Let’s Talk Gumbo

As the year comes to an end, as well as this marks my second year of my move home to New Orleans, I noticed that it has been a year of Gumbo Controversy.. Social media has been ablaze with Gumbo post and never-ending comments, yesterday I decided to jump on the bandwagon and some fuel of my own. I went live on Facebook, entitling my Vlog “Let’s Talk Gumbo” while I cooked my Momo’s Gumbo recipe.

Gumbo to New Orleans, well Louisiana is like Chili to Texas. I dare someone debate a Texan on what chili is, but as with everything else native of New Orleans, Louisiana the attempt to replicate it does not produce or shall I say in this case, “taste like New Orleans” cuisine. People living outside of Louisiana love our culture to the point of taking it and while taking it they will tell you how to do it. For instance, I know I am not the only New Orleanian who was told that she is saying “New Orleans” wrong?? If I say “N’awlins” I am corrected to pronounce every alphabet in New Orleans to satisfy them… My N’awlins tongue was under attack and corrected throughout my stay in Minnesota. To them my New Orleans tongue, dialect was a sign of ignorance, but it was actually the complete opposite.

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My Momo Gumbo recipe 2016

Well back to Gumbo… There’s no definite proof that Gumbo originated from New Orleans, especially being that Louisiana is actually a big pot of Gumbo, our ancestors, our people come from all parts of the world, with blended cultures. Gumbo essentially means the blending of several ingredients in one pot with the result of a taste that is deliciously indescribable as with our people. The dish itself is a mixture of French, German, Italian, and African cooking traditions. While scholars are relatively uncertain of the exact origin of the food, it is widely accepted that its etymology stemmed from the word okra in West African.

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New Orleans was established in 1718 and quickly became the first French colony in Louisiana. Soon it became one of the most diverse and culturally rich environments in the United States. Germans migrated there in the beginning of the 18th century and introduced the art of sausage making.  Spaniards settled there in the middle of the 18th century and brought with them their love of spices and their fisherman abilities. By the beginning of the 19th century, most families in New Orleans purchased slaves, who brought with them okra and hot pepper plants from Africa.

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In several West African languages, the word for okra is ki ngombo, or, in its shortened form, gombo.” Early on, the word was frequently used alongside “okra” by English writers. In the 1840s, when okra was just starting to be grown widely outside the coastal South, newspaper ads commonly offered seeds for “Okra or Gombo.” “Gombo” is still the French word for okra today.

The roots of gumbo do run deep in Louisiana. Enslaved Africans were brought to the French colony in large numbers starting in 1719, and by 1721 more than half the residents of New Orleans were African. The first known reference to gumbo as a dish was uncovered by historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, who found a handwritten transcription of the interrogation of a 50-year-old slave named Comba in New Orleans in 1764. Suspected of being associated with other slaves who had stolen clothes and a pig, Comba is asked whether she had given a slave named Louis un gombeau, and she replies that she did.

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Though well entrenched in Louisiana, gumbo was by no means a dish unique to that region. Indeed, during the colonial era and the early 19th century, similar okra-based stews and soups could be found anywhere a large number of enslaved Africans and their descendants lived—and, in fact, those dishes can still be found there today.

Tracing gumbo’s roots is complicated by the fact that no African-Americans recorded their recipes in cookbooks until after the Civil War, but in the early 19th century, recipes for gumbo started to pop up in writings by white authors. In 1817, the American Star of Petersburg, Virginia, ran an article describing okra, which it noted “is common in the West Indies.” It provided two recipes. In the first, an equal amount of cut okra and tomatoes are stewed with onions, butter, and salt and pepper. In the other, okra is stewed in water and dressed with butter. “At St. Domingo,” the writer notes, “they are called gambo.”

Mary Randolph included a similar recipe for “Gumbo—A West India Dish” in The Virginia House-Wife (1824): okra stewed in water and served with melted butter. An 1831 article on okra in the New England Farmer noted the plant’s “known reputation in the West Indies” and that, “a very celebrated dish, called Gombo, is prepared in those countries where okra is grown, by mixing with the green pods, ripe tomatoes, and onions; all chopped fine, to which are added pepper and salt, and the whole stewed.” The 1841 edition of Webster’s Dictionary defined gumbo as “A dish of food made of young capsules of ocra, with salt and pepper, stewed and served with melted butter.”

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Chef Rodney

In the mid 19th century, gumbo shifted from being a dish associated with the West Indies to one associated with New Orleans, perhaps thanks to the extent to which cooks and diners of all races had embraced it in Louisiana. The cookbook, Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Carbell Tyree, was published in 1879 and contains the first known gumbo recipe. This gumbo was filé-based and utilized oysters, chicken, spices, and vegetables. Since then, there have been many different recipes for gumbo, which include chicken, seafood, and sausage, and are thickened by pods of okra, roux, and filé powder.

Speaking of File’ which in my opinion is the reason we, New Orleanians stake claim as the rightful owners of Gumbo, especially “New Orleans Gumbo.” One can not go into any grocery store outside of Louisiana to purchase File’. Why is that? File’ is only used in Gumbo here in Louisiana, but if you know of any other recipes calling for File’ please correct me.

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Another theory contends that gumbo originated with Native Americans. That idea draws support from the use of the ground sassafras called File’powder as a thickening agent in some gumbos. According to this account, File’ was introduced to the French by the Choctaws, whose word for sassafras was kombo. The establishment of New Orleans in 1718 marked the beginning of the French colony of Louisiana. French settlers allied with various native tribes including the Choctaw, Alabama, and Cherokee, from whom they learned new methods of cooking and ways to identify edible indigenous plants. 

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We can agree that the Natives where here first, therefore with the use of File’ being noted in the 1700’s we can safely assume that Native Tribes of Louisiana could have been the originators??

Recipes for gumbos made with filé start appearing in print just before the Civil War, suggesting that using powdered sassafras as thickener was starting to spread outside of Louisiana. The Carolina Housewife (1847) includes a recipe for “Okra Soup” made with beef, okra, and tomatoes, as well as one for “New Orleans Gumbo” made with turkey or fowl and onion, to which a hundred oysters and “two teaspoons of pulverized sassafras leaves” are added. A similar chicken-based “Filet gumbo,” thickened with filé powder, appears in Miss Leslie’s New Cookery Book (1857).

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So here we are, with a West African dish having taken firm root in the American South, most deeply in Louisiana but with a significant footprint in other coastal areas, too. That footprint can still be found today outside of Louisiana, though many diners may not necessarily make a connection between it and Louisiana-style gumbo. When considering gumbo’s broader impact on the South, it helps to look to regions beyond Louisiana, such as the coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina.

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A lot of okra-based dishes in Gullah Geechee cuisine likely have a direct link to 19th century “gombo.” Many involve a thick tomato-based sauce in which meat or seafood are cooked along with onions, spices, and, of course, okra. There are plenty of recipes for “okra and tomatoes” and “shrimp and okra”, too, that are almost identical to the more basic gumbo recipes being published in the 1820s and 1830s.



Traditionally, gumbos have been divided into two large categories—those thickened with okra and those thickened with filé. According to some accounts, before the advent of refrigeration and freezers, okra was the preferred thickening agent for gumbo, while filé was a substitute used only in the off-season when okra wasn’t available. That sounds plausible, but I’ve also come across references to dried okra as an ingredient in 19th-century gumbos. By drying okra, cooks could use it in their gumbos year round.

In some respects, putting gumbo into either an okra or a filé category is still valid, but for many cooks, a brown roux is the only thickener, and filé has virtually disappeared from their recipes. Often roux-based gumbos do incorporate filé, and to my taste they are the better for it. Filé is used both for thickening and for flavor. It is usually added to a gumbo just before serving, or at the table. Many okra gumbos also incorporate a brown roux and some roux-based gumbo contain a small amount of okra, often cooked until it virtually dissolves.

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If all those variations aren’t confusing enough, there are also raging controversies over what constitutes a proper gumbo roux. Roux, of course, is flour that has been browned in oil or some other fat and has its origin in French cuisine.

As I mentioned in my Vlog, I use all three. I start with my roux, which has a very dark caramel color and compliments my three stocks of shrimp, chicken and gizzards. What I do not understand is why most people steer away from making a roux? I have heard various excuses one being that it takes too much time. I recall Emeril stating on his show years ago, ” How I judge the right color for the roux for the perfect gumbo. Is two beers, it’s generally the time that it takes to having the perfect roux. And on Sunday sometimes when I really wanna sprawl myself I purposely burn the roux so I can have another two beers and start again.” That doesn’t sound like a long time to me, a lil cocktail will make time go by with ease.


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Lafcadio Hearn’s La Cuisine Creole, published in 1885, contains recipes for several gumbos made from a variety of ingredients—chicken, ham, bacon, oysters, crab, shrimp, and beef, among them. Some of the recipes are made with okra, others with filé. Although there is no mention of a roux in any of the recipes, some of them call for the addition of flour or browned flour as a thickener. Recipes vary according to the cook, I believe the best Gumbo has a roux.

Aside from the origin of Gumbo, what has been the heat of the Gumbo controversy is what to put in it beyond the normal… At one point the use of tomatoes was at the center of the Gumbo debate. Tomatoes are most often found in okra gumbos, but I’ve had roux-based seafood gumbo that also contained tomato. Recently,  the raw eggs being poured into a boiling pot of stock has gone viral on social media. Now, I’m seeing recipes with boiled eggs. Why?  Experience has taught me, if you drop raw eggs into hot liquid the eggs will cook. Why is this an exception? It seems to me that it should be considered an Egg Drop Soup and Not Gumbo.. Please do not call that Gumbo. The matter of the boiled eggs, I love Yaka Mein which consist of a rich deep stock made of beef, steak or stew meat, served over noodles with an accompany of chopped green onions, boiled eggs and a dose of soy,  Worcestershire and hot sauce, not sure how boiled eggs factor in Gumbo.

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There’s also a  Lenten gumbo z’herbes, which is made with a variety of greens.

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What I have found is that we are not certain of the origins of Gumbo, but maybe it’s just that, GUMBO. Gumbo as I stated is a combination of several things coming together in perfect harmony resulting in delicious blend of cultural goodness.

The Gumbo Controversy, Gumbo War, Gumbo Debate has been a heated topic for years, we all think ours is the best, stand by our recipes and not only will we tell you that you are not making Gumbo the correct way, but we will never try your Gumbo. LOL

The one thing that we can agree on is that you can not have Gumbo without White Rice… With that good night.

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My Momo recipe, I made this pot yesterday


Living without my Daddy at Christmas 

I try not to remember what happened Christmas Eve 2003. I tried my best over the years to not let it be the anniversary of my final conversation with my Daddy. I attempted for years to be all that symbolizes this holiday season  for the sake of my children and grandchildren. 

It wld be the final time my Daddy would be intubated and his final intelligible conversation that resulted in his last wishes for the doctor to override our feelings and he declined to be intubated. I recall he said, “Please do not put that tube down my throat, it was horrible, I wasn’t at peace.” I ran into the bathroom to hid my pain, my broken heart, my tears, but he was my Daddy and there was no hiding from him. He sent my auntie to retrieve me from my hiding space and he sat on the bed with his arms extended to embrace me. I felt like that little baby girl he would claim was on the floor the night I was allowed to stay with him in the ICU due to a nursing shortage, he needed supervision and I thought I was qualified to be my Daddy’s nurse…Wrong wrong wrong, I regret staying. 

I would spend the night watching in agony and a tiny bit of happiness as my Daddy pulled the breathing tube from him lungs and mouth, pulling off his hospital gown off along with every tube and cord from his body as he stood with his huge 6ft4in frame, delirious from the morphine and his brain being eaten away by the cancer. He was shouting at the male nurse to get his baby off the floor. I was that baby, but I was a 29yr old young mother of two and I was laying on the lounging chair with a flood of tears that made their release thru my eyes. What prevented me from all out losing it was that he somehow willed himself from his induced como to talk, get out the bed, walk and for a couple hours I had my Daddy back. 

Within those hours I decided to not believe the doctors who said he had maybe a few weeks left. I was on the phone with evey organization in the world, but the moment I told them he had stage 4 lung cancer that spread to his bones and brain, the staff I spoke to over the phone informed me that I needed to accept his doctor’s prognosis. Looking back, I was an educated nursing professional who was very much in denial, but this was my life, not my patient. It was my Daddy, my family on the end of medical chart, which I read and did not accept that my Daddy was at the end of his life.

When I went over to him after my hide and seek episode, he wiped my tears and grabbed my cheeks, turning my face to look out the window and he said, “Deatra, the sun will always shine, it shines even when its dark or raining and it will shine when I’m gone and you will be ok, because the sun will always shine.” He was intubated a couple hours later, I spent Christmas with him at the hospital, someone brought me some food that I picked over, but I was happy just to be with him. It may have been selfish, but it was just me and my Daddy and I believe his last words to me and spending one on one time with him after that horrible night in the ICU, helped me heal and move pass seeing him like that. What daughter, child no matter the age wants to see their parents undressed, discombobulated, angry and sick on their death bed, I experienced all of that and more in a minutes on Christmas Eve. As you can imagine it took me years to grieve, but today I can write and speak about how I made it to be able to not only celebrate with my family and friends, but I can finally share my last moments with my Daddy without busting out in tears. 

I no longer run and hid during the Christmas season, because of the timing of my Daddy’s death. I know he would want me to celebrate with my family and friends and be happy. I am and the sun is shining and my Daddy lives in my heart. 


Love and Dedication by Naye Davis

Professing love and dedication to each other is easy. The sad part is, only during our worst times will we ever have an opportunity to determine if this Love & dedication is true. 

It’s extremely rare to encounter an experience that ever puts true love to the test! 

It is even harder to find a couple who had the opportunity and endured. 

To find someone who has proven to u that all of their promises and words are true & they give u everything they have in your hardest times, that’s something special, valuable and rare. 

A person who disregards that kind of love, does so because they know that they dont deserve your devotion. They know that they don’t deserve you!

Did you know my Daddy, Nola Businessman, George Albert Price

Hi, with the growth of my Nola Life page it was put on my heart to ask if you all know any of my relatives and friends of my Daddy, George Albert Price. 

My Daddy was a well known New Orleanian Businessman, loved by many people. There was an overwhelming amount of people in attendance at his funeral, sharing their love and stories of him,  but Im pretty sure that represents a small percentage of those who knew him. I’m hoping someone out there knows of someone who knew him. 

I’m pretty sure one of you had your hair done by him or even knew him from his work in the community and church. Back in the late 70s in the Desire Project he assisted people with jobs, my Mama was one of those people.  Y’all have to help me find my family and connect with those who knew him, please. 

My life is taking me to a place where I know my Daddy would have been to guide, support and protect me.

My Daddy owned the 1st Black Beauty Salon on Canal St, a block from Krauss and blocks away from the former Iberville Projects. He named his 1st location, at 1405 Canal St after my favorite snack “Raisins” I was the only child who would eat Raisin Bran and would eat the raisins out of cereal box when I didn’t want the bran part. 

He owned two salons Raisin’s as stated above on Canal St. He sold it to Jeanne’s which was the new name of the salon and also Element’s of Style on Franklin. 

As a little girl I remember playing around on the salon’s wooden stage at Raisin’s, spinning around in the chair as he pumped it to its highest state. I can still smell the hot irons, feel the heat from the burning hot hair dryers and hear the the phone constantly ringing.

He would make sure that everyone knew we was “George Price’s daughters.”I remember being a teen catching the bus and the bus driver asked “Are you by chance George Price daughter?” I never met this bus driver,I thought to myself and he calling me the child of the correct man. I was blown away. He informed me he met me and saw me  out with my father several times when I was younger and I looked just like my Daddy then and now. lol. Back then being a teengirl, I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing..to look like my Daddy who was a boy in essence. I was elated that my Daddy was so popular then and kept that moment close to my heart.

My Daddy was the Ultimate Entrepreneur, very dedicated to his craft, always learning and teaching.He worked with Bonner Brothers as well, he was always on top of the Beauty Industry and Business World. He loved his career that he made for himself, he beemed of pride, head always high; his tall big stature commanded respect 

My Mama declined on my Daddy’s marriage proposal a few years after the birth of my little sister and they shared parental custody. Our visits would always start out at the shop, always. He was always working, that’s the life of being self employed. I didn’t mind being in the shop at all, I actually benefited from it. His work ethics and passion prepared me for my future and made me a better businesswoman.

Almost 2 years after his death Katrina destroyed the beginning stages of reuniting with my Daddy’s side of the family. His family originated from the 9th Ward, most of them continued living in the area throughout their lives and Katrina forced them out. I was in contact with his sister my Aunt, Janice Thomas and Claudette, but haven’t heard from anyone since Katrina. It didn’t help that I lived in Minnesota and I left Nola when I was 18yrs old, so I didn’t have a solid bond with his side of the family as it was,  but I would to have some kind of relationship with them now. I know it may be awkward in the beginning, but we are technically family and we can make it work. Seeing stories of reunification on TV can go either way, but it’s not like we do not know we exist. I met my aunts and uncles early in life and have memories. I can remember hugs from my Grandmother, sitting in her kitchen and I remember playing with a boy cousin who was a little older than me. 

 I want my kids and grandkids to know my Daddy’s side of the family. I want my son, grandsons and nephew to hear the stories of his life, so they can see the similarities they have with their GrandPapa. They were so young, but I’m happy my Daddy knew his grandkids and spent time with them prior to his death. 

My Daddy didn’t have any son’s and he was so happy to have grandsons and it hurt him that we lived way in Minnesota.  On a visit here to New Orleans he took us all out to my favorite restaurant, Copelands, he got the private area so his grandkids could be themselves and they were. I remember how different he was with his grandsons than with us, girls when we were younger. My son, now college basketball player, Keenen was throwing his ball across the room, jumping out of his chair, rolling on the floor and I attempted to chastise him, knowing that my Daddy would do it if I didnt, but no I got in trouble for trying to stop him… “Let, Keenen be” he said, my mouth is still opened in shock and disbelief. I just knew we had more of these moments to come. 

 I have two grandsons and my daughter gifted me with the opportunity to name my 2nd grandson after my Daddy “George Anthony” Albert was a bit too old-fashioned for her, but my Daddy’s name although not Price will continue on as his Legacy. If anything, we have his name and our memories, which are priceless and irreplaceable, but I yearn to know my family. 

I lost lots of pictures and mementos of My Daddy after Katrina, my Momo’s house was totally destroyed and she had my album and babybook. I reached out to his wife in attempt to get a basketball trophy, tie, our pictures, even the ugly quilt I made with my own hands. I sent the quilt and a picture mug of My sister and I on an elephant at Audubon Zoo with my Daddy standing on side of it as a Father’s Day present one year, it would have meant alot to at least have something I gifted him, or anything to pass on to my children. I have one faded pic of my Daddy and a short note he signed, Love always your one and only Daddy.” I wish I could have a color picture of my Daddy.  My sister and I were left with the casket awnings which had golf clubs on it. Not sure what symbolic purpose these ceramics golf club paper weights has to anyone else, but this was the keepsake of George Price departing his daughter’s lives, the corner pieces of a coffin…..

It would be wonderful if his widow is in a good place in life where, if she has a lil trinket or something of my Daddy’s that my son, grandsons and nephew can have, but most importantly I want them to develop a bond with his brothers, nephews and male friends. Well, you know everyone even the women, but the men stand out for me, because as I said my Daddy had girls, his namesake ended with us getting married, with the exception of my George Anthony, who is deserving of more than our version of who he was named after. 

As with lots of death, his wife and I became estranged immediately after he was pronounced dead at the hospital. The reasoning for our dissolution would cause distress, shame, embarrassment, heartache if my Daddy was alive. Even in death, who and what my Daddy was did not equate to how we were treated, it was disgraceful, distasteful, insensitive and unloving.  I’m finally breaking  my silent pain,  I know my Daddy loved me and my sister and it’s time that the world be reminded of that.  

 I came down from Minnesota days prior to Christmas, leaving my young children behind to be at his side in his last days. At that time, my money was tight after a huge shopping spree and I was newly divorced. I purchased a oneway ticket after hearing he had a short time to live and my Daddy told me he would get me back. I’m thinking he didn’t believe the report or did not understand being that the cancer spread to his brain, but my Daddy told me to come and he would take care of everything. There was nothing I needed to  question or worry about, so I came to be with My Daddy.

As I mentioned things got bad with his wife and myself, which left my sister and I with the task of figuring out how we would get back home after his funeral. I do not remember who, but a couple, husband and wife gifted my sister and I with 1st class airline tickets home a few days after the funeral after hearing his wife refused to help us. It would be a blessing to meet them in person and thank them once again. 

My Momo was still living and we stayed with her throughout our stay, but I thought we would stay with his wife at their house. Initially, we were having a nice time bonding in my Daddy’s hospital room, we talked like girlfriends, I actually enjoyed her company. I noticed a change a few days later. In planning the funeral she offered that my sister and I be involved in furneral arrangements, such as picking out the colors, his suit and etc, everything we suggested was shot down easily, with a sly sounding No, I disagree. We left towards the end, feeling more like unwanted stepkids and even not my Daddy’s girls, but behaved as he would expected even hiding our pain from her.

Prior to exiting the funeral home, we made arrangements for limo pick up and my family, my Daddy’s family and friends were  surprised to hear that we weren’t at my Daddy’s house, their house. She never extended the offer to stay with her, there was room, she was home alone. At this time, her daughter, my stepsister lived in her own home, but we where denied the chance to be in his home, to have comfort in his home, in his living space, it reminded me of my youth.  As each person continued to asked about our living arrangements, I continued to have flashbacks,  the pain of rejection bubbled over until  it felt like my heart exploded, eventually anger replaced the hurt and honestly it felt good to be mad.

 To add insult to my already injured heart and soul, she did not speak to us at the funeral , we did not walk in with her and her daughter. We where like nobodies at my own Daddy’s funeral, our tears and pain was even invisible to her. If it wasn’t for my Momo being with us, my sister and I would have rode alone in the 10 passenger limousine to his funeral, but at least we had the option to be brought back to my Momo house immediately.

 Most of my family left New Orleans and the few that were here drove themselves to the church thinking, we were with his wife and daughter. My Mama had to stay with our children. I’m so happy that My Mama and Daddy raised us to be there for each other, because if it wasn’t for us, we would have been alone. It was a horrible, sad feeling. We attempted to stay for the repass, but there was not a place for us to sit. 

We did not have an assigned seating as the immediate family does or maybe, our names were with my Daddy’s side. I think within the emotional moments, those who could have looked out for us, were hurting themselves. It was very crowded too, Im thinking the church staff may have not been aware that we where there with just two relatives of our own, we were from out of town, inside huge church full of ggrieving people we barely knew or knew at all. 

My aunt and uncle reached out to us the next day apologizing for not being able to attend to us, told me we weren’t forgotten and apologized for how we were treated by his wife. That helped some. 

I finally had the opportunity to express my feelings, my the heartbreaking pain of feeling like Cinderella before the ball. In essence I had been Cinderella and she the mean ole stepmother awaiting for my Daddy death to finally show her hate towards his child, who did her nothing except love my Daddy.

We had a fuss at my Aunts house when I asked about getting home and why we couldn’t stay at the house. I recall her saying the floor in the den was being worked on, but it wasn’t a  good enough reason why, well not for me anyway. Then she told me she wasn’t buying our tickets back to Minnesota and how she had to find out how My Daddy supplied me and my sister with gifts and financial assistance over the years. 

She threw in my face that My Daddy did not consult with her about the Home Depot account he gave me access to so that I can purchase appliances for my new home after my divorce or had knowledge about the money he sent us. Mind you I told her this information at the hospital, in my Daddy’s room while he lay there dying. I was sharing memories with her about my Daddy only to have her throw it in my face.. Then add that she was not buying us tickets, because of all he done for us, that angered me… 

“You and your sister need to figure out how y’all getting home, because Your Daddy did not leave anything for yall, he didn’t have no insurance for yall and now I have to find all these accounts for washing machines, items he brought for yall behind my back, pay his medical bills and etc” she said sarcastically. All I remember saying, well shouting as my sister calmly said “Dee forget about her, Daddy loved us” as she pulled me out of the kitchen and out of my aunts house as I shouted  ” My Daddy loved me! What you mean he didn’t leave anything for Us! My Daddy was a businessman, that don’t make no sense! I know he at least have a credit card open ro get us home to our children! My Daddy told me he would get us home! My Daddy said come! I took some of my kids Christmas toys back to be with My Daddy!” I felt as if I had to defend my Daddy’s love and honor toward for us. My Daddy wasn’t a deadbeat Dad, he wasn’t an absent father, my Daddy provided everything a Daddy suppose to supply to his children. What this lady was telling me did not make any sense.

To this day I do not understand why she treated us like so, having a stepson and dating men with children, I do not understand her anger at us… Even though we were older and had children, we were still his children, his daughters and her stepdaughters. I forgive her without the need of seeing or hearing from her over the years, but it would be nice to know why she treated us like that. If My Daddy did go behind her back, that had nothing to do with us.. Her actions made me a better stepmother and friend to the children who came into my life. 

There is the unresolved  matter of her trying trick us to sign our legal rights over to her after Katrina, regarding the house they shared. We were served by her attorney  in Minnesota in early 2007 stating that Road Home informed her to get our signatures to in order to rebuild. If I had not paid attention to the Life Lessons provided by my Mama, Daddy, Family members and college,  we could have been easily tricked into signing it. Statements such as relieving you of fines, penalties, upkeep and etc where heavily written and outlined in the notice. Her statements and treatment  prior to laying my Daddy to rest, made it super easy for us to say No, we declined to sign even to this day. I have drove to the empty lot, got out of the car, walked around and look at the nothing my Daddy left behind for us and I’m ok with it.

He gave and showed me nothing, but the best, My Daddy loved us and I feel his love in spirit today, always. He instilled the power of loving and taking pride in who we were while we were babies. Chocolate kinky headed Daddy’s Princesses is what we were, plus I was a  offical Daddy’s Girl. I thought I was Princess Tiana before Disney even thought of her. I say this, because any book that had a Princess in it, be it Snow White or Cinderella, my name was not just written in, but the whole book was remade, retype with my name “Deatra” I seriously thought I was Snow White when I was a little girl, especially being that I loved Candied Apples and my Daddy nicknamed me “Applehead.” His wife ended up being the evil witch with the poisonous apples she knew I would eat, because they were my favorite.

He kept my sister and I dressed with designer dresses and shoes, the works. As I look over pictures from my youth, I’m reminded of how much he loved us. One would think our Mama dressed us, but Nope my Daddy picked out our clothes, he combed our hair and cooked delicious fancy food for us, setting the table with China, crystal and candles, he treated us well. We dined at the best too. When it was just us, he would pop popcorn and force us to watch wrestling telling me it was fake as I covered my eyes. We went everywhere with him, even to big people places like the race track, golf course and business meetings, but most of our time was spent in the department stores.

He loved to shop and dressed in nothing but the best as well, we where always in Lords and Taylor’s. When we would go out he would clown around and act like a monkey or something causing us to laugh and beg him to stop embarrassing us.

Speaking of embarrassment. He loved antique cars, but I remember riding around in every type of car from old classics from big body SUVs. I used to be embarrassed to be seen in this old classic he named “Ghost”, I would sink back in the passenger seat, yes back then kids could ride in the front, I could have passed on the front seat when he pulled old “Ghost” out, but he also had this shiny black antique, which I didn’t mind, because the I saw Princess Diana or some Princess ride in that type of car. My Daddy taught me about car leasing at a young age to and how doing so kept you in new cars and the risk of breakdowns was rare. 

Back I to shopping. I was about 7 yrs old when a older white sales rep followed us around and attempted to question his ability to pay for the items he had us trying on, he told that lady “Miss, do you not see me in here shopping with my girls, how dare you insult me, get your manger and let him know George Price would like to speak to him.” Not sure what happened to the lady, but I didn’t know what commission was until later on in life, but she surely did not benefit from his purchase that day.

Years prior My Daddy would tell me he would call me back after his appointment, he had some health issues, so I wasn’t concerned. I recall him being out of town for these appointments as well, but he always told me it wasn’t a big deal just follow up with the best doctors. I get mad every now and then, knowing he had to know he had cancer. His health could not have plummet straight to stage 4 in a few weeks.  I was totally blindsided by the phone call telling me to get to Nola asap to say our goodbyes… 

I never would have thought that time span consisted of a week, but I made it and spent time with him, the staff at Oschner allowed me stay in the ICU after a nurse heard I was from Minnesota and wasn’t invited to his home. The nurses gave me a reclining chair, but there was No resting. I watched my bigger than life Daddy succumb to the disease. 

He fought hard, pulling tubes out, jumping out the bed, gained the mental capability to call for me after I ran into the bathroom crying, he left me with the words “Deatra, the sun will always shine, it will shine when its raining and it will shine when I’m gone.” He was right, it’s still shining and the pain is not as bad as it was, his wife’s  voice has gotten fainter, but this time of year gets hard for me and this year I finally found an outlet that may allow my wounds to heal.

Years prior to his death we had gotten closer, but years earlier I pulled away  prior to the birth of my daughter. I hid my pregnancy and her birth for over a year, my daughter was 18 months old by the time my Mama made me tell him. He continued to love and support me after he found out, although upset and disappointed , he was my Daddy and loved me unconditionally. 

I used the opportunity to break away from him when I noticed we weren’t allowed to spend the night at their new house, but the daughter’s friend’s could. I used to wonder if they thought we peed in the bed or something, I figured it had to be something we did wrong. The house was nice size, a very expensive two bedroom house with lots of land and a pool in the Lakefront area. Not sure why they couldn’t buy a house with an extra room for when we came over, like my husband I did for my stepson, but it was easy to blame her instead of him, especially after seeing the beautifully decorated bedroom of my step sister. Being a teen then and seeing how they were living and not having a personal space for us, was heartbreaking and it pushed me to boys. 

Mind you My Daddy did provide for us, paying our rent, bringing us shopping and etc, but that wasn’t a good look to me, how he was living with his new family.  He dated her for sometime, I remember her playing jacks with us, visiting her house and doing things with her and I liked her and her daughter, but after they got married things changed and I wasn’t gonna deal with, I found replacements so I thought. 

When he founded out he was a grandfather, he would come  pick us up and we did the usual, shopping. He told me he, felt something was wrong when I stopped going with them shopping and was always gone when he picked my sister up. I was so slick, I had my Daddy buy me a prom dress without me, well my sister was with and she assisted him, but yall know one has to try on an evening gown, but some kinda way I talk my way into having him pick it out and made up a teengirl heartbreaking story of the boy going with someone else. He was wanting pictures and that wasn’t gonna happen. What have someone else wear it and cut their face out the picture and put mines on their body with my dress?? Copy and paste wasn’t developed yet. lol. Dionne did a really good job keeping my secret, but looking back I feel bad for putting my little sister in an awkward position.

Soon after he was informed his granddaughter and spending time with us,  I started flapping my tongue to my Mama saying stuff like, ” My Daddy will let him live with him, I don’t have to live with you telling me what to do with my baby.” I found out that opening your legs, pushing a life from between those legs and having a baby didn’t give you the automatic title of being a grown adult.  With that my Mama called My Daddy to pick me and my baby up, where I found out I couldn’t stay after all my  smart mouth talk. We were able to stay in the den for a week I believe, he gave me a speech about me being his daughter and his responsibility for “Me” my daughter is his granddaughter and her Daddy is responsible for Her, he said he would help me find an apartment, but her Daddy will have to provide rent, food and etc for the baby and if he doesn’t, he will stop as well. He made it clear that it would be my apartment and that my daughter’s dad be held totally responsible for her, but would not be allowed to stay nights at my place. He made it known to my daughter’s dad as well and it worked out. 

My Daddy and his wife was always at work or at some social event, my daughter and I had a lot of one on one quite time in their beautiful home and neighborhood. I would take her to park like right in their backyard where we would swing more than play. One evening my Daddy came out to push the both of us, which made my day, made my world if only for that moment. 

 Afterwards, he made the most delicious stuffed whole fish for dinner. We also spent time sitting by the beautiful cobblestone brick lead enclosed pool or sat under this big tree in their yard.

 It was an emaculate house, the tile and flooring came from over seas, the walls were adorned with beautiful artwork and the kitchen was fit for the best chef in the world. No wonder why I loved nice things. 

One night he came home late and overheard them having an argument, mostly, personal marital issues and the rest my living arrangements. The next day I made up some reason to return home, but shortly afterwards I moved to Minnesota. Leaving him asking why I moved so far until his death. I  grew up a bit more, made him proud by attending nursing school and graduating. 

We got closer even with the distance between us and he shared personal information about his marriage and apologized to me. He told me about his life with my Mama and when he told me that, I figured his wife had issues with my Mama. He was paying our bills, my Mama bills..but geez my Mama never put my Daddy on child support. She allowed him to do right by us on his own.

He would always bring up how my 15yr old self caught the bus to his shop Elements of Style on Franklin Ave to tell him off, walk out his shop and slam his door. I went to confront him about not having space for us at his house and being heart broken about the death of his Mama, my Grandmother. He was shocked that I was so brave to challenge him and all he could offer up was “She is My Mama & I am hurting and that’s why your Mama told you, Deatra.” As I made my way back to the bus stop, he came out pretending to put out trash and stood on the sidewalk sweeping til my bus came. He avoided to answer the 1st question, well he said I didn’t give him enough time too. We were able to laugh about it when I got older, each time he spoke to me or when he saw me, he would reenact my performance. lol 

There’s no making up for lost time, but there was time to savor the moments after the time  lost. Honestly, the terrible teens, well mines were not a walk in the park, so we possibly avoided a severe estrangement, but I was truly blessed to restored our relationship prior to his death. No longer a little girl in age or size, I was able to get to know the real George Price, which is why I’m seeking those who knew him as well. I’m happy that we were able to reconnect as father and daughter, but more so we became friends. 

If it wasn’t for the kindness of my Daddy’s friends, we would had to walk back to Minnesota from New Orleans. It was a long plane ride to and from as it was, my sister had a melt down in the middle of the airport. She had to get the news of his death while she awaited her connecting flight in Chicago, hearing her cry over the phone caused me more grief, I remember screaming then passing out in the hospital hallway. I hope I can find them so they can know we made out ok and that my sister followed in his footsteps and is a teacher, ran a cosmetology college  and manages private salons.

We missed Christmas and New Years with our babies that year and year after that, I go through the Holiday Blues with thoughts of My Daddy dying during this time and the nasty treatment of a wife he choose, but I try to find the spirit for my kids. I held on to a conversation that I had with my Daddy months prior to his death. He told me he was taking us all to Disney World for Christmas, me, my sister and all his grandkids would spend Christmas in Disney World….We never made those plans, but I decided to follow though and make his plans for us happen. In a few days we all will be in Disney World and my Daddy will be with us in spirit. I feel like it’s a step towards healing, replacing the trauma surrounded by his death with a plan that he had no power over in canceling. 

Daddy we going to Disney!

Please please contact me if you knew my Daddy, George Albert Price. 

Here’s a letter my Daddy sent with some money to help me leave my abusive exhusband, as you read it, he states he loves me and that I can call upon he any time and for any reason and will love me no matter what. I saved the letter since receipt of it on April 5, 1999. This letter was one of his 1st he typed on his home computer.

Call Tyrone

Tonight I feel like switching up a bit, these days I haven’t been as playful and outgoing with my writing as I can be. After a few glasses of spumante and Erykah Badu’s music in my ears, I decided to pen my grown woman playful thoughts.

With that being said, I’m pretty sure you all heard Erykah’s song “You better call, Tyrone, ” right? If not let me bring you up to speed.

Erykah told the Power 105 Breakfast Club that her most famous song was “a total freestyle” that she made up on the spot and just happened to record.

Erykah has had enough with her no-good, do-nothing man and is kicking him out of the house. Tyrone isn’t actually the boyfriend here: Tyrone is the boyfriend’s homeboy, and Erykah suggests that he “call up Tyrone” to help him move his shit out of her house.

The boyfriend put his friends above her, disrespected her, and basically acted like a scrub. Since he loves Tyrone so much, maybe Tyrone can help him carry his things out: but he can’t call Tyrone on Erykah’s phone, because he never helped her with the bill.

When I first heard the song in the late 90’s, I grooved to it, even playing it in prelude to my ex husband exiting our home. “Call Tyrone, yes call him please” I would say loudly and with much attitude. Who is this “Tyrone” that will come to the aid of his friend who is messing up with his woman to help him when he calls?

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I’m a lil older now and I actually know a “Tyrone” up close and personally, well I used to anyway, but this has nothing to do about him. So, sweetie if you’re reading please know we still on that “Need To Know Basis” phone plan. I had to throw a lil salt in there, because I did not like that comment. The Tyrone I know and the Tyrone I will depict may have some similarities, but mostly it’s just the name lol. Let me stop, but I told y’all it was one of those types of nights…

My mind has me envisioning this “Tyrone” and I’m hearing how he seems to be so dependable, always around, has his stuff together and single… I’m picturing “Tyrone” as one fine handsome specimen of a man, well dressed, intelligent and charming. You’ll find him chatting with a woman or on a business call, when he’s visiting your man at your house. He always takes the call out to his car to give his caller his undivided attention. When he comes over to chill he has a bottle of something to contribute to their boys game night. “Tyrone”  will make sure to chat with you while you’re standing in the kitchen with your arms folded, face twisted, mouth tight at the fact of your man choosing company over time with you. Igging you on to finishing frying those wings he claims are just as good as his Mama’s. “Tyrone”surely seems to the “Man.”

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Have you ever thought, why is it that “Tyrone” does not need to call his friends to bail him out of his shit? “Tyrone” has to be doing something right in his life, right?? “Tyrone” must know how to balance his life or maybe he knows not to bite off too much, knowing if he does he will not be able to handle it? “Tyrone” seems like the type to tell the ladies exactly what it is they have going on, but still manages to make her feel special even if they aren’t in a committed relationship. “Tyrone” knows how to treat a lady, that slang “Friends with benefits” never leaves his lips. He’s a perfect gentle yet rough lover that aims to please and he pleases in his own king size bed in his own immaculate house.

I wanna know this “Tyrone.” Seriously, Tyrone has a his own house, his own car, his own phone and the list of  “His Own” goes on and on. Why is it that we are with the fool who needs to call him? Why do we go though and deal with men who are no good for us, while passing up the ones who will add to our lives. Are we really that committed to the bad boy persona? The have 5 baby momma’s and no job type of man, who comes over with his shit in a garbage bag??? Is that what we like ladies??

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I decided I’ll call “Tyrone” myself. It won’t be my ex’s or Tyrone, but it will be a “Tyrone.” I don’t know about you, but I know I deserve a “Tyrone” in my life… I am deserving of a man who is single, honest, loyal, balanced, employed, funny, dependable, you know all that and a bag of chips kinda man.

I know men, unlike woman are loyal to a fault within their friendships, I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing at this point, but honestly we as women can learn a few things from their bonds. Men have long-lasting solid, loving friendship and it will take something very devastating to destroy their bond. We as women, stop being friends when we think the other looks a lil too cute one night…

But back to this “Tyrone” this man who will hear from me very soon and as a matter of fact I will not have to call “Tyrone,” because “Tyrone” will find me and get these digits, boo.

The only way for me find out is for me to wait so I can “Call Tyrone” after he calls me. lol

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Ok, I’m calling him now

Wish me luck ladies and I’ll let yall know how the call with “Tyrone and I” goes.


Nola Chic

Hmmm what if  “Tyrone”is gay…..

I found a Tyrone for yall tho, but he’s for my true old schoolers.. This for my Mama.


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New Orleans Saints Game Color Blinds Us:We are One

My Auntie Grace and I went into the Bywater Neighborhood to watch the Saints & Falcon’s football game. As you will hear in my video I will say “We are with the white people” about 3 times as well as referring to the new transplants or locals who moved here as “Non-New Orleanians.” 

Initially I felt uncomfortable and out of place being that we were the only black people in there, but in the endI had so much fun and met lots of interesting people. 

When, I first came in it was crowded and we saw empty bar stools by some and instantly the stool was covered by a jacket or leg. We smiled and went to the back, greeted by these folks in the back, stood around, spoke and offered stools and a table. I think like me, they were wondering if it was ok to interact, but all it took was a touch down to break the ice. 

Being a native of New Orleans, born and raised here and moving back after Katrina, I am very vocal about my views on the take over of New Orleans by the new wealthy people who have moved in. I see the shift, change and witnessing the drowning of my culture right before my eyes and I have no one to blame, but the people who the media is showing me have came in and claiming my city as there own. I based this perception by what the media is feeding me never once speaking directly to the new white people who have moved here. This night I had a chance to hear and see with my own eyes.

I met some wonderful people, gained new NOLA Life followers and friends. I found that like us white people are just as hospita and fun as black people. I believe the past has us thinking that our skin color makes us indifferent, but we all share all of life’s commonalities. 

The Non New Orleanians were receptive & understood my concerns about the change in New Orleans, but they mentioned that they are here,  because they want it to remain the same too. 

Hopefully,  with this common concern we all can come together and keep the soul and culture of New Orleans in tact while making New Orleans better!⚜ 

I met met people from all over the world, France, Canada, Africa, Spain and they are all here in New Orleans.  They love my city, our city even with all our troubles. Just hearing them speak in their dialects trying to get me to feed them our culture was just the validation I needed. 

It was a memorable experience and I thank those that manned the bar & the kitchen for their hospitality as well. A special thank you to the New Orleans Police for being a part of our friendship circle. It was awesome! ⚜


We must release our pain & LIVE

Life is too short, full of precious lives we get to share it with. At times we all can hurt each other, say hurtful things, sometimes we not only attack the physical self of others but in lashing out we always cut ourselves. I found that pain, is a learning experience, it hurts initially, starts to heal, you see the scab and once it’s heals it leaves a scar to remind of the painful experience, hopefully it will remind us to put a helmet on the next time. The heart in our body is designed to take in good and pump out the bad, it doesn’t keep all the pain inside of us we must release it… let it go 
I have been offended and have offended others, at this time I ask you to please forgive me, know that I have forgiven you long ago there’s no need to see you or hear the words. There’s so many lives leaving this earth, someone in terrible pain, someone scared, hungry, the devil himself is forcing someone to hurt someone in the most cruel volient way possible. Life is hard enough, we need each other to get through it.

A New New Orleans or Gentrification of New Orleans?

At the turn of New Orleans 300th Birthday and they hype they are selling ‘A New New Orleans” it has me worried about the future of our Native New Orleanians, especially with all the changes that have taken place after Katrina. Maybe, it’s the word, “New”, new means different and transition from the norm. For instance, you buy a New car, a New house or you breakup with your old boyfriend and meet a New boyfriend. What exactly is this “New New Orleans” they are glorifying? I thought I heard her wrong, but yes at the end she states “together we will create a New New Orleans?”

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As it stands today, well in my eyesight and on my palette, New Orleans has turned into a water-down bowl of Gumbo. It’s actually not Gumbo in some restaurants here anymore, but wild peasant and alligator sausage soup as one tourist informed me she was served when she asked for New Orleans Gumbo…. Where they do that at? It seems in this new place soon to be New New Orleans. Something, has been changed, modified, removed from New Orleans Culture when they start messing with the Gumbo…it’s not Gumbo anymore, it’s soup and you can get that at any grocery store in the world.. I will not insult myself by posting a pic of what that may look like..


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As I think of New Orleans, our home, culture and history I realized that We, Black New Orleanians contribute to the majority if not all of the cultural aspects of the city that bring people here day after day. New Orleans unlike Atlanta does not fall under that umbrella as being a Black City, when in essence if one takes away what makes New Orleans, New Orleans, it would be the black influence.

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Have you walked down your street, or even sit outside on your porch for your new Non New Orleanian Transplant Neighbor to act as if you are invisible? New Orleans locals are known for their hospitality and yet the ones who want to take over have none.

One thing I have noticed is that they will come out as an organization and provide a service to the community,nice right, yes, but why is it hard for Us to be able to tap into those same grant monies to provide the same? They are not out there gifting their time, food, toys and etc. There’s funding for the things we see going on at St.Roch Park, Once again wonderful, but recently I was told that my Non-Profit Plan application was denied,because the organization was looking to assist those who have a Social for Profit Model?? Huh? Ok, reach out to at risk kids, teach them how to bake a cake and then sell those cakes??? Profit off of helping?? This is the New New Orleans way?

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On another note have you ever seen a white New Orleanian have their own 2nd Line Club?No, recently there have been a couple of white men that I have noticed join certain clubs. Have you heard of a white Indian at Mardi Gras? No,but they will make sure to be the King of the best floats and etc. These two events alone bring in millions of dollars, but it has nothing to do with the white, well Cajun culture.

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Just today I learned of Lena Richard, what if she remained behind the kitchen door like others? If she didn’t have the courage to break out and claim stake on her contribution the things she accomplished would have never been heard of, well not with her name.. It stands today that her picture was removed from the cover of her cookbook and today that very same cookbook owned by whomever cost $200+, more than likely her family receives a small royalty check for the sales. We have to have the spirit of Lena and come from behind the kitchen door and tell them, ” That’s mine’s, I made that.”


I’m not being racist, I’m just calling it as I see it, especially with all this talk about a “New New Orleans and Air B & B’s” to me it’s another take over of a land and a culture not of theirs, as they have done for hundreds of years. There’s enough for everyone. I don’t get how our people, our culture is being pushed out and/or forced to not come back since Katrina.

“A group of mostly white protesters actually held signs on Crowder Boulevard, proclaiming that this neighborhood did not want poor people to live here,” said Dr. Beverly Wright in The San Francisco Bay View. “It seems that the plans for the ‘new’ New Orleans include the pushing out of thousands of poor African-Americans with the intent of concentrating families in the East and any other suburb where they can be pushed out of the city.”

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The 9th Ward continues to sit in ruins, while they hurried up and turned the projects, such as the Iberville into luxury downtown apartments and condo. Those who lived in housing prior to Katrina could never afford to come back with the price tag on the rental/mortgage condos… It’s odd that the Iberville Project which wasn’t affected by Katrina was the 1st to be remodeled… City living right in the heart of downtown… I wonder why they didn’t want to live in the Iberville prior to Katrina? There where openings all the time..

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Do they not realize that the increase in rent and the low paying jobs will make a New New Orleans, because if defiantly won’t be New Orleans. New Orleans is made up of African, Spanish, Indian, essentially what we call Creole Culture, but technically New Orleans is an African American city. Everything from the ground up was created by black people, the very soul of New Orleans is black.

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New Orleans is strong even while broken, resilient, loving, embracing, forgiving, enduring, a survivor who will keep resurrecting after each drowning, each political corruption and after each death, she will rise and will comfort and provide for those knowing she is still capable of giving birth to a plentiful harvest, because she will always have strong roots.

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New Orleans is a spirit alive in all of us and we can let them continue to bend us into something we are not. We are New Orleans, we can’t forget that.

New Orleans Own, Chef Lena Richard 1892-1950

When I was a little girl I was always in the kitchen watching my Mama and Momo, it didn’t matter what they were cooking either. It was something about being in that kitchen with them, seeing the passion and love in their eyes as they cooked and baked in a hot small kitchen. I didn’t know then, but I was in a actual in cooking class, being an obedient student, handing, measuring, mixing and pouring all their ingredients together that magically turned into something delicious.

Mrs. Lena’s story reminded me of how blessed I am to have shared such a sacred space with my Momo over the years. I can see the two of us now in the kitchen making sweet potato pies.. Me saying, “Momo the whole stick of butter?” “Child put that butter in that bowl” she would say with that soft voice of her’s. We had good times.

When I came across the story of Lena Richard’s I felt so proud of her, my Mama, Momo and the rest of the women before me. Her story starts out just as mines, their’s, in the kitchen helping her mother and she turned that into a legacy for her family and ours.

As I read I felt a sense of pride, I felt encouraged, renewed and hopeful. Her story made me realize that I am on the right track and I have to keep pushing on, believing and knowing I will accomplish my goals. I felt my head raise up high and my chest stuck out as if she was speaking to me through her story.

She did it, she paved a way in spite of all that was going in her era. I’m pretty sure she did not get credit for all she contributed to New Orleans cuisine and culture, but she made sure she left her mark on the culinary world. I’m so proud to be a part of her history and culture.

Once a little girl in the kitchen myself who went on to own a restaurant and catering business, I am ecstatic to share her story with you! I hope you enjoy reading about Mrs. Lena Richard as much as I did.

Lena, who was African-American, was also an acclaimed chef. Too often in the mid-twentieth century, the identities of the top chefs of New Orleans’ world-renowned restaurants remained anonymous. They were the creative genius hidden behind the swinging doors of their kitchens. Often, those men and women were African-Americans. Lena, therefore, was unusual: she was a black female chef who captured public attention. While unusual, she was not alone. In fact, Richard was at the forefront of increasingly popularized black cooking traditions. Her cooking show appeared just one year after Frieda De Knight’s cookbook, A Date With A Dish (1948), later renamed The Ebony Cookbook (1962), and was soon followed by Mary Land’s Louisiana Cookery (1954). Like Frieda and Mary, Lena played a principal role in the emerging black cooking scene in the late 1940s.


Lena Richard was “a Martha Stewart before there was a Martha Stewart.”

The quote from Liz Williams, president of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, is an apt comparison, for Richard was a chef, caterer, restaurateur, frozen food entrepreneur, cooking teacher, cookbook author, wife, mother, grandmother — and host of her own cooking show on New Orleans television, a singular achievement for an African-American in the segregated South of the late 1940s.

She’s important because she stepped out on the water when there was no guarantee it would hold her up,” says food historian Jessica B. Harris, author of “High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America.” “She was the first, an extraordinary first.

“The television thing she did makes her phenomenal,” Harris says. “To be that person on-air in New Orleans at the time was extraordinary. … She did and created so much stuff, she made a path.”

Richard “was an inspirational leader,” agreed Toni Tipton-Martin, the Austin, Texas-based author, community activist and creator of “The Jemima Code,” a pop-up exhibit, blog and upcoming book exploring the legacies of African-American cooks. “She operated her restaurant in a manner to bring along the next generation.”

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Lena operated several eateries in New Orleans throughout her career. She opened her own restaurant, Lena Richard’s Gumbo House on February 19, 1949. A newspaper advertisement for the grand opening of the Gumbo House captured readers’ attention and tempted their appetites by naming “gumbo file as the house specialty.”

The restaurant was located at 1936 Louisiana Avenue, and was very much a family operated business. Lena’s son-in-law, Leroy Rhodes managed the restaurant, her husband, Percival ensured the property was in top shape, and her daughter, Marie managed the finances. Even during Jim Crow, this restaurant served both black and white clientele, capturing the customer loyalty of a variety of New Orleans residents with Lena’s famous dishes.

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That intent was made clear in the preface to Richard’s cookbook, “New Orleans Cook Book.”

In 1939, she self-published more than 350 recipes for simple as well as elegant dishes in Lena Richard’s Cook Book. Her smiling face radiates from the kind of ladylike portrait one might expect to find cradled inside a gold locket worn close to the heart. A year later, at the urging of Beard and food editor Clementine Paddleford, Houghton Mifflin published a revised edition of her work. This book, however, contained a new title and preface, and that precious cameo-style photograph was gone.

“New Orleans Cook Book,” by Lena Richard: Originally self-published as “Lena’s Cook Book” in 1939, it was republished by Houghton Mifflin at the insistence of food luminaries James Beard and Clementine Paddleford. But as if to remind her she was an outlier, the publisher removed Richard’s name and portrait from the new volume. (From “The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks” (University of Texas Press, 2015), by Toni Tipton-Martin.)


She was born Lena Paul in New Roads, La. (Many sources list the year as 1892 but the New Orleans Times-Picayune, in its notice of her death from a heart attack on Nov. 27, 1950, gives her age as 51.) She began her career as a domestic — “like so many others of her time,” wrote Harris in “High on the Hog.” Her employers, the Vairin family of New Orleans, sent her for culinary training first locally and then to Boston at the school founded by Fannie Farmer.

Lena Paul returned to New Orleans after graduation in 1918 and began catering, according to Karen Trahan Leathem, author of “Two Women and their Cookbooks: Lena Richard and Mary Land,” a guide to a 2001 exhibit sponsored by Tulane University’s Newcomb College in New Orleans. She married Percival Richard and opened the first in a series of restaurants. The cooking school opened in 1937.

“My purpose in opening a cooking school was to teach men and women the art of food preparation and serving in order that they would become capable of preparing and serving food for any occasion and also that they might be in a position to demand higher wages,” Richard wrote.”
By the spring of 1950, WDSU television cameras had been steadily broadcasting footage of Lena Richard’s New Orleans Cook Book throughout the Crescent City. According to advertisements in The Times-Picayune, the cooking show aired twice weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:00, featuring Lena and her assistant, Marie Matthews. During the program, Lena guided television audiences through her cookbook, New Orleans Cook Book, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1940.
WDSU was the first television station in New Orleans, broadcasting live on December 18, 1948 from the Municipal Auditorium. In 1948, many New Orleans residents had never seen a television set, but by the time Lena’s show was airing in 1950, an estimated 40,000 televisions were up and running in the city. Although there is no footage of Lena’s cooking show, we still have her cookbook to explore and learn from. The recipes contained in its pages are simple and effective, drawing upon the flavor of quality ingredients to produce rich and complex flavor.
To my knowledge, the early television programs on WDSU were not recorded, so footage of Lena’s show likely does not exist. However, one can imagine that she featured tantalizing recipes from her cookbook such as “Stuffed Pork Chops” and “Ham and Potato Croquettes.” This past summer, I had the privilege of speaking with some early pioneers of WDSU television who fondly remember tasting Lena’s cooking after her program aired. I imagine that after a long day working at the studio, these flavorful dishes were a much-needed respite in the fast-paced and experimental world of early television.

Image courtesy of the Newcomb Archives, Tulane University

Image result for lena richards new orleans recipes

Circa 1947-’49: “One of most popular TV programs, The Lena Richard’s Cookbook, televised by WDSU-TV each Tuesday and Thursday at 5 p.m., is rapidly becoming one of the most appealing programs on video. Richard, one of the nation’s leading culinary artists, actually prepares many palatable dishes such as ‘Grillade a la Creole.’ Woody Leafer, WDSU announcer, assists Lena on the telecast.” PHOTO COURTESY OF LOUISIANA DIVISION/CITY ARCHIVES, NEW ORLEANS PUBLIC LIBRARY

After her cooking show ended, she continued her catering and restaurant businesses, expanding to producing frozen versions of local dishes such as turtle soup, gumbo and grillades, which were distributed nationwide by Bordelon Fine Food.

She died in 1950, leaving her mark as an entrepreneur and businesswoman, playing a large role in the preservation and promotion of 20th-century African-American cooking in New Orleans.

Richard was an African American woman who made a name for herself in the Jim Crow South, said Young, adding, “She not only worked with an elite white population in New Orleans, she used that leverage to make a change for the African-American community.” wdaley@tribpub.com
Being a native of New Orleans and reading about her legacy has touched me, inspired me and has me determined to keep up our tradition, our culture and teach by sharing my kitchen with all little girls who are willing to watch and learn..

In a very real sense, Lena Richards helped defined New Orleans and Louisiana cuisine in the twentieth century.

I am captivated by her story and so very proud

Here are a few of her recipes:

Lena’s Doughnuts


  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk


Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Sift together, three times. Combine sugar and egg; add butter. Add flour, alternately with milk, a small amount at a time. Beat after each addition until smooth. Knead lightly 2 minutes on lightly-floured board. Roll 1/3-inch thick. Cut with doughnut cutter. Let rise for several minutes. Fry in deep, hot fat until golden brown. Drain on unglazed paper. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
Number of Servings: 12

Creole cooked red beans

Prep: 20 minutes

Soak: Overnight

Cook: 3 to 3 1/2 hours

Makes: 8 servings

Adapted from Lena Richard’s “New Orleans Cook Book.” Ashley Young posted this recipe and others on a blog related to a Richard exhibit at New Orleans’ Southern Food and Beverage museum. Smoked or fresh ham shank can be used. Young’s big tip? Patience. Slow cooking will transform the texture of the beans from firm to “gloriously mushy” in 3 to 3 1/2 hours, she says.

2 cups dried red beans

2 quarts water

1 large onion, diced

1 green pepper, cored, seeded, diced

½ pound pickled meat or ham shank

3 tablespoons shortening

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Pepper to taste

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. Soak beans overnight in a large pot or bowl in enough water to cover by 2 inches. Drain. (You can skip the soaking, if you like. The beans will need to cook about 30 minutes longer.)

2. Pour the beans into a large pot along with the 2 quarts water; add remaining ingredients, except the salt, pepper and parsley. Heat to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, with the lid slightly askew, until beans are soft and soupy, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. With 10 minutes of cooking time, add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and pepper to taste. Just before ready to serve add parsley; taste for seasonings.

Make sure to order her cookbook, it’s on sale at Amazon.