|Mr. Okra's truck|
There've been signs cropping up on the roads for the last couple of weeks advertising fish fries at local churches. In general, they haven't registered with me - I see them on the way to class and don't think about it.
But it is Spring Break right now. Thursday night, around 5:00 pm, I came home to find a tag on my front doorknob. It was from the City's sewer contractor, warning me that on Friday - March 25 - I would be unable to run water down my drains between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm.
Friday morning I woke up at seven and took a quick shower. The sewer trucks were already out in the street, swarmed with men in day-glo vests. Huge vehicles crept back and forth, When I used the toilet, I just closed the lid, but I have to say the constraint managed to repress certain impulses.
At one point in the morning, I looked out to see clouds of steam wafting up from the storm sewer grate. Around noon Jack and I took our walk. He, of course, had no such limitations on his functions.
We walked on the levee, under a clear blue sky, watching a barge come through the locks. It was a beautiful day. Jack investigated a beautiful growth of oenothera bierlanderi, or Mexican evening primrose, growing near a low swampy area.
I had a dental appointment up on St. Claude Avenue, later in the afternoon, and on my way back down Lesseps Street I encountered my friend Linda. She was carrying a plastic bag with a couple of styrofoam carry-out containers.
"They're having a fish fry at BJ's," she said, referring to a local corner bar. "I'm going home and working on my house, and then I'm going to eat. And then I'm going to fall asleep."
Several of the regulars were playing guitar and singing out on the smoking bench, and children were playing touch football in the street. Mr.Okra drove by in his decorated produce truck. A local artist parked her antique bike out front and went inside to hawk her hand-made beer coozies.
One of the bench sitters had a fish dinner delivered from BJ's. He gave me a taste - it was so good I knew I would go buy one for myself later. Another bench sitter bought a coozie. I heard a story about who the artist got her bike from. I heard another story about the Okra Man's truck.
There were a lot of stories told yesterday afternoon. I sat on the bench, nursing a glass of wine, listening to the stories and the music, until it was close to five o'clock. Then I headed over to BJ's for a fish dinner to go.
BJ's was more lively. The fish dinner was to benefit some local cause, I'm not sure what. The fish was fried to order; "You got time to have a drink while you wait, darlin'," said the woman taking the money.
"That's all right, I had a couple down the street already," I told her. "My friend down at Vaughan's gave me a taste of his fish fry, so I knew I had to come up here." I sipped a glass of water and sat by the window, looking out at the still sunny street.
|Fried fish fillet, mac and cheese, cole slaw|
The fish was delicious, breaded in corn meal that had a cayenne zing to it. The flesh was flaky and moist. I squeezed the lemons over it, and ate it with my fingers.
Outside, my neighbor's stereo was playing some sweet rhythm and blues music, and I could hear the spring birds singing.
It was a Good Friday indeed.