem early this year (and a second surgery in March) I don’t plan on being out of commission for the holidays this time around. 

In other news, Freret Beer Room has opened after a brief delay involving permitting. I’ve known Eli Gay, the owner, since he was a kid, as his mother and uncle are partners in my law firm. I’m excited for him, and anxious to check out chef Charles Vincent’s menu. It’s a neat concept, too: a beer-centric, small plates restaurant. I live about a mile away, and can see it becoming a regular in my dining rotation. The alcohol permit is not in place yet, but that should change this weekend or Monday at the latest. Check the restaurant’s Facebook page for details.

I’ll be covering the place in more detail here and in an upcoming Restaurant Insider column, so look for more details soon. 

Jamaican food is under-represented in New Orleans, particularly considering our proximity to the Island nation. A new restaurant, 14 Parishes, has opened at 1638 Clio St. with an eye towards correcting that. The name is a reference to the 14 geographic subdivisions in the country, and many of the items on the menu are named after one of the parishes. As is the case with Freret Beer Room, I’ll be writing more about 14 Parishes shortly; if you’ve already been, please let me know how it was in the comments.