The Sacramento Jazz Jubilee this Memorial Day weekend is doing well muscially in its tribute to hurricane-wracked New Orleans, but if you head to one of the venues expecting concessionaires to acknowledge the Big Easy's other major contribution to American culture - the culinary arts - don't get your hopes up.
In visiting several of the venues Saturday, the only food and beverage we could find with a New Orleans attitude were the grilled oysters at the Firehouse Lot and brandy-laced coffee at Freeway Gardens, but if memory serves me correctly they're available every year. At Freeway Gardens you can find Italian sausage and Polish sausage, but no andouille sausage.
Nor, for that matter, could we find a muffaletta sandwich, a po' boy sandwich or even a beignet. Bartenders at the cocktail stands happily would mix us a Bloody Mary - another staple of the Jubilee - but if you asked about a Sazerac or French 75 you got a blank stare. We knew going in that the Hurricane is just too complicated to pull off in such casual settings, so we didn't even ask. Besides, this year it just might have been in bad taste to bring it up at all.
For the most part, gastronomy at the Jubilee is represented by such familiar foods a barbecued beef sandwiches, corn on the cob, garlic fries, pretzels and hot dogs, none of which is very representative of New Orleans. Next time the Jubilee's organizers choose a city or theme to recognize, may their good intentions include the food and beverage.
Most folks, however, attend the Jubilee for the music, and in that respect the entertainment is accomplished, spirited and varied, with groups like the Ophir Prison Kazoo Marching Band and Temperance Society, the King Cotton Jazz Band, Igor's Jazz Cowboys and D'Baba Project in especially fine form.