Frugality involves getting the most for your resources—whether you think of resources in terms of money or of time. Therefore, one thing we try to do in our frugal family is to take advantage of whatever is best wherever we are. Hence, when we visit California, we take lots of nature walks. When we visit New England, we do the same. In Florida, we walk on the beach. In New York City and Boston, we go to museums.
In Paris, of course, we buy food. The French are different from Americans in their food purchasing habits, and we try to emulate those when we are there. So for lunch, we may stop at a cheese booth in a market. Thanks to Mr. Dr. Frugal’s excellent French, we will engage in a lengthy discussion of the merits of certain cheeses with the proprietor. This will culminate in the purchase of 3 small pieces of cheese. Then we do the same at a place that sells ham or pate; we emerge with 2 slices. These raw materials may cost, say, $20.00 for half a kilo, or even more. But we buy some bread, then some fruit, and head off to a park to eat our lunch. This is a time-consuming process, but fundamentally frugal, because we are taking advantage of what is best where we are.
Food is a strong suit in Louisiana. People here, I am convinced, spend a greater percentage of their income on food than most Americans, much as Europeans do. How could one not when you can buy shrimp hours off the boat (complete, with heads) at a hastily set-up stand on the side of the road? Ditto for crawfish, which you can buy at gas stations as well as in the grocery store. Frugal Son and I stopped at a new seafood shop today just to scope out the goods. Food may be the equalizer here, as one can tell from the range of cars parked outside the seafood shop.
Tonight we are having gumbo made with the (frozen) stock from our Thanksgiving turkey, but tomorrow we will get some shrimp. As with our turkey, the best part of shrimp is the stock, in this case from the shells. The flavor comes from the heads.
People born and bred here will sometimes say,” I went to the North once, but I couldn’t eat the food!” Then they will go on to enumerate the indignities foisted on some ingredient or another.
They may have a point. As evidence of why native Louisiana folks are reluctant to leave, we reproduce one page of an ad from Rouses, a local grocery chain. Louisiana may be near the bottom in terms of education and health care. I once was lamenting the state of our school buildings (in contrast to the school board building, which cost many millions of dollars to renovate). My interlocutor said, “Well, at least we know how to have a good time.” So laisser les bons temps rouler! Et bon appetit.