Digesting a maladjusted observation by new New Orleanian Tara Elders in a recent New York Times piece regarding her new city’s supposed lack of cosmopolitan sensibility and its apparent lack of kale requires equal parts restraint and forgiveness. Questions surface. Who is she? Who cares. Why the kerfuffle? In short, New Orleanians take pride in themselves and this comment plays as a slight, however one frames it. Adding this misfire into the whole of its missive stirs up other unsettlingly obtuse observations the article makes, but for brevity’s sake permit me to sum it up in a quote of one ex pat’s (though presently a New Yorker) Facebook update “I defy you to read this article and not want to set something on fire.”
Color me naïve if I ever thought for a moment that a city that actively embraces it’s moniker as “The Big Easy” might not fall under a qualifier like ‘cosmopolitan.’ Could that be what Ms Elders was thinking? The free-flowing and the worldly match up, do they? But then I don’t hail from the Netherlands (as she does, at least according to www.imdb.com) where who can say how they view these sorts of things, though clearly kale is of the utmost priority in defining status. Which might be a keen observation — if she were right! Kale practically grows wild in the four corners of Orleans Parish. My own backyard included. There’s even a commercial and a recipe the big wigs at Kraft saw myself, my brood, and our digs fit to be cast in. Go on. Google as an image search ‘kale villere’ and view the results. Ain’t sayin’ I’m cosmopolitan or nuthin’, I’m just sayin’.
And I know this whole deal blew up into #kalegate, and I’m the last person to write about it, but forgive me, I usually only write once a week. And to be perfectly honest I can forgive the whole ‘not cosmopolitan’ thing, nose in the air, and the whole nine yards, but I won’t let go of the kale; Ms Elders’ own blindness bleeds more ignorance than I can abide, dude. You see, our litter, our crime, our je ne sais quoi, falls much more in line with a few ounces of Taaka, some cran and Triple Sec with a squeeze from my backyard’s lime tree than co-mingling with the likes of sophisticated, suave, or urbane. We are who we are. And if she were expecting something else, perhaps she was misled. But then maybe it was something she read in the New York Times too. Trash might not be sexy, but facts are facts. Now, can I interest you in a cheesy omelette?
Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.