Singing the Blues in Mississippi
Notes from Nan: Singing the Blues in Mississippi
BY HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parati
I’m sitting in a big old house in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi listening to my long-time friend (since seventh grade!) Ellis and her band play the blues. Normally at this moment on a Sunday morning I would be scurrying around serving people food and I have to say that at this moment, I couldn’t be happier than sitting under these huge old oaks in this antebellum house listening to these hard-riding harmonies that sound just right in this town that was all but washed out to sea by Hurricane Katrina. They say around here that Hurricane Camille of 1969 killed more people in 2005 than it did in 1969, as people always thought that any house that could have withstood Camille could certainly outlive any hurricane thrown at them later on. So they stayed home for Katrina and washed right out to sea. They really did. For a first hand account of what it was to stare God in the face, read Ellis’ account of what all happened at www.KatrinaPatinablogspot.com. The thing that gets me every time I read it is that these were not people who signed up to ride broncos or jump out of airplanes; these were regular old people who believed their 150 year old houses high up and away off the coast to withstand the worst hurricane the Gulf Coast had ever seen, so they banded together to make sure their roofs stayed home. It’s an account as harrowing as anything you will read and certainly worth reading. If you only have a little time, skip over to read the tale of The Baytown Inn and know that I met two of the survivors of that scary tale just yesterday, putting up “Please don’t litter” signs over at the Mockingbird restaurant. That these two men went on to be normal people is just more than you can sometimes imagine. One of the singers this morning told me a little while ago that it’s just now that many of the survivors around here are beginning to fall apart, four years after the cataclysm itself. Now some of the houses are rebuilt and the town just looks more like one under lots of construction than one that God tried to kill, and the combination of relative safety combined with the New World Financial Dysfunction is just taking them right out.
So listening to three citizens playing the blues and other songs of death and hope with their swirling harmonies and stealth bass lines is just better than anything else in the world I could be doing on this Sunday morning. The bass player is named Billy Ray and has a talking voice just like Billy Bob Thornton’s.
I’m inviting them to come up to Ashfield, MA sometime this summer and play for us because they are just great! I always hoped Ellis would take her music famous and she did so locally, but I’m hoping she’ll bring it up to us sometime this summer.
You know that on April 18th Swing Caravan is going to play at Elmer’s at 8pm (dinner starts at 5) and also, I don’t believe I have mentioned to you on Sunday, June 14th I’m planning a Cowboy Festival with bands the Sweetback Sisters and Girl Howdy. As I find out more I’ll let you know what the bigger plans are but that’s what I know so far. You are, of course encouraged to wear cowboy and girl outfits, however! I do know that!
Dinner this week …
- Beef or Vegetable Enchiladas with Refried Beans and Mexican Corn
- Chicken braised in red wine with mushrooms and bacon served over scallion mashed potatoes and braised root vegetables
- Mediterranean Eggplant Casserole
The Farm and Grocery Report:
PRODUCE, PEANUT BUTTER AND OILS
There will be plenty of fresh veggies and fruits this week. Black River Produce is delivering on Tuesday, April 7 with mangoes and pears, cukes, radishes, fresh parsley and cilantro for our cooler.
Thank you for your emails and survey messages – glass it is!!! Everyone that I heard from voted for glass jars in which to portion out bulk peanut butter. I have a lead on jars and hope to have them soon.
The 100% expeller pressed Canola Oil and extra virgin Olive Oil from Italy are now available in handy spigot containers (The Container Store is amazing!). You can find these across from the coffee counter, above the tomato sauces. Please bring in your own bottles with the volume marked on them. The oil is priced by fluid ounce and all the cashiers will really appreciate being able to look at the bottle for the size and easily calculate the price.
As always, leave me a note at the store or email me at email@example.com.
LOCAL MEATS, GROCERIES, DAIRY AND PRODUCE:
BEEF: GROUND, LIVER, SHANKS, STEAKS, ROASTS from Steady Lane Farm, Ashfield
PORK: HAM STEAK, PORK CHOPS, BREAKFAST SAUSAGE, SWEET ITATIAN SAUSAGE, HOT ITALIAN SAUSAGE, from Manda Farm, Plainfield
ELMER’S BREAD Friday, Saturday, Sunday and EL JARDIN BREAD Monday and Wednesday
HONEY: WILDFLOWER, BEE POLLEN from Bear Meadow Apiary, Ashfield
MAPLE SYRUP: New Crop Half gallons, quarts, pints, ½ pints, 100ml form Gray’s Sugar House, Ashfield
MISO: GARLIC RED PEPPER, CHIC PEA, SWEET WHITE, HEARTY BROWN RICE from South River Miso Company, Conway
SALAD DRESSINGS: HONEY BALSAMIC, BUTTERMILK RANCH, GINGER MISO, CILANTRO LIME, CHIPOTLE RANCH, POMEGRANATE CHIPOTLE from Appalachian Naturals, Goshen
SALSA from Appalachian Naturals, Goshen
CHEESE: BLUE CHEESE from Berkshire Blue Cheese, Lenox
YOGURT: WHOLE MILK PLAIN, LOW FAT PLAIN, MAPLE, VANILLA, APRICOT ALMOND from Sidehill Farm, Ashfield
APPLES: FORTUNE from Clark Brothers Orchards, Ashfield
APPLES: HONEY CRISP from Clark Brothers Orchards, Ashfield
APPLES: MACINTOSH from Scott’s Orchards, Ashfield
APPLES: MACOUN from Scott’s Orchards, Ashfield
BEET GREENS from Sangha Farm, Ashfield
CARROTS from Springwater Farm, Ashfield
HERBS: DRIED. Basil, Cayenne Peppers, Celery Leaf, Cilantro Leaf, Parsley, Sage, Thyme, Lemon Thyme from Sangha Farm, Ashfield
POTATOES: FINGERLINGS from Manda Farm, Plainfield
SPINACH from Sangha Farm, Ashfield
BLACK RIVER PRODUCE DELIVERED 4/7/09
Organic (Mexico) Avocados
Organic (FL) Beans: Green
Organic (CA) Carrots
Organic (Mexico) Cucumbers
Organic (Hawaii) Ginger Root
Organic (Ca) Herbs: Basil
Organic (Ca) Herbs: Parsley
Organic (Mexico) Mangoes
Organic (CA) Mesclun
Organic (Canada) Parsnips
Organic (CA) Pears
Organic (CA) Radishes
Organic (CA) Rutabaga
Organic (VT) Tomatoes: “Vermatoes”
Conventional (CA) Lemons
BLACK RIVER PRODUCE IN STOCK
Organic (CA) Cabbage: Green
Organic (CA) Garlic
Organic (FL) Grapefruit
Organic (CA) Lettuce: Romaine Hearts
Organic (CA) Onions: Red
Organic (CA) Onions: Yellow
Organic (FL) Peppers: Green
Organic (CA) Potatoes: Yellow
Organic (CA) Shallots
Organic (CA) Yams
You know what is truly an amazing thing? To sit here 1503 miles away from Elmer’s and see all that’s going on! We now have pour-your-own oils! Who would have thought??? That is so cool!
And now we have the Rob Report. I can only—actually, I can’t only imagine what Rob has been up to these last two weeks. Just imagine! Here I am 1503 miles away and Rob has opened a hookah den at Elmer’s! Here goes:
The Rob Report
Sorry about missing last week but, to borrow a phrase from my favorite radio host, I’m on more than I’m off, folks.
This is an old trick columnists use when they don’t have any fresh materiel. Let the readers write it for you! There used to be a columnist at the St. Paul Pioneer Press named Laura Billings who would pull this stunt about once a month. She would just excerpt snippets of the hate mail she received, write a little pithy response to each, and voila! There’s a column! It also served as a way to portray anyone who disagreed with her views as complete morons. It’s a neat trick, and I’m going to do something like that this week.
Just kidding. But I will say that my last installment drew some of the most favorable reactions I’ve ever heard. And it wasn’t my writing that people liked; it was the concept of Goat Day. And what’s strange (or possibly disturbing) is that while so many people approve of Goat Day, not one person asked me to define it or elaborate on it. So it seems Goat Day is anything you want it to be, as long as it involves a goat. Maybe someday it will be a national holiday, but I’ll still have to work at Elmer’s that day.
Don’t Tell Nan!
But, despite her absence, things are actually going quite smoothly here at Elmer’s. The customers seem to like the new rules and the kids are having a ball twirling around the shiny new cell phone tower we put up in the parking lot. Not one person has noticed that we’ve switched to Aunt Jemima® Rich ‘n’ Buttery™ Pancake Topping, and folks are just raving about our coffee, even though we secretly switched to Folgers® Crystals (even the governor loved it!). The resultant savings (and tower revenue) have enabled us to begin a very generous profit-sharing program with the first checks being mailed this week! Good job, everyone!
But we do really miss Nan.
Elmer’s Store | 396 Main St. | Ashfield, MA 01330 | (413) 62-4003