So we arrive at the Wednesday in the Bourbon Hotel. June 17th. We had only been around for two whole days and it felt like we had been on a caravan through the Sahara.
Now here I am in the sizzling heat wearing my white dress and inappropriate under garments. Scrubbing out the stains and washing me smalls, well bigs actually.
My room had a balcony with two chairs and a little round table. It faced a wonderful bar with friendly staff and a playing fountain in the dining area. I wanted to open the door to hang my washing on the back of the chair. I turned the key to unlock the lock. I pulled and prayed. In the end I called down to the Concierge.
'I can't open the windows' I said.
'Your room doesn't have open windows maam' said the pleasant receptionist.
'No I mean I can't open the French doors.'
'Oh. I 'll send up an engineer' she said, politely with a hint of irritation.
I hung up and unlocked the door again. It occurred to me that we weren't in London and everything was on the other way round so instead of pulling I decided to push the door. Voila. There was the French Quarter, in the heat of the morning. I hung out my washing and called down to say that I had fixed the problem.
'Thank you maaaam.' said the trained concierge.
Breakfast taken, scrambled eggs and Early Grey Tea, and then the two crews departed.
Eddie - The mother of all producers, with her green back-pack and scripts.
Stewart - the Mighty director, with his furrowed brow and diagrams.
Orlando - the cameraman, with his own camera and box of lenses.
Delboy - The sound man with equipment that was worth more than my cottage.
Justin - Producer Director, I needed a kick step to hug him, with his youth.
Isa Billion Major Fim - a nickname obviously. Assistant Director. With her bag of goodies.
Olly Smith - presenter. With the best line in jackets since Sean Connery.
They left in a big truck with Juan, a runner and Scott, a runner who drove.
I was left back in the hotel with Lauren and time to spare.
Now the thing about heat and tiredness and being left alone in a city which is the largest in Louisiana, the thing about being left alone without a brain cell in tact and everybody asleep in the UK. The thing about being left alone when everybody else has gone fishing is that sight-seeing, shopping and exploring is well nigh impossible. I knew the fishermen would take longer than two hours so I took my clothes off and went to my room. Or did I go to my room and take my clothes off. You choose.
Life was happening outside but, trust me, I had turned to jelly. So I sat at my computer and wrote.
Lauren collected me, and we walked to lunch. More fried stuff, more sugary stuff, more crisp lettuce leaves. because whatever else the Americans do with their food they make the best salads. Crispy lettuce leaves, croutons, sweet tomatoes, luscious cucumber. Grab a salad from anywhere and you will have a plate of nourishing goodness. And the portions are BIIIIIG.
So there's me and Lauren walking back from lunch, I felt like I had eaten two packed portmanteaus. Got to my room, Lauren asked whether she could leave her stuff and I thought maybe not. Maybe retain some distance so I don't turn into her mother. So she left and I slipped on the cotton bath robe, fell onto the settee and slept until the crews had returned from their voyage.
They caught and ate stuff whilst Orlando set up his perfect shots. Nobody realised that whilst he was brushing past damp vegetation composing oscar winning picture 'chiggers' were eating their way into his flesh. What I am about to say contains information that may offend, feel free to read it with your fingers over your eyes.
What Are Chiggers?
'Chiggers are nothing more than young mites, specifically they are parasitic larvae Hungry larvae crawl up vegetation and wait for unsuspecting hosts; people, pets, or other wildlife to wander past. Should you brush against chigger; infested vegetation, or worse, sit down to rest in shady grass full of chiggers, the tiny bugs will immediately crawl up your body, looking for a place to hide
Chiggers like to settle under tight-fitting clothing, so they'll often wind up in your socks.
( YES NDEEDY, POOR OLD ORLANDO ) or waistband. Other favorite chigger feasting spots include the backs of your knees, your armpits, or your crotch. Once the chiggers find a good location on your body, they pierce your skin with their mouthparts and inject you with a digestive enzyme that breaks down your body tissues. Chiggers then feed on your liquefied tissues. They don't suck your blood, like mosquitoes or ticks.
The chigger will remain attached to the host for several days, feeding on dissolved tissues. Once it has an adequate meal, it detaches and drops to the ground, where it continues its development into a nymph. For most people, however, the intense itching caused by the chigger bite leads to equally intense scratching, and the chigger is dislodged by frantic fingers before finishing its meal.'
Orlando, our lovely little cameraman got bitten on both ankles. The resulting blisters were horrific. He had to be taken to a clinic where they gave him drugs and itch stopping cream. By the end of the shoot the blisters had burst. But we heard so many horrific reports of the chiggers laying eggs and eating away the body. Poor Orlando had to take steady shots whilst the pesky chiggers nibbled away at his astragali.
Finally, just I had done back at LWT in 1988, me and a mini crew went to the French Market. The Native Americans had used it as a trading post 150 years ago. Now fully restored the market is famous for its local produce everything from Creole tomatoes, as big as your head, hand made chutney, stalls with peppers and more peppers of different hues and strength, and bags of Louisiana spices.
The market closed and we drove to PAT O'BRIENS, a rowdy bar with a fire in a fountain famous for their house cocktail THE HURRICANE. Half the HURRICANE, a tall, sweet, red drink with a cherry on top, landed on my white dress. Dribbles of cerise sugary liquid splattered over my now off-white garment.
The HURRICANE is necked by noisy young people, noisy old people, noisy people in general. Pat's is a good time place. I ate hamburger and chips - I was having a good time - the resulting abdominal disturbance was my own fault.
When I finally got back to my room, I pushed then pulled the door open, hung my scrubbed dress over the chair and went to bed.
I sprayed my room with Lavender, put on an Om track and contemplated my extremely full navel.
I dreamt of all my bits landing up on the cutting room floor, I dreamt of chiggers and chips. I dreamt of New Orleans and beignets which I was sampling first thing in the morning..... I dreamt of white dresses and 'Vanish' soap which was back in my laundry cupboard. I dreamt of cocktails and chiggers.....and then I drifted off into a deep sleep.
Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes