My family and I recently got back from a long weekend in New Orleans. Joining us on our adventure were my father-in-law and mother-in-law. My son had two days off from school – teacher-in-service and Presidents day – so we all decided to make it a mini-family vacation. Prior to leaving for our trip there were multiple emails exchanged with copious discussion on where and what we were going to eat. Admittedly, I was unaware that NOLA was such a culinary hub. My ignorance was quickly corrected as prior to our leaving, my father-in-law typed up an itinerary to identify which days and at which restaurants we would be dining. In essence, it appeared that we would be eating our way to New Orleans, through New Orleans and munch our way back home.
I have not been gifted with a cast-iron stomach. Or, to put it in simpler terms…I cannot eat anything I want…unless I want to wash various culinary masterpieces down with a bottle of Gaviscon, a few Pepto pills and a couple of ibuprofen. My husband, on the other hand, can eat anything…ANYTHING. He just got back from an overseas business trip and shared with me all manner of things that he ate. Duck tongue. Blow fish. Incredible dishes made with the most exotic ingredients and served by the most amazing people. I am jealous. For me to venture into the world of exotic eating means switching out Raisin Bran for Shredded Wheat. That’s pushing the envelope in my world.
I say all of this because leading up to our trip I became apprehensive about what I was going to eat. I began listing out in my mind what pain medications or antacids I need to be sure to bring in my suitcase. I started obsessing about what foods I should be sure to stay away from. I did some online research to understand what ingredients are typically used in Creole food. I researched the restaurants and their menus so I could understand if they had anything I should stay away from. I went into anti-nausea, anti-diarrhea, & anti-heartburn combat mode.
I picked up my in-laws from the airport and the next morning we all piled into the car and headed out. I brought my camera because…well, it was a family vacation and you just never know what might end up being a Kodak moment. Our trip took us through restaurants with fried gator tails, etouffee, home-made cheesecake (where they make their own cheese for the cake), molasses bourbon cake with whipping cream sauce, eggs hussarde, eggs benedict, chicory coffee, local ales, oysters on the half shell, deep fried soft shell crab, fried catfish, beignets, sweet potato fries and mudbugs (crawfish). I ate dessert at breakfast time and enjoyed beignets after evening church. I took pictures of food, drinks, sauces, restaurant signs, street performers, historic landmarks, and smiling faces.
As the trip went on all my fears melted away and I began to enjoy the moment for exactly what it was. Different. New food. New place. Historical places. New memories to make. Sometimes I wonder if we are the reason we can’t enjoy life. We worry. We obsesses. We make rules. We create confines and in these confines we are comfortable. We don’t want anything that breaks these boundaries because these boundaries make us feel safe. I wonder if these boundaries that we place on ourselves are what keep us from experiencing all the goodness that God wants to give us. God has already made His boundaries clear for us in scripture. It is NOT our job to create new or more rules but instead to live by the grace He showed us through Christ.
At the end of our trip and aside from the routine medication I take for my MS, I didn’t take any other stomach medication or otherwise. I enjoyed all the flavors and all the characters I met. I delighted in the fellowship of my family. I enjoyed wonderful belly laughs watching my family indulge in food. I relaxed and moved in the rhythm of the ‘Big Easy’ and it was beautiful.