I remember that when I moved away from Mississippi and Louisiana after college my father would not travel in late August or September during "hurricane season" to visit me. I remember thinking how odd and old-school that was, as I remembered just one hurricane at that point in my life—Camille. I remember thinking, Why do old people think and talk about the weather all the time? He was probably younger than I am now. As life has it, I now find myself obsessed with the weather, and, after Katrina, constantly tracking potential hurricanes. I even commented this week, what was I thinking, planning a week in New York in the middle of hurricane season? There is truth in the theory that we eventually turn into our parents or at a minimum pick up a substantial amount of their idiosyncrasies that we mocked while growing up.
It is no surprise that I remember Hurricane Camille, as it was the third and strongest tropical cyclone and second hurricane during the 1969 Atlantic hurricane season. The second of three catastrophic Category 5 hurricanes to make landfall during the 20th century in the U.S., it hit land near the mouth of the Mississippi River, so yes, I remember it well. It was August 17, 1969, and Camille recorded sustained wind speeds of at least 190 miles per hour. There is uneasiness around here during this time of year, now among all ages, not just people 50 and older, but it seems to be offset this year with the excitement surrounding the New Orleans Saints.
Along with 99 percent of the population of Mississippi and Louisiana, I am hopeful it will be another great season. No one can argue that their performance last year was a huge boost to morale and a newfound hope after the devastation of Katrina. My son who goes to school in New Orleans is already predicting he will not have class the day after winning games. (Luc possesses an entirely different kind of optimism than I am talking about; I consider his "wishful thinking.") He is home this weekend and is asking about food to take back to put in his freezer for Saints games. He always requests my stuffed pork loin with Andouille, but he likes it even more when I don't oven roast it, but send it to my brother Peter Trosclair's local Biscuit & Blues (I started the one in San Francisco 16 years ago) to put in his smoker when he is preparing his daily inventory of smoked ribs and chicken.
In many parts of the country, with football season, crisp fall weather comes to mind. Down here, we are at the end of the season before you think cool, crisp weather. So, at the beginning of the season, when I am thinking of what to cook, I scavenge for the last of the summer tomatoes, and they are disappearing before my very eyes. The growing season is pretty much over by now. I have the last of the speckled butter beans. Knowing some readers may think that too many of my recipes have pork in them, I still cannot help myself—there is no way to cook butter beans without pork. Okay, there is, and yes, you can use smoked turkey ... but if I had to do a taste test with my butter beans with bacon, I am confident they would win out. And I am even going to make it worse—I am going to serve them with my pork loin stuffed with Andouille sausage. I guess you could consider this a triple threat ... much like Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, and Greg Williams. (I have to admit that I had to look them up. I really am not very good with names of football players... even the Saints.)