By Troy Gilbert and Chef Greg Picolo with Dr. W. Kenneth Holditch
reviewed by Erin Z. Bass
You may have thought about what it would be like to have dinner with Tennessee Williams. Or maybe you've only thought as far as drinks with the playwright. Regardless, the restaurant would probably be in New Orleans' French Quarter, and you know the conversation would be good.
New Orleans native Troy Gilbert and Chef Greg Picolo of Bistro Maison de Ville have taken the idea a step further in their new book, "Dinner With Tennessee Williams," released just in time for what would have been his 100th birthday on March 26. Part food memoir and part cookbook, the book includes more than 80 recipes that would have delighted Williams' on any given evening. Each chapter is based on a play and delves into Williams' references to food, whether it be in "A Streetcar Named Desire," "The Glass Menagerie" or "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
Tennessee Williams spent his childhood in the Mississippi Delta, eating fried chicken and turnip greens and drinking sweet tea. He came to the New Orleans French Quarter for the first time in 1938 and got a room on the third floor
Photograph of Tennessee Williams, 1956, Courtesy of Estate of Yousuf Karsh. http://www.karsh.org
A Streetcar Named Desire
Curtain rises in darkness. Music of a small jazz band is heard off. Lights come up slowly, revealing the two rooms of the KOWALSKI apartment in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In the bedroom at L., STELLA KOWALSKI lounges in a rickety armchair, fanning herself with a palm-leaf fan, and eating chocolates from a paper bag. She is reading a movie magazine.
So begins the now-infamous 1947 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tennessee Williams. As noted, the setting is the New Orleans French Quarter, and the city pays tribute to its deceased resident playwright each year with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. Starting on Wednesday, Tennessee's life and work will be felt all over the quarter, from a screening of the movie version of "A Streetcar Named Desire" atop the Chateau Bourbon Hotel to theater productions, writers' panels and even a Stanley and Stella shouting contest. No Tennessee Williams event would be complete without a little Stellaaaaaaaa!
Participants in the 2009 Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest.
Photo by Earl Perry
While the festival is bringing in a who's who of the literary scene for panel discussions and