Local nutritionist Bianca Plant releases cookbook “Eating God’s Way”

DENVER, August 2018 – Cenece Dixon Publishing’s new release, Eating God’s Way Introduces Eating to Live: A Healthy Living Cookbook by Bianca Plant, MPA, reminds readers, “It’s Not a Diet; It’s a Lifestyle!”

Eating God’s Way Introduces Eating to Live: A Healthy Living Cookbook features simple, healthy recipes catering to the whole family. Many of the recipes are heart healthy and extremely suitable for diabetics.

Eating God’s Way Introduces Eating to Live: A Healthy Living Cookbook provides cooking ideas that reach the soul and also provides a daily food journal and goal setting so the reader can keep a better account of what they consume so they can meet and exceed weight-loss goals.

A great read for teens to adults who like to cook but don’t know where to start or what to cook. This healthy living, clean eating cookbook includes inspirational quotes, scriptures, and vital information for those struggling with weight issues affecting them spiritually, mentally, and physically. Eating God’s Way Introduces Eating to Live: A Healthy Living Cookbook helps readers cook affordable, healthy meals that taste good.

If you would like more information about this topic or to schedule an interview with Bianca Plant, please call Bianca at 337.371.1207.

About the Author:

Bianca Plant, MPA, is a certified Nutritionist and Food Blogger. Her mission is to educate the community through food blogging recipes and illustrating healthy ways of living, physically and spiritually.

More About This Title:

Eating God’s Way Introduces Eating to Live: A Healthy Living Cookbook will be released by Cenece Dixon Publishing in August 2018. Eating God’s Way – ISBN 9781721856978 – has 112 pages and is being sold as a trade paperback for $25.

About Cenece Dixon Publishing:

Cenece Dixon Publishing publishes trade quality titles designed to educate, encourage, inspire, or entertain readers with current, consistent, relevant topics that are available everywhere books are sold. (www.CeneceDixonPublishing.com)


OFA guard Janero Porter officially signs with Tabor College

ON THE MOVE- MAIS All-Star point guard Janero Porter has officially signed with Tabor College from Hillsboro, Kansas. Photo by Matthew Roy.

By Jesse Brooks

AMITE- Janero Porter, a senior that graduated at Oak Forest Academy this spring, has signed an official full-ride athletic scholarship from Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas this week. Porter first received the offer on June 2.

“It was a fun experience,” Porter said of his time looking back at OFA. “I didn’t know what it would be like transitioning from being a homeschooled student to attending private school but the friends I made here were amazing.”

Porter, a resident of Mandeville, transferred to Oak Forest for his junior season. He battled through injuries after arriving, causing him to see limited time on the court. However, he bounced back for his senior season to average 14 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals per game.

Porter flies high for a rebound. Photo by Matthew Roy.

“Janero helped lead our program as a point guard and he’s been a pleasure to coach,” Jacket head coach Curtis Matherne said. “The basketball I.Q. and the decision making is what separates Janero from a lot of point guards. He makes the right basketball play a high percentage of the time, which put us in a great position to win games.”

During his senior season, Porter received MAIS First Team All-District, All-State, and was a MAIS All-Star selection. Porter’s Yellow Jackets advanced as far as the semifinal round in MAIS Div. 1 AAAA, falling to Madison-Ridgeland Academy 65-63.

“The way he handles the basketball and passes the ball will definitely benefit Tabor and they will fall in love with him immediately,” Matherne said.

In the fall, Porter will arrive on a Blue Jay squad that is looking for a playmaker after finishing 14-15 last season in the NAIA. Porter is the second player from OFA to sign an official offer from an NAIA school in his class. On May 10, forward Chris Backa signed with LSU-Alexandria.

Though mostly unnoticed despite a strong season, Matherne expresses regret that more prospects are not on the radar of local Louisiana colleges. He also expressed that he believed Porter’s skill set will translate to the college game and hopes that his play will help influence scouts to start paying more attention to players closer to home.

Hwy. 51 Revisited: Oxford, Mississippi Pt. 1


Town Square in Oxford, MS. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

By Jesse Brooks

Our second side as we move north on Highway 51 will take us to the literary hub of Oxford, Mississippi. When the county seat of Lafayette County was founded in 1832, they chose to call it Oxford after the university city in England in hopes of promoting the new settlement as a center of learning. In 1841, the state legislature selected Oxford as the future site of the University of Mississippi, affectionately known as “Ole Miss.”

In the 1860s, the Civil War came to town. Out of Ole Miss’ entire student body, 135 out of 139 students enlisted with the Confederate army, and all lost their lives in battle. Most of the town was lost when Union Major General Andrew Jackson Smith ordered it burned. Most of what is seen today in Oxford’s town square was constructed in the Reconstruction Era. Federal Judge Robert Andrews Smith lobbied for federal funds that led to the construction of the now famous county courthouse in 1872 that rests in the middle of the town’s British-looking town square. This period also ushered in a movement of African-American freedmen who moved their families out of the country and into town to build houses, businesses, churches and schools.

James Meredith became the first African-American to attend Ole Miss in 1962, but the process wasn’t easy. His impending enrollment sparked a riot on campus that was supported by pro-segregationist Governor Ross Barnett. President John F. Kennedy put an end to the deadly riot that claimed the life of a French reporter and an Oxford repairman by sending in the National Guard. The Lyceum, the scene of the riot, is registered as a national landmark, and a statue in tribute to Meredith now resides on campus.



The home of American author William Faulkner. Photo by Jesse Brooks

For years, Oxford has been a home to artists and writers that witnessed the struggle for economic freedom and civil liberty. The biggest giant of them all was William Faulkner. The Oxford native was influenced by modernist writers like James Joyce as a young man and began developing his style in the stream of consciousness mold. Always conflicted with the South’s social state, he moved to New Orleans in the 1920s where he would develop some of his earliest writing. After a brief screenwriting career in Hollywood, Faulkner returned to Oxford where he purchased Rowan Oak. The writer’s home is now a museum run by Ole Miss, and for a $5 daily admission fee, visitors get an insight of life inside his family home. His workroom is preserved with the storyboard of his novel “A Fable” still on the walls. The home is a two-story Greek Revival style house built in the 1840s. Faulkner’s home is essentially Southern. Though he seems to have held a conflicted relationship with his native land, as evident in his writing, it was a place he could never leave. It was both his frustration and his inspiration.



Square Books, a frequent haunt of literature lovers. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

Oxford’s literary culture often finds itself at Square Books in the town’s square. Faulkner’s works, as well the works of the generations of Southern writers he influenced, can be found there. Square Books offers everything from today’s cutting-edge fiction to rare signed first editions of classics.

Open to the public, the library at Ole Miss offers interesting archives on history subjects unique to the South and Mississippi. Visitors are often most drawn to their Blues and modern political archives. Their Blues archives are one of the most comprehensive sources of information on the musical genre that often has roots that are hard to trace. Their political registry tells the history of Mississippi and the story of Civil Rights in the state.

Oxford and nearby Water Valley’s culture were also preserved by its blues heritage. Though mostly unknown in past decades, artists like R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough were local legends of the area. In the 1990s, two editors from Living Blues Magazine founded Fat Possum Records. The label gave lost Mississippi bluesmen new life in a modern world. The label went on to produce records from crossover acts like The Black Keys and Iggy and The Stooges. In addition to local blues, Fat Possum now also produces young indie rock acts.

With great knowledge comes great culture, and that is what Oxford reflects today. Music, food, literature and more, are living and breathing rather than memories of the past. As we take a closer look next week, we will bring you everywhere you can find Oxford’s thriving culture.

Hwy. 51 Revisited: Greenwood, Mississippi

IMMORTAL- One of the three alleged gravesites for bluesman Robert Johnson in near Greenwood in Money, Mississippi. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

By Jesse Brooks

For the next two weeks, we will explore two visits that serve as side trips accessible from Highway 51: Greenwood and Oxford, Mississippi. Our first side trip, a route west of the highway, takes us to Greenwood, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.

The floodplains of the delta leave the land lush with vegetation and wildlife like a farmer’s paradise. In Greenwood’s earliest years, the economy was based on plantation farming that was centered on slave labor. Following the Civil War, businesses experienced devastating lows but were revitalized again as railroads were placed in the 1880s. Driving through Greenwood, it sometimes looks as if the area’s landscapes haven’t changed at all. There are small homes placed around large farming fields and marshy banks around creeks and rivers.

Our journey into Greenwood takes us likely south after leaving Grenada to find one of the three alleged grave sites of Robert Johnson, the bluesman whose life we explored in Hazlehurst. Johnson died near Greenwood, and over the years, there were many conflicting accounts that alleged to know where he was buried, and one of those sites is Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church. The journey to the site moves through an unincorporated area called Money, and to travel south on Money Road. Travelers approaching the turn at Whaley Road and Money Road are to encounter one of the most haunting sites in American history.

Just three miles before reaching Johnson’s grave, a historical marker near the tracks indicates the site of Bryant’s Grocery, the place where Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy, allegedly flirted with a young white shopkeeper. The incident led to Till’s brutal murder from the accuser’s husband and an accomplice. Though the evidence was overwhelming against the two men, an all-white jury found them “not guilty.” We have since learned as recent as 2017 that Carolyn Bryant Donham, Till’s accuser who is still living, fabricated her claims. The moment of injustice received international attention and is credited with sparking the Civil Rights Movement.

Three miles later, Johnson’s grave is found at Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church underneath a pecan tree. The environment is intensely quiet, and the nearby view is vast flat farmland. It’s found that Johnson fans leave guitar picks or money for good luck, or shots of whiskey to share a drink with the King of the Delta Blues Singers.

The road into town that is present day Greenwood leads you to find farmer’s markets and art markets on the weekends. The town also features several tours for visitors. The Robert Johnson Life and Legacy Tour is a guide to all of the musician’s stops while in the area. The Girlfriend’s Tour is a three-day women’s social event that highlights culture spots of the city ranging from restaurants to spas. The Help Tour will take visitors to all the locations involved in the filming of the movie that bares the tour’s name.

Greenwood’s most authentic dining experience can be found at Lusco’s, a seafood and steak restaurant that has been open since 1933. The restaurant was founded by Italian immigrants that moved from Louisiana to Greenwood for a business venture to serve Italian-Louisiana infused food. The original seating is in use today, and tables come in their own private sections. The menu features Louisiana favorites like gumbo and Delta favorites like catfish and boiled shrimp with greens.

Author James Charles Cobb once penned the Delta as “the most southern place on earth,” and after an experience there, it is hard to disagree. It is a place where the scars of history are just as present as a desire to move forward. As we find our way back to the highway, we move toward the home of Ole Miss and discover another place dedicated to preserving the past, as well as being a leading force in the thirst for knowledge.

Wing City: Hammond, Louisiana’s Top 10 Best Wings


By Jesse Brooks

While the world was sleeping, the city of Hammond, Louisiana quietly has become a kingdom for wings. No meetings were held, and a formal declaration may not have even been made, but Hammond has become a center for the best locally made wings in the last 15 or so years.

So let’s take a look at the trailblazers putting this college town on the map with America’s favorite bar food. There are the top 10 best wings in Hammond.

10. China Wok – 1320 N Morrison Blvd, Hammond, LA 70401


For years now, China Wok has been serving up some of the best value meals to Southeastern students living on a budget. For about $7-8 you can get a fried wings and pork fried rice box. The wings are plain but they’re lightly fried and crispy, and the friend rice makes the perfect compliment. Mix it up with any combination of soy, duck or sriracha sauce and you’ll eat like a king.

9. Big Al’s Burgers – 14605 W University Ave, Hammond, LA 70401


Big Al’s has been a recent welcomed addition to the Hammond food scene. It features a simple menu of burgers, po boys and wings. The wings here about medium sized and not over fried. They offer familiar flavors like BBQ, lemon pepper and buffalo.

8. Salty Joe’s BBQ – 43344 South Range Rd. Hammond, Louisiana


Hammond doesn’t have a long tradition of barbeque, but Salty Joe’s is giving it a go, and doing a pretty good job at it. The wings here are smoked, making them the only ones on our list that aren’t fried. They come in original and spicy, and their smoked method makes the wings tender with meat falling off the bone.

7. Bone-A-Fide Wings & Things – 46289 N Morrison Blvd, Hammond, LA 70401


In recent years, Bone-A-Fide has made their presence known. They have continued to add to the menu and have many favorites that leave customers coming back for more. The recommended flavor here is lemon pepper, and be sure to grab a side of mac-and-cheese with every meal.

6. Super King Seafood – 411 West Thomas St. Hammond, Louisiana 70401


Super King is super dope when it comes to big order boiled seafood like crawfish and crabs, but did you know they have some of the best wings in town? Super King’s hot wings are not to be confused with buffalo wings. They’re fried in an Asian style batter full of spice. Make sure grab a cold beverage with a wing and fried rice box.

5. Mariner’s Inn – 117 W Thomas St Hammond, Louisiana 70401


Mariner’s is a Hammond staple and classic in everything they do. They are one of the city few late night spots, closing at midnight, making them a favorite with college students, service industry workers and the bar crowd. So naturally wings are a fit. Mariner’s offers one of the purest traditional buffalo wings found in Hammond.

4. Coop DeVille – 1750 W Thomas St, Ste I Hammond, Louisiana 70401


Coop DeVille is ground zero for Hammond’s wing wave. Before them, there were not any wing specific restaurants and they set the standard with a vast menu of different flavors. Bacon and Cheddar wings are probably the most unique ones here.

3. City Empire – 1304 W. Thomas Street Hammond, Louisiana 70401


City Empire is the newest establishments on the scene and they’ve already shown great promise. The price is great as they offer a four piece wings and friends deal for $5.00. They also close at midnight, and 3 a.m. on the weekends, making them one of the most reliable late night spots in the city. Their wings are plump, flavorful and made to order.

2. Tommy’s on Thomas – 216 W Thomas St, Hammond, LA 70401
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Known for pizza, Tommy’s has the absolute best buffalo wings in the city hands down. They’re breaded, one of the few on our list, but the batter isn’t thick. Tommy’s wings are jumbo in size and pair well with the house made ranch dressing and a cold brew. They also have a Voodoo BBQ flavor that is pretty good as well.

1. Chef’s Wings – 408 SW Railroad Ave, Hammond, LA 70403


We are crowning Chef’s Wings as the best of Hammond because they score points across the board in wing criteria. Their wings are medium in size, never over fried and there’s a decent variety of flavors. The two best flavors here are lemon pepper and sweet red chili. Those looking for heat in their buffalo will find it here so choose your temperature carefully.


Former Independence ball player competes for spot to open for Migos in new rap career

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One shot- Quentin Burkhalter (a.k.a. Quentin the 5th) performs an audition to open for Migos, Lil Baby, Blac Youngsta and Tammy Rivera at the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, Louisiana on June 29. 

By Jesse Brooks

Tangipahoa Parish produces s many standout athletes that it’s not a mystery why so many have dreams of going pro. However, “going pro” means something totally different to Quentin Burkhalter, who goes by the stage name Quentin the 5th. On June 12, Quentin put his rhyming skills to the test by auditioning for a chance to open for Atlanta hip-hop recording artists and national sensation Migos at the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, Louisiana on June 29. Also performing on that date are touring partners Lil Baby, Blac Youngsta and Tammy Rivera.

The move is an ambitious one for the young artist embarking on a post-college career. Rapping was once a hidden talent for Quentin, but now he is putting his self out there by taking chances.

Quentin called Amite his hometown, but he attended Independence High Magnet School where he was a basketball player for the Tigers.

“I played football, basketball and a little track. Basketball was my favorite,” Quentin said. “I probably could’ve done more but I stopped focusing on sports whenever I discovered that I was a good rhymer. Kept it a secret until it kinda leaked out but now it’s coming out the bag, so to speak.”

Quentin attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette after high school and it was there he started to focus on his craft.

“Music has aways been around me,” Quentin said. “I’ve been around for 4-5 years. Just relaxing and crafting. I listen to anything I get my hands on and have a lot of influences.”

Quentin says that he was also exposed to music from a young age as his mother was a dance instructor and he spent a lot of time around his school’s marching band. Now, he’s focused on putting it all together.

As far as other rappers he looks up to, Quentin has named Curren$y, J. Cole and Big Krit to be some of his favorites. Quentin’s style is very chill and concise. He has a social conscious and has a knack for strong storytelling. Shortly after creating a Soundcloud profile Quentin earned several thousand plays on line for a track called “Backwoods”.

The early online success caught the eyes and ears of Shaq Cosse, a writer for The Source Magazine. Cosse praised Quentin for being unique and creative and says he believes that he has Kendrick Lamar levels of potential.

If all goes well following the audition, it could lead to the next big step in Quentin’s road of progression. For the contest, Quentin performed an original track called “Stevie Wonderful”, an old school inspired track.

If you’d like to vote for Quentin’s audition advancement, please visit https://form.jotform.com/81628388034159 and vote for #22.

REVIEW: Punjabi Dhana serves Hammond, Louisiana its first taste of Indian Cuisine


HOT LIKE CURRY- Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine is the first culinary venture of its kind in Hammond, Louisiana. Photo by Jeremy Rhodes.

By Jeremy Rhodes

Scientists say that our sense of smell holds the strongest potential of memory. I claim this to be self evident being that I wish to relive the memory of walking into Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine for the first time. Hearing the appeasing songs of Indian pop music and smelling the aroma of some of the finest Indian food I have ever had brought me to a scerine place in my mind. In my ignorance I could never imagine such a culinary blessing to grace Hammond America, but fear not readers, Indian Food is closer to home than you could imagine. At first glance, Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine only looks like a gas station because it is, the Best Stop 34 to be exact. Look beyond the humble interior because behind the doors lies a treat for the senses.

I was in a jovial state of mind by all the options that were presented before me. Not only was the menu concise and informative, it also gave the option of mild, medium or spicy for all the dishes. For the sake of retelling my experience to others, I decided to order the scipy version of the Butter Chicken. I chose this dish because I feel that the Butter Chicken is a good starting point for any newcomers who may never have had Indian cuisine before and I wanted to face the trust behind the infamous overbearing spiciness that is notorious with Indian Cuisine.


Photo by Jeremy Rhodes.

In response, I say with all honesty that the Butter Chicken was an absolute delight. This dish alone could convert anyone sits on the fence of suspicion. There was a euphoric wave of joy in every spoonful I had. The cream in the dish cut the spiciness without leaving any flavor out. The dish is served with traditional brass bowls and Indian rice. With the Indian music playing behind me and the dishes steaming before me I could close my eyes and be at complete peace in the world.

I was joined by friends on this culinary conquest, to which they ordered the Chicken Vindaloo and the Palak Kofta. The Chicken Vindaloo had a savory spice found in the garlic tomato sauce. The hidden gem about this dish are the potatoes that compliment the sauce by absorbing vast amounts of flavor. Though this dish had quite a spicy kick, it is the flavor that brings out the love and tradition that cooked with it. The Palak Kofta is a vegetarian dish with a thick, hearty spinach sauce. I truly love this dish for the mixed vegetable balls that come with it shows the powerful taste possibilities vegetables can have.

I will be frank when I say that the location of this restaurant is not the best place to hold such majestic food but I sit back and think how perfectly quaint it is for Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine to be found in a gas station. It is as if this restaurant challenges the adventurous eater to find them and in result find culinary bliss.

Photo by Jeremy Rhodes.

While talking with customers around me I found that many of them were returning customers. It is as if these partitions discovered a goldmine and have fallen madly in love with what is offered. One customer, Wade Bridges, was eating here to celebrate his birthday. Bridges was very passionate about his love of Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine and recalls his first time trying their food by saying, “I was super trebadacious about Indian food and I didn’t know anything about it going in. I found that it is absolutely an experience. We are from the South we know spice we can handle that, this is a completely different kind. This is flavor this is not just straight heat.” When asked about how he would sell the idea of Indian food to a person who has never had it he said, “Honestly, I am just going to continue to rave about it. How good it is and how filling it is.”

My overall thoughts on this restaurant is that this is an eatery I want to see flourish. The herbs and spices experienced here awakened tastebuds I did not know I even had. I think the consensus from fans of Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine is that this place has great food. I agree with this, however, not only is this a great restaurant I also believe this is an important restaurant. Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine brings a hidden gem of culture to Hammond. The south’s comfort food is about bringing three things to the table; food, smiles and community. I saw with my own eyes complete strangers talking to each other while enjoying this food. It is as if the flavors melted our guard we tend to build around ourselves. Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine is a place to be adventurous, satisfied and happy.

Hwy. 51 Revisited: Granada, Mississippi

By Jesse Brooks

As Highway 51 approaches Highway 8, the route faces a crossroads again. Grenada, Mississippi. There’s a town square with local businesses sitting all in a neatly kept row. The further down the highway we go, the scene begins to look familiar. So, why come to Grenada? The answer may be the water.



VIEWS- The edge of Granada Lake. Photo by Jesse Brooks

Grenada was formed in 1836 after the rival towns of Pittsburg and Tullahoma were joined together in a “marriage ceremony” to combine the population. Prior to the arrival of the railroad in the 1860s, Grenada’s trade operated through transportation on the Yalobusha River.

East of the river sits the present day site of Grenada Lake, a reservoir constructed to help regulate flooding along the Yazoo River Basin. The dam was built in 1954 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a $32 million price tag.
On the south end of the massive lake, Hugh White State Park, named for a Mississippi state governor, is located. The park is home to one of the best campgrounds Mississippi has to offer. This biggest attraction of the state park is fishing in Grenada Lake. Mostly popular among crappie fishermen, the lake is also plentiful with bass, bream, and catfish. Hugh White State Park is a popular destination for overnight campers. Aside from locations for RVs and tents, there are numerous sites that feature cabins with plenty of scenic views of the lake.
Families ready for a nice dinner after experiencing some outdoor life may feel called to visit the 333 Restaurant. With a $11-30 price range, the best “bang-for-your-buck” can be found at this seafood-and-steak restaurant where portions often leave out in “to-go” boxes. Mississippi Delta favorites like bacon-wrapped shrimp can be found here, either as a main course, an appetizer, or side to go with a top-rated steak. With fried catfish, fried chicken, crawfish, ribs, and much more, there are plenty selections in which to choose what your heart may desire.

As travelers get back on the highway leaving Grenada, it’s important to note the landscape is beginning to change a lot since coming up further south. Grenada is right on the edge of the delta, and the lush hill country reflects that. As the water flows, so does the migration of people for generations. As for travelers on this highway, prepare to be further soaked in the weight of the Mississippi Delta.

EDITORIAL: Saying Goodbye to Anthony Bourdain is Nearly Impossible


By Jesse Brooks

As I write this, we are at the end of the second day since we learned that we lost Anthony Bourdain, world-renown chef, television host and author. He took his life at the age of 61.

On Thursday night, I was preparing to go to bed and I was bored. My wife, a nurse, was working a night shift at the hospital and I needed to pass the time. I opened my laptop and decided to stream Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown. I watched an episode where he visits the wild picturesque southern coastline of Italy’s heel. The lasting image I had of Bourdain before I fell asleep was of someone incredibly alive, engaged and fearless.

Imagine the confusing shock when I woke up at 7 a.m. the next morning to read the terrible news. I checked every avenue to make sure it was not a social media hoax. In the most abrasive way, I was introduced to a new reality about someone I had felt connected to ever since the beginning of my self discovery period as an young adult.

There was a lot to unpack that morning emotionally. I had a day full of duties I had to carry out but I felt I was moving slower and out of step. I have seen celebrities come and go in my lifetime, but this one stuck with me.

I remember when Prince died a couple of years ago I found it sad, and I understood his status as an icon and the influence he left behind. But I felt a kind of grief for Bourdain I had never felt for someone I never actually met. Why?

I enjoy cooking, but I have never been a chef. I grew up rural and have never been a resident of a mega city. I have never had a drug habit that I needed to rehab from, and though I have been known to enjoy a drink or three, my consumption of alcohol has never resulted in an addiction problem. I have been outside of the U.S. on three short, very controlled trips. So how is it that I could ever see a version of myself in him?

I started watching a lot of things on the Food Network and Travel Channel out of boredom when I was high school if nothing was on MTV or Comedy Central. My family planned a lot of summer road trips, and I would be curious about possible new destinations. In the mix of programming, Bourdain was there. It felt like he was always there. In keeping in the spirit of my family’s “do as the locals do” road trip attitude, Bourdain’s narratives always stood out to me as better than ones found on other shows. Not only was he someone we got to know, he was someone we trusted.

So the more familiar with culture programming I became, the more I sought Bourdain out. As I began to develop as person, I was observing his techniques, his takes, his swagger and his narrative. I was a young garage rocker coming up in the post-9/11, post-Katrina South, that began to feel that there were social, economic and political rules that needed to be challenged. I found that freedom in Bourdain and I wanted it for myself.

Bourdain also loved my native state of Louisiana, a place my early 20s self wanted to run away from. His love for New Orleans was immense and it was not a “city after the storm” kind of love. He had visited The Big Easy as far back as his 2002-03 show A Cook’s Tour, in an episode that featured him staying in the rooms above the R Bar on Frenchman Street and ordering take out from the Verti Marte food store. When it came to New Orleans, he just “got it”. Bourdain also visited Louisiana’s Acadiana region on No Reservations, and it reintroduced me to the cultures I have grown up with and taken for granted in my life. Bourdain recently returned to Southwest Louisiana to film a Cajun Mardi Gras episode of Parts Unknown, again, he got it. 

I began to notice Anthony Bourdain, not the celebrity chef, but the populist. Through his populism, it was becoming abundantly clear that untold narratives are everywhere in the world. At the end of the day, no matter if you live on the bluest of coasts or in mid-land red, you will find that most of us represent shades of purple when we sit together and break bread. You will not experience this in a comments section or message board. Understanding requires entry into reality and experiencing the world of fellow human beings.

Many hipsters will compare him to Hunter S. Thompson, and I suppose that’s fair enough, but to me Bourdain and his narrative reminded me of Ernest Hemingway, if he were a less violent and balanced character with the charisma for the television screen. His tales of beating addiction were inspiring and made people feel hopeful about themselves. If he could do that, you can do anything. I watched all the shows and read all his books.

When I began writing professionally, I would relate everything I did back to him. I wanted my voice to have his rhythm because Bourdain sounded like smooth jazz, just enough improvisation to be interesting and enough control to hold attention. When I started writing about culture, I realized that I don’t have an awesome budget, but what is in my backyard can be interesting because it’s foreign and exotic to someone out there. I learned that from him.

In 2016, I started a column as a staff member at the Amite Tangi Digest newspaper called “Hwy. 51: Revisited”. It focused on non-interstate highway travel from where I live in Tangipahoa Parish all the way to Memphis, Tennessee. All of these stops, mere hours away from my home, had surprising moments in the great timeline of American history. It was a journey of the bygone timber industry, development of the railroad, food, civil rights, blues and rock-n-roll. It was the story of us. I received a third place mention for the Sam Hannah Award for this column at the Louisiana Press Association Awards Ceremony the following summer. The project was completely inspired by the Jackson, Mississippi episode of Parts Unknown. 

I am completely aware that Bourdain motivated me to work. As I started to get recognized professionally for the first time in my life, people noticed this, mostly friends and readers, and I wore that badge proudly.

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Now in the wake of his passing, the void feels odd. Everything reminds me of him. In my small town of Hammond, Louisiana, there are now two pho restaurants, an Indian restaurant (in a gas station) and a ramen restaurant currently in construction. I honestly believe this incorporation of culture, once seen as foreign, in Small Town, U.S.A. does not happen without him. He changed the way we eat, and he changed the way we saw each other.

I feel losing him is different because it probably scares the hell out of all of us that saw a version of us in him. We wanted have his life that seemed to be free from darkness. However, as much as we may see our selves in him, or strived to be him, we need not to fear to live life with freedom and the understanding and care for others that he possessed. Bourdain fought a problem privately that is more common than we are willing to admit in America. To honor him, we must have empathy for those dealing with depression and advocate for them as he always did with cultures in need.

His mark on the world will live on. The best gift he gave to the world was confidence in his narrative, the outsider’s inside view, and may it stay alive for those seeking adventure.

“I don’t know any other way and by now I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Bourdain said in his last interview with Fast Company. “Life is good. Why settle for anything less?”

Oak Forest guard Janero Porter receives first college offer

TRUST THE PROCESS- Oak Forest Academy point guard Janero Porter has received his first college offer from Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas. Photo by Matthew Roy.

By Jesse Brooks

AMITE- Patience paid off for Janero Porter, a recent graduate of Oak Forest Academy, as he has finally received his first athletic scholarship to play basketball. The full ride opportunity comes from from Tabor College, a NAIA school from Hillsboro, Kansas.

Porter spent most of last season with a knee injury that held him to a minutes restriction when he did play. This season, he bounced back to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 20-10 overall record and a trip to the semifinal round of the MAIS AAAA Div. 1 State Tournament as the squad’s starting point guard.

Porter played as a facilitating point guard averaging 15.4 points, 8.7 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 5.1 steals per game for his senior season.

Tabor College is a member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference of the NAIA and finished with an overall record of 14-15 this season under head coach Micah Ratzlaff, who is in his 11th season with the Blue Jays.

Porter still has yet to determine is college landing spot. The siging period for NCAA Div. I basketball has closed, but he has until August 1 to sign a letter of intent for a school from Div. II, NAIA or junior college.

Porter is the second player from Oak Forest, under head coach Curtis Matherne, to receive a NAIA offer this season. Forward Chris Backa signed a letter of intent to play for LSU-Alexandria last month.