This year’s International Association of Culinary Professionals conference was held in New Orleans. Having spent many drunken visits in NOLA, I had my trepidation about visiting there. But, as I promised the women I met from the Greater New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, I can attest that if you don’t wander from the French Quarter or Garden District, the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina is not immediately evident. (I can make no such guarantees if you get into a cab and wander out to St. Bernard’s Parish, however.)
It was a hard year to revel and network. As I note in another post, my father in law passed away the weekend prior to the conference. I debated canceling but I had numerous commitments and thought that having even a few days to focus on something other than the shock of losing him would be a good thing. Mike came with me for one day, took in a whirlwind trip of the city, and left to deal with family drama in Spokane.
Before he left, though, he got to see the pirates.
A highly unusual event called Pyratecon
was taking place on the same weekend. I’m not making this up. It’s a real convention for pirates. They have sessions on swordplay, rum tasting and literary discussion on “pyratical writings.” These were serious pirates, or pyrates as I believe they’d prefer to be called. They’d invested heavily not just in their costumes, but personas. Although pyrates wandered the streets freely during the weekend, on Sunday, I spent a bit of time in the Holiday Inn Express in the French Quarter where it was being held. It’s a weird fetish world that I don’t understand, but must wonder if it has replaced the whole vampire fetish subculture, the one that came with 17th Century dress. This has just moved up one century, away from Anne Rice’s novels to the Pirates of the Caribbean films. But pirates and vampires are fundamentally similar characters – strong, yet tragic misfits who live in shadows and outside the laws, who exist by taking from others and living with each other by coming up with their own rules and standards.
The IACP conference felt a bit tame by comparison. But it was a good year and I’ll write more about it in another post. By the way, the photo is of young Maggie Dutton
, who came along from Seattle.