Editor’s Note: Stewart Peck was awarded the “Leadership in Law” award by City Business on May 16, 2016, and when he came home we celebrated like we often celebrate at NolaVie. With food. Cookies, chips, Prosecco (that counts as a food), and we all ended up saying, “I have to stop eating this.” Instantly, Stewart’s epitaph phrasing came to mind, and in honor of him and his newly awarded title, we are running his piece on food, New Orleans, and good living.
In the cemetery stand granite monuments with epitaphs such as “A Life Well Lived,” or “Gone But Not Forgotten.” In Game of Thrones, it’s House Words: “Winter is Coming,” or A “Lannister always pays his debts.”
For me, epitaph or House Word can be summed up similarly. Mine is: “I’m Starting My Diet Tomorrow.”
Loving to eat and living in New Orleans make for a deadly combination. My 40th college reunion looms, and I need to lose weight so that classmates don’t comment, out of earshot, “I only remember him having one chin.”
The problem is, I’m always overeating at the myriad of New Orleans restaurants, or going to crawfish boils or barbecues. And inevitably, afterward, I tell myself, “OK, I’m really serious this time and I’m truly going to start my diet tomorrow.”
I say this all the time. So much so that my son-on-law recently told me he thought it was the Peck family saying. House Words, so to speak.
My tomb probably won’t have lipstick stains like that of Oscar Wilde, but I love one particular quote attributed to him: “I can resist everything but temptation.” I can feel you, Oscar.
The problem is that it is really hard to start a diet in New Orleans. I start gaining weight around Thanksgiving, and continue to add pounds through the holidays and the New Year. There is always that New Year’s Day resolution to slim down, but Twelfth Night arrives about that time, and of course king cake season starts then. Who can resist a Randazzo king cake, with that thick, creamy frosting?
And that leads to Mardi Gras. You can’t diet during Carnival. So you wait for Ash Wednesday to start that healthier regimen. But only a week or so passes and then it’s festival season. French Quarter Fest has all those booths with delectable New Orleans treats. And Jazz Fest is hot on its heels. Who can pass up a cochon de lait po-boy, white chocolate bread pudding and crawfish Monica?
And of course, during festival season, it’s also crawfish season, and you have to eat dem mudbugs. Along with corn and potatoes.
That leaves a narrow window in mid-May, before my reunion, to start my diet. Tomorrow. But the NFL draft begins Thursday, and you can’t watch it properly without cheese nachos, chips and Popeye’s. So that leaves seven days until my college event.
I have to do it then, because afterward, there’s summer vacation, and who can diet on vacation? And Saints pre-season follows. Then Saints season itself. Any visit to the Superdome demands that you wolf down a superdog with chili and cheese and waffle fries.
Wait. We’re at Thanksgiving again. Life in New Orleans comes full circle.
Last Saturday, I rode my bike from my Garden District home to the Fair Grounds, where I listened to Bruce Springsteen through the fence. After all that exercise, I had a certain craving. So I rode to Tastee Donuts on Harrison Avenue and had a couple of buttermilk drops.
And I told myself, “I’ll start my diet tomorrow.”
Stewart Peck is a local lawyer and New Orleans devotee. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.