Memories are a funny thing. I look back at certain events or times, and wonder what it was that made a certain scene memorable, that gave it such staying power.
With childhood memories, the question evokes a stronger response – owing, perhaps, to the idea that a memory resonates with more emotion the more distant it seems. There’s something inspiring and captivating about looking back in your subconscious and finding a picture of yourself at a younger, more exciting age.
There I am, 20 years old, turning a corner outside of a Paris cafe, and bumping into the Prime Minister. There I am, 18 years old, sweating under the bright lights of my high-school auditorium during graduation ceremonies. There I am, 15 years old, drawing lines on triangles, during a geometry test. There I am, 13 years old, walking toward the United States Capitol Building, surrounded by a throng of orange jerseys, awaiting a World Cup match.
Each memory reveals another, as if tracing the rings of a Redwood towards its center.
And there I am, 10 years old, huddled over the white, 14-inch television in the kitchen, watching the NFC wild card game. The defense is in long sleeves, crouched for the field goal, the breath pouring out of them. The football snaps back to the place holder, the kicker rushes up, and – in an instant – the ball is back on the ground, the teams reversing field. A group of Saints players is gathered in the end zone, celebrating a blocked field goal. The touchdown suddenly puts the game in reach, and I can feel a sense of excitement rushing over me. But only for a moment.
The camera pans from the jubilant players to the staid referee, ready to rule on the infraction. The touchdown is erased and the score is reset to reflect the Saints’ pending defeat. I can feel my own sense of disappointment, as I look toward the field.
For anyone who has followed the New Orleans Saints – a hapless team for so many years – I imagine their first memory of the team is a similar one: one of disappointment. One characterized by a sense of hopelessness and forlorn. It is a team, after all, that was nicknamed the ‘Aints, that took thirty years to make the playoffs, and took another twelve years to finally win a playoff game.
This Sunday, that long, forgettable history, will turn to a distant thought. This Sunday, the New Orleans Saints play in the Superbowl. And win or lose, one thing is for sure: the game will be a memorable one.
Red Beans and Rice
Recipe adapted from Rebecca Fulcher.
PREP TIME: Requires overnight soaking
COOK TIME: One New Orleans Saints game (roughly 3 hours)
YIELD: Serves 6 to 8
WHAT TO GRAB:
1 pound dried red kidney beans (about 2 1/4 cups)
6 links, or 1.5 pounds, smoked, turkey andouille sausage
1 large onion, chopped
3 pale-green, inner celery ribs with leaves, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups water
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, or to taste
6 cups of cooked, long-grain rice (recipe here)
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Pour the red beans in a large bowl, and add enough cold water to cover the beans by at least three inches. Allow the beans to soak overnight. Do not worry if the red beans begin to split as they absorb the water.
2. In a 4-quart or 6-quart saute pan, combine all the ingredients except for the sausage. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. You can add more water if the mixture is too thick, but I found 6 cups was just right.
3. Cut the sausage links in half, length-wise, and then cut the halves, crosswise, into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
4. Remove 1 cup of the bean mixture and mash or puree it, into a thick paste. I used an immersion blender. Add the bean paste and the sausage to the pan, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until everything is warm and well-mixed.
5. Serve the red beans with the rice, add a slice of cornbread, and you have the perfect New Orleans meal! Perfect for serving a crowd on hand for the Big Game!