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Quotes from

"The Anne Rice Calander for 1998"
(Never found a 99 one...)
Each month she writes about New Orleans, about the characters in her novels, about her childhood, her longings, her family, and her dreams.


MARCH

"If Ash Wednesday heralded quiet--true penance--New Orleans wouldn't be New Orleans. March 17 brings St. Patrick's Day. The beer at Parasol's bar in the Irish Channel is green for the occasion, people bake green bread, and a parade rolls through the old waterfront streets, from which maskers give out all the ingredients of an Irish stew: potatoes, cabbages, and carrots.

I love to watch my little cousins gathering another cabbage to have a cabbage ballgame afterward. Irish pride runs high in a city where so many came over as ballast on the Southern ships that had emptied their loads at European docks.

Then there's the haunting memory of the famine, Black 1847, when the Irish died like vermin. But now it's bands playing smartly, and Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. it's as if those dark times never existed.

Lent has to wait.

Two days later comes the Feast of St. Joseph, the great day for the Italians in the city. Families make immense alters, for which they cook weeks in advance, filled with delicacies and sweets to feed the folk and the poor.

In the Peppermill in Metarie, a genuine Italian restaurant, run by the Riccobono family, the St. Joseph's alter stands proudly, with a delicate Europeanized statue of the foster father of Our Lord. It is one of the few restaurants in the city where you can order the St. Joseph's Feast.

That's a New Orleans Lent for you, no matter how dedicated the preperations for Holy Week and Easter. This is a city where food means more than penance or pleasure.

The Irishman on the parade wagon with the cabbage in his hand is laughing at two hundred years of oppression. The Italians are breaking bread with one another as they have always done, in families and communities, celebrating the clan, the tribe, the eternal legacy of name spelled out in Sicily or Milan or Ellis Island.

March is for feasts. I draw deep on my Irish roots as I write, proud and slightly mystified by the ties that bind people here in New Orleans with such obvious joy.

Even the trees don't listen to Lenten sermons. Spring obdurately and magnificently begins."