Charleston SC: Fare Thee Well, Family Style

In the Kitchen: Charleston
In the Kitchen: Charleston


Head Count: 15

The Crowd:.plenty o' kids, a LITERAL family circus, equine technicians, backgammon sharks, trilingual shorties, vegetarian yogi, adolescent black belts, South African soccor fans, world travelers and potluck veterans

Bean Batches: 2 (one meaty, one vegan)

The Stove:. Three-burner electric. No oven, no cornbread.

After a couple of days poking around Atlanta, it was time to make a beeline for the Atlantic and a few days with my favorite group of Teutonic Beachniks -- the Family Cain down in Charleston SC.

The Cains are one of my touchstone families and a wonderful reason to head for the Palmetto State. The pater familias Greg (not pictured) is currently working on his MD residency, and in keeping with tradition the rest of the family (Mama Anja, bigbad Paul, fleet-footed Henry, sweet Juliette and Julius "THE BOBBY") were making their annual pilgrimage to Germany (Anja's home) to recharge their Deutscheness during the warm months.

Backstory/Flashback: 2007

Greg and Anja
Greg and Anja

A few years back, Dr. Greg was set to graduate from medical school, and put out the call for a party on nearby Folly Beach. We rent a house, lollygag for a week, and celebrate the summertime.

I'd known the boy since well before his med school days -- we met in Oxford MS during grad school in 92 -- and had watched his family grow from afar. We got together in Berlin a couple of times over the years -- when the eldest Paul (now a spindly 16-yearold Klaus Kinski lookalike) was (as we call it back home) "tee-tiny." I didn't really know his others, but decided to pack up the kitchen, drive over to Folly, and hang out for a few days.

During that week, I was able to sit back, relax, and really appreciate the essence of beach-houseness surrounded by the many facets of the Cains' life in South Carolina. Greg's parents came down from Camden, his sister Darlene slowed her musician's migration, brother Jeff came in from Chicago and the many friends of Dr. Greg gathered for six days of eating, swimming and late-night discussions.

The Cain Kids
The Cain Kids

I got to watch these kids (then 14, 12, 7 and 5) run around on the beach all day, host various clutches of friends at the shore, flop around and soak up the sun. Little Juliette had just lost both front teeth, loved to play backgammon and helped teach me German by making some basic flash cards. The Big Kids schooled me in foosball and were jazzed to see the summertime blockbuster pirate movie. Anja taught most of the kids "vaulting" -- a kind of horseback gymnastics.

The week at the beach (and a couple of other short visits that summer) connected me to Los Cainiacs, and if I didn't make it there by the kids' departure date, it'd be another year before I could get my butt kicked at backgammon by a little German girl.

Rote Bohnen Auf Wiedersehen

With a Saturday departure scheduled, we decided to do red beans on Friday night -- and to gather a bunch of Anja's colleagues and friends together for a proper potluck goodbye. Of course, it would be a reunion of sorts -- a gathering of faces from the last trip and an effortless multi-family mealtime as a proper sendoff. Cook two batches -- one for the vegetarian crowd -- and the guests would take care of the rest.

There would be plenty of workaday chaos. There might be yoga. Also, a salad.

Tonight would be a "cook and run" situation, since another wondrous occasion was in the works -- old Austin roommate Robert Brown was getting married in Charleston that weekend, and the rehearsal dinner was the same night.


The afternoon was a blur -- chop, cook, set to simmer, get presentable and pre-celebrate the nuptials -- so when I returned to the Cain homestead, the beans were in full swing. Off with the jacket, roll up the sleeves -- there's catching up to do.

In my experience, the Cain table is one of the great spaces to spend leisure time. With a few chairs and a wooden bench along one side, it's worn from constant use, and a multi-purpose gathering spot of the old school. It's used for morning coffee, afternoon homework sessions, art projects and everything in between.

This night, the surface was covered with bowls and plates in various states of emptiness. Adults were luxuriating over beers and tea. The younger kids sat in laps or hovered nearby -- the older kids went off to play in the adjacent living room. The din was fantastic.

Of course, there were plenty of familiar faces from the last trip -- Kimberly Anderson (ballerina/horse trainer) brought her husband Ian, Sharon Fish accompanied her kids Wren and Ellie (She Who Knows Things & Rolls Her Eyes). The children paired off by age group and played as we ate and talked about work and summer plans.

The next day, the connectors would be bound for another life with the grandparents in Berlin and beyond. We'd stay connected through the magic of the web.

As we laughed and caught up or got introduced, Dr. Greg worked late night at his hospital's Emergency Room. He'd finish his twelve-hour shift just in time to run home, drive his family to the airport, and say goodbye before collapsing from exhaustion.

We made sure to raise a glass to him and (more importantly) set aside a bowl for the good doctor. Physicians gotta eat, too…

Back in NO: Sifting, sifting, sifting


The first official leg of the RBRS is completed, and I'm back in the familiar Faubourg Marigney coffice (coffee shop/office), considering life NOT on the move for just a little while. The car is parked, and there's some more moving to be done, and over the next week or so, i'll be writing, posting and processing all the fun I had touring the southeast. Picrtures to come. Recipes to consider. A few thoughts on smuggling whiskey up and sodee water back down. But meantime, here's a few stats on the trip thusfar:

  • Miles: approximately 2900
  • States: 6
  • Stops: 11
  • Pounds o' beans cooked (dried): 22
  • Pounds o' pork consumed: 18

It'll take a day or so of NON motion for the lessons to sink in, but look for more frequent updates in the coming days...

And thanks to all who hosted, cooked and visited on this go-round. T'was a hell of a ride...

Welcome to the Road Show (a brief intro)


The Red Beans Road Show is a moveable feast -- an automotive culinary journey that should take up the better part of Summer 2009. With a crate full of kitchen and a cooler packed with plenty of deep-smoked andouille, I'm currently steering my trusty Subaru wagon (the KITCHNCAR)  through the southeastern US, filling tables with family, friends and friendsoffriends, treating all to New Orleans' Monday night staple: red beans and rice.

If you've never had Louisiana Red Beans, check the header for a basic introduction to the beloved New Orleans specialty, along with recipes, cultural context and ingredient sources.

I'm launching this site from the road (currently in Charleston, South Carolina), so look for it to develop as I make my way through Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and other stops in the weeks to come. Photos, stories and a fantastic cast of characters along the way.

Meantime, take care and somewhere down the road...

best, Pableaux Johnson

Welcome to the Road Show

If you're showing up here today (Thursday, 6/11) , you got wind of the early launch via FaceBook or Twitter. Annnnnnd velllkummmm to the show.

I'm a few parties in the hole (a perfect recovery day in Atlanta, Deutscheish goodbye in Charleston, a Tybee Island kick-turn), but there's no time like the present for a launch. Look for updates and interface tweaks (more pix, bells and whistles) in the coming days.

Better to launch and adjust than wait 'til it's perfect, doncha know.

Meantime, off the computer and on to the road.

North Carolina, you're next...

Raleigh NC (Part the Second) : Industry Night in the Triangle (the Sketch)

raleigh crowd (McCord Dance Remix)

raleigh crowd (McCord Dance Remix)


Head Count: 26

The Crowd: Doctors, lawyers, food fiends, brewers, book folk, reporters, well-fed tech folk, bakers, local chefs, line cooks, descendents of a famous Marquis, cutlery experts, best 8-year-old sous chef EVER.

Bean Batches: 3 (2/1 meaty to non)

The Stove:. Electric disks, plenty of room itn the kitchen

Quotes of the night (appropriately out of context):

"The walls are carpeted. It's a cat's wet dream to live in this place." -- Dean McCord, Esq.

"I ain't a country cook. You want that? YOU go ask your MAWmaw" -- April McGregor (quoting her mother with total attitude and SERIOUS Oprah neck)

"That's more Chapel Hill people than I've seen in Raleigh in while. It was like the UN." -- Heather Hesketh

"I'm really not that full." (two bites later) "I'm miserable. I can't stand it. That wall is always one bite away, isn't it?" -- Phoebe Lawless

Admirer: "Nice loafers. Are those nickels?" Bill Smith: "Well no... they're yen."

"You know, we've had a lot of spillage tonight." Dr. Marcella McCord, during cleanup triage

Raleigh NC: Night of the Fast Talkers (the Sketch)


Head Count: 10

The Crowd:.Techies, entrepreneurs, labor organizers, sales folk, active and former reporters, translators and the Heaviest Baby in the World.

Bean Batches: 2 (both meaty)

The Stove:. Electric disks, plenty of room in the kitchen

Quotes of the night (appropriately out of context):

"There was no stalking involved. My grandmother had polio. It would have been an easy catch." -- Jeff Alsberg

"And obviously, tequila is a wonderful thing." - Heather Hesketh

"The first time he brought me flowers, I screamed at him for three hours." -- Patricia Ivona MDS Meriera Colburn

"In the Congo, I might have a grill. In this condo, no.." - Rafe Colburn

"It cost me a lot of money to make this cat have fluids." -- HH

"So in Syracuse, I was playing poker with a guy who used to be in the Bangladeshi secret police..." -- Steve Champeon

Monday Map Check: Leavin' TN for Later...


Another Monday finds me shifting the Roadshow itinerary ever so slightly, since life on the road is all about flexibility.

I'm loading up the car today and headed from the beautiful mountains of Asheville back to sprawling Atlanta. The original plan (Maryville/Nashville/Atlanta) got tweaked a bit, but comfortably so. It's been nearly 3 weeks on the road, and i'm looking forward to a little time in Louisiana before the next leg begins in mid-July.

The next leg, as it looks right now, will be Largely Midwestern (including stops in Hot Springs AR, Columbia MO, Memphis, Nashville, LVLL and points other). The wish list grows and changes. It'll be fun.

But now, to pack. Next stop, Atlanta. Birmingham on deck...

Week's End Update:: Headed West


It's been a busy week in North Carolina -- with plenty of cookin' and visits with friends of MANY different eras. There's been rhubarb Berliner Weisse beer, devilled eggs in LSU colors, and the scent of early summer gardenias wafting through the air. I've got plenty of material to work with, but for now I'm packing up the KitchenCar and pointing my way toward Asheville for a visit with the Pixie Twins, Aimee Ellingson and Chuck Krekelberg (New Orleans folks and co-conspirators from our days with the Krewe du Vieux).

ANyway, I know that I'm a wee bit behind on my RBRS write-ups, but to be honest, I've been subscribing to the "live it first, write it later" school of thought. (And not to mention, been cooking a heck of a lot and squeezing in work in between.) So just to keep track, here's a list of upcoming episodes --

  • Savannah GA (on Tybee Island)
  • Raleigh NC 1 (Fast Talkers in the House of Wonders)
  • Raleigh NC 2 (Cook's Night Off)
  • Triangle Reunions (portraits, etc.)
  • Various Roadside Flashbacks

As befits a new project, I'm still working out kinks in the system  (see posted sketch from Savannah) but will likely settle into a short-then-long rhythm as time passes.

Meatime, it's off to the hills. It's been a great time, Carolina. I'll be back sooner than either of us think...

Savannah GA: 3 Generations on Tybee (THe Sketch)


Head Count: 6 plus kids

The Crowd: extended family,

Bean Batches: 1 meaty

Quotes of the night (appropriately out of context):

"I'm the Ice Cream Pirate!" -- Lawson Katz

Sister Lourdes: "Yes, I AM a nun, but I'm also Anne's sister." Px: (confused pause) "So wait… You're A sister and you're also HER sister?" SL: "Yes." Px: "sister Sister?" SL: "Exactly."

Monday Map Check: No mo VA


So it looks like, in keeping with the show's free-form nature, that the itinerary is going to change a bit. Buddy and former New Orleanian Chad Lavin, the reason for schlepping to fair Blacksburg VA, is being held hostage by contractors in Rochester NY and won't be in the Commonwealth this week.

So the map has been altered just a wee bit. Next stop, Asheville NC sometime midweek.

The intinerary change is noted on the Google Map. (Jebus, i love this new technology.)

Tonight, a gathering at Mr. Dean McCord's place and a cast of the Triangle's food mafia. We have been promised QUALITY TROUBLE for the evening. Oh. Hell. Yeah.