December 20 2007 | Latest NewsNEW ORLEANS PRIDE, WEEK OF DECEMBER 10, 2007
IS THERE REAllY ONLY ONE, OR ARE THERE MilLIONS?
Johnny Carson once jokingly said there was only one fruitcake in the U.S. People just kept passing it around. He also had a list of the best ten uses for fruitcakes - Christmas tree stand, an anvil, build a fallout shelter, etc. The fact is there are millions more fruitcakes than there are jokes about the president and lawyers combined, and that's saying a mouthful. Make all the
jokes you want, say the good folks at Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas, for last year, they shipped 1.6 million. And, just think, they are just one of the hundreds and hundreds of companies that produce and sell the tasty item.
Life red beans and rice, there are many, many different ways to prepare them. Monks a the Trappist Abbey in Carlton, Oregon, have to make one of the very best. They make a cake that is, without question, finger-licking good. Their dense fruitcake is soaked in 120-proof brandy for three months, sliced thin and when held up to the light, the transparent fruit resembles that
of a stained-glass window. Six slices of the 120-proof cake are sure to put you into a heavenly mood. And, that's no joke.
NEW ORLEANS TERMINOLOGY
CONASSE - COON-ASS
The derogatory term "coon-ass" (referring to Louisiana Cajuns) is a relatively new term. In fact, it was unheard of before World Ware II and came about in the following way. During the war, the United States Army found itself woefully short of French interpreters. Prior to the time of the Allied Forces' invasion of the French coast of Normandy on June 6, 1944, a mad
scramble was made to find French interpreters. A good source was found in the bayou country of Louisiana. Many young Cajun boys were assigned as interpreters. The majority, even though interpreting for high-ranking French, British and American officers, had very little rank. The French officers, who were receiving their orders from the American staff officers, who at the time were running the European War, did so through young Cajun boys. They felt it was the ultimate insult. There was nothing lower than taking orders, even though not directly, from low-ranking enlisted men who they felt didn't even speak proper French. To show their animosity, they started referring to them as conasses.
The word conasse in the French language is a noun defined as meaning:
A. A stupid woman or man.
B. The word is used specifically for a bungling prostitute (whore jargon, around 1810-35).
C. Used to address a prostitute without a health card.
D. A man who does stupid things.
E. Grossly stupid person.
In time, the French word conasse was widely used by French troops in Europe to describe all interpreters, whether they were from Louisiana or not. American soldiers, now knowing any or very little of the French language started calling interpreters what they perceived to be the same insulting name the French were calling them - coon ass.
The term coon ass no doubt would have been lost if not for black gold (oil) being found in abundance in the Cajun country of Louisiana after World War II. Many of the young oilfield workers from Texas and other parts of the country had served in France and the rest of Europe alongside the Cajuns of Louisiana. If there was anything that their memories did fail them on, it was their remembrance of the coon-ass interpreters, which the French so disliked. Some said then being sent to Louisiana, they were exiled to coon-ass country. After getting to Louisiana, they soon pleasantly realized the Cajuns are the hardest-playing, fun-loving people God ever put on this good old Earth.
PEARLS OF WISDOM
One can pay back the loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind.