Red Beans and Busk, New Orleans, Day 2.5

On Wednesday I went with Mindy to the high school she where she teaches geometry. Kevin, my elder brother, warned me against going, fearing New Orleans public schools would scare me off teaching. Mindy and her housemates also told me to be prepared for their unruliness, etc. I felt incredibly nervous from the moment I awoke at 5:30AM to head off.

Compared to Eastside High School and Howard Bishop Middle School kids, her students were extremely capable, docile sweet children. They all wanted to learn, I detected none of the thuggishness, cruelty or pride in ignorance that I expected. Maybe there’s a reason Florida always ranks 49th of 50th in education. I didn’t even hear a single fight all day. One thing stuck out, however – the school allows the children to have cell phones at school (yet imposes a strict dress code… priorities?) and thus almost every kid texted, surfed or listened to music throughout much of the class. This floored me particularly with the prevalence of iPhones among these poorer family children. Advertisements really work wonders in convincing many people of the things we “need,” such that they sacrifice health, even – buying water injected Tyson chicken and other terrible foods to afford their cable habits. I helped Mindy grade and assisted children in their project for the day – they were brighter than I expected and also more on task.

I mention the chicken, actually, as the bright point of my day as upon returning to Mindy’s place I set about cooking a fabulous meal – a chicken marabella I’d begun to marinate the night before, picadillo over rice with one egg over easy per person and maduros. I plated each dish with a sprig of parsley and a dash of paprika for embellishment. When I opened the whole chicken the previous night I discovered, to my dismay, that they’d not bothered to gut the thing. Never seen that before. That, plus the absurd amount of water I squeezed out of of the fowl thing rather worried me but all ended well that tasted well.

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