Flush with the success of the fantastic book signing event at River Road Books in Fair Haven, NJ, I approached my events here in New Orleans with a bit of trepidation. After all, the book did really well in NJ and has received excellent reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and Facebook, so how much better could things get? Hold on to your hats!
My Gumbo Team in New Orleans did a great job spreading the word about the Garden District Book Shop event last week and I am so grateful to them for their hard work. I was delighted to see people from the Tulane Psychology department, LSU Neurology, as well as friends of friends and even a visitor from London who’d read about the signing in the local paper. As always, we served Coppola wines with a variety of chocolates and cheeses. It’s so heartwarming to see that people took time from their busy schedules to spend time with me and support my book. Thank you to all who came to this event!
Interspersed among book signings are, of course, milongas! Steve and I had gone tango dancing at the Mellow Mushroom a few days before the GDBS signing – if you’re on Facebook or Twitter you may have seen pictures from that milonga, such a fun place! The organizers of that milonga, Ector Gutierrez and Christine Morris, invited me to sign books at the Friday night milonga in New Orleans. What a surprise! And how kind of them to ask!
So, on Friday evening, off we went to the Presbyterian Church on South Claiborne Avenue – remember the milonga where Manon and Andy met? “All along the walls of the dance hall, or Fellowship Hall as the room was known by the parishioners, hung the stern portraits of thirty previous pastors, their dour faces casting disapproving glances on the dancers as they swayed to the sensuous tango music.” (A Little Gumbo in Her Face). Well, there I was again, swaying to that same sensuous music while those same stern faces frowned on all of us enjoying our tango moments.
When I wasn’t dancing, I was signing books for all the tangueros and tangueras eager to read about Manon’s adventures. How wonderful to be in the company of my tango friends again! Ector and Christine taught an excellent class before the milonga and most of us learned the step well enough to try it out! If you’ve never tried Argentine tango, you’re missing out! It’s the most sensual couples dance I know. You learn to move to the rhythm of your partner who, if he’s good, feels the music and draws you into the netherworld of the tango.
As if that joy wasn’t enough, this morning I was bowled over by the number of people who came over to the table where I was signing books at Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church after both morning services. Friends I’d done my fair share of partying with over the years were there to chat and share in this wonderful event. Plus I got to attend the 11 o’clock service in the magnificent sanctuary where I had worshipped for so many years.
I’m continually struck by the immense kindness of my friends in New Orleans, some of whom I’ve not seen in several years. What is it that Shakespeare said? “Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;” (Hamlet). Yes, good friends are the steel foundations of our lives and they stay with us wherever we roam. I’ve been blessed and am forever humbled by their love.
Along with books and tango and chocolates and Coppola wines, there’s phenomenal food here in NOLA! Oh, we have stuffed ourselves with oysters – fried, chargrilled, raw, in gumbo, in salads, on an oyster loaf – too many ways to imagine! We’ve been to our favorite restaurants along with some new ones and are awed by the flavors and smells, the simplicity coupled with the complexity of the recipes, the unique experience that is New Orleans dining. You simply must come to New Orleans once in your life and sample the fare. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
So here I sit satiated after yet another meal of friend oysters, this time served over fresh spinach in a pepper jelly vinaigrette, preceded I must add by a scrumptious seafood gumbo. We were among many folks enjoying the cool strains of a jazz combo at Superior Seafood on St. Charles Avenue while we ate and talked and laughed with friends. That’s one thing I love about New Orleanians – they love to go out to eat. And what’s not to love? Especially when the food is accompanied by live music 😊
New Orleans’ weather being the unpredictable vixon that she is caused us to reschedule the Barnes & Noble signing. We’ll be in Baton Rouge this coming Friday, April 20, from 4 – 7 PM. And that’ll wrap things up on this book tour. What a journey this has been!