It’s Never Too Early to Plan
Social networking – I’ll admit it’s a term I don’t completely understand. By definition it implies that there is such a thing as non-social networking, which of course is an impossibility. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the growing food crazy public (known as “foodies”) began to come together in ways previously only explored by internet geeks and college IT students. So what is a “foodie”? Basically, it’s like a Trekkie but with social skills and exotic tastes in cuisine. Ergo, the evolution of foodie social networking was inevitable. Welcome to the world of foodbuzz.com.
In a nutshell (no food related pun intended), Foodbuzz is a website where lovers of food, drinking, cooking and the culinary arts can post recipes, share ideas, review restaurants, and blog themselves into a virtual sugar coma. You can post directly onto foodbuzz.com or simply provide a link to your existing blog’s RSS feed. If you find a user’s blog you particularly enjoy, subscribe to it making you and the blogger “friends” in foodbuzz speak. If you happen to click on a non-working link, you are likely to see what passes for Foodbuzz’s HTML humor as the error message reads “Oh no, our soufflé has collapsed!” The way I see it, you have the choice of spending all your time on Googgle looking for interesting food blogs, or you can cut to the chase and become a (free) member of the foodbuzz community. Which brings me to Chef Ryan Boudreaux of New Orleans.
Everyone who knows me, or anyone who has become familiar with me through this blog, has heard about our annual tailgate party at the High Hope Steeplechase. Held in Lexington every May on the Sunday after the Preakness, it’s been a tradition for my family and friends for almost a decade. Details of our past adventures (culinary and otherwise) can be found on the Tailgating Steeplechase Style page. The party annually feeds between 40 and 50 people, and the cooking team consists of myself and one other person. It takes a solid five months to plan and our goal is always to have as many original recipes (or interpretations of recipes) as possible. It has become a tradition at the conclusion of each year’s party to announce the theme for the following year, so it was as we wrapped up 2008’s “Let Me Take You Down To Cabo” tailgate and celebrated our third “Best Food” award (fourth award overall) that the 2009 theme was revealed. It would be a New Orleans inspired “Party at Congo Square”, named after the traditional square where African slaves met on Sunday’s for music and dancing. Much of New Orleans’ musical heritage can trace its roots back to these meetings at Congo Square.
So with some down time in the evenings this week, and while the rest of the country was planning Thanksgiving dinner, I started what for me will be a many month long journey of exploration into the cuisine and culture of New Orleans, culminating on the 17th of May with what I hope will be another memorable party. It’s not as simple as preparing the most well known dishes of the Big Easy – they have to be tailgate compatible, meaning they must accommodate being prepped in advance the night before (or in the wee hours of the morning as is more usual) and then being cooked and served from a potable kitchen consisting of two gas grills, a smaller propane fueled camping stove, five coolers filled with food and a small table which serves as my mobile mis en place. Being in my ninth year of doing this I’ve figured out how to make it all work, but it still takes a lot of planning and preparation. I also have no problem with adopting another person’s good idea (properly credited of course). It was with this in mind that I contacted Chef Ryan Boudreaux whose blog at http://cajunchefryan.rymocs.com/blog2/ I discovered via Foodbuzz. What, I inquired, would he suggest as some quintessential New Orleans dishes that might work well on a tailgate menu? Chef Ryan turned out to be someone more than willing to offer suggestions and the benefit of his years of experience in the New Orleans restaurant industry. His responses to my inquiry were enthusiastic, friendly and detailed. You can read more on his blog post “New Orleans Tailgating Themes” at:
Which, if any, of his suggestions will end up on the final menu next May? Well, tune in around mid April for the official menu reveal (maybe I can hire out Ty Pennington for it). Regardless, it’s good to know there is a community of dedicated food lovers that sees sharing information, ideas and recipes as part of the whole food experience. Thanks again to Chef Ryan.
As for the tailgate party, if you happen to find yourself in Lexington on the 17th of May, you know where to find us. Just look for the only Mardi Gras party in town. And follow your nose to the food.
For more information on the High Hope Steeplechase and the charities it supports, check out the website at www.highhopesteeplechase.com.