Do you know of a source for the New Orleans ceramic tile for street names and numbers? My wife and I were raised on Patton Street where several corners had the blue-on-white tile in the concrete. We have been in Southern California since graduating from LSU in 1961.
I guess you're lucky living there because as the song goes "It never rains in Southern California ...," nor are there hurricanes. But I hope you've been able to get home since 1961.
I know of at least one shop where you can buy reproductions. Derby Pottery and Tile (2029 Magazine St., 586-9003; www.derbypottery.com) makes exact reproductions of the type some call the "Uptown" style. It's the white tile with a blue letter outlined in yellow, with a shadow line. Some refer to it as a stamped look. The tiles are available by order from the shop, and it usually takes a couple of weeks to make them. Each tile will cost you $25.
Looking for a stuffed artichoke recipe, I read your comment about how artichokes became so popular when in fact there are so few artichoke plants in Louisiana. I remember reading that Italian immigrant farmers brought artichokes with them and soon Louisiana became the artichoke "capital" of the world. A number of years later the crop was devastated by a blight and the artichoke industry moved to California. Is this true?
I have never written about artichokes, stuffed or unstuffed, but I have "stuffed" myself eating more than my share. Perhaps you remember reading another article in Gambit about these strange vegetables. However, I'll be glad fill you in on the history of artichokes in Louisiana.
It's not really clear where artichokes originated, but the most likely place is the central and western Mediterranean. Many claim that Sicily is the specific point of origin. Others say it was Naples.
The colonists brought artichokes to America. The Spanish explorers brought artichokes to California, and French settlers brought them to Louisiana. The French learned about artichokes from the Italians and brought the artichoke tradition here long before the Sicilian immigrants arrived. There were a few French farmers who tried to grow the crop and sell them in the city's markets as early as the mid-1700s. However, there is no evidence that Louisiana ever became the artichoke "capital" or that there was a blight. It's just easier to grow artichokes in California; the business of growing them commercially took off in the 1920s.
Artichokes will grow anywhere that has the right climate and soil. While it's not impossible to grow them in Louisiana, they grow much better on the West Coast. In California, where most of them are cultivated, there are consistently warm days and cool nights. The weather in Louisiana doesn't always cooperate. Today, California produces all of the commercially grown globe artichokes in the United States, and the town of Castroville, between San Francisco and Monterey, produces 80 percent of them.
Once it became easy to get artichokes from California, Louisiana farmers pretty much gave up on trying to grow this difficult crop. Strawberries, satsumas, and tomatoes, however, just love the climate and the soil here.
I've got lunch riding on this one. A coworker of mine says that the Walt Disney Company was scouting the Northshore for a possible destination for Disney World. I say it was New Orleans East. Do you know who was right?
Construction on Disney World began in 1967, less than a year after Walt Disney's death. Before the decision was made to build in Buena Vista, Fla., many sites were considered. The search for a site for the new park actually began in 1959. Louisiana made the list, and the site under consideration was eastern New Orleans on the site that later became Six Flags New Orleans.