The waiter fluttered the Stars and Stripes onto the tablecloth after I explained the quest. We perched a candle on top. It would have been too easy to pick a burger joint or hotdog stand to represent the US of A. Instead, I the chose the epitome of the melting pot – cajun cuisine.
Southern Accent, tucked in the shadow of Honest Ed’s Emporium on leafy Markham Street, specializes in Louisiana dishes. The two-storey house has the most inspired and eclectic decor of my stops to date. A veritable mardi-gras of ferns, cloth-canopied booths, strings of lights, beads and garlands, miniature disco balls, feather boas on the bannister, garish voodoo dolls, paintings of New Orleans, and palm-readings for $45. Rhythm and blues floats overtop the conversation.
Our beflagged foursome is leisurely in deciding. Half of us go for blackened chicken, half for jambalaya, with hushpuppies (the cornbread balls not the shoe brand) and pickled Okra appetizers. For good measure I’m drinking Bourbon sour. Jambalaya is a spicy mix of sausage, chicken, shrimp, rice, celery, onions and tomatoes, with French and Spanish roots. Table talk moves from our own ethnic origins (a combined Polish-German-French-Irish) and regresses to a triathlon-inspired gumbo of crisco, blood and shredded neoprene. It was hilarious but you really had to be there.