Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Tiger spotting

Thirteen days.

That's how long it took me to encounter something from the LSU nation in my new home of San Diego.

We headed downtown to the Gaslamp Quarter Monday night, a week and a day after arriving from our cross-country drive from New Orleans.

The Gaslamp is sort of San Diego's version of where the New Orleans Warehouse District meets the French Quarter and Canal Street. It's a wide swath of the downtown area encompassing some of the city's oldest and most attractive commercial architecture and running into the huge convention center and the new professional baseball stadium.

The area is filled with high-priced restaurants, specialty bars, chic clothing stores and the occasional tourist trap.

We drove around looking for parking for about 10 minutes before finding a spot - right behind a car with a Louisiana license plate set in a purple and gold LSU Tigers frame.

It wasn't my first encounter with signs of south Louisiana in Southern California. I found a beverage supplier located near my new neighborhood that sells Abita Brewery Amber, Purple Haze and Turbo Dog beers. The local Trader Joe's, a hip yet reasonably priced grocery store, sells an in-house andoulle sausage. And there are at least three Louisiana cuisine restaurants in the city, including New Orleans Creole Cafe in the city's Old Town area that offers authentic po-boys, muffalatas, bread pudding and a chicken gumbo that rivals any version of the Cajun dish that I ever had in New Orleans. One of the owner/cooks, Mark Bihm, is a Metairie native who has lived in California for the last 20 years and opened the restaurant just 17 months ago.

Back in the Gaslamp, I couldn't help wondering about the owner the LSU car. Was he or she like me, a new arrival? Or maybe part of the Katrina diaspora? Or a conventioneer or tourist here for a short trip?

As we walked back to the car, I was hoping to bump into the other Tiger fan if, for nothing else, to exchange a friendly Geaux Tigers! - that knowing code we share when we encounter one another away from Louisiana.

The car was still there, but the driver wasn't. I'll save my cheers for May 9, when we attend the 18th annual San Diego LSU Alumni Chapter's crawfish boil.

No comments: