Put on your little black eggcup dress we’re going to an eggcup party!

April 18, 2011

Down in New Orleans when it was a French colony, when “The French Quarter” was all there was and when French was the spoken language, a talented barman worked for a popular hotel which is still standing today. The barman became famous for inventing a new style of drink, which he made using an eggcup (“coquetier” in French) for exact measures of alcohol, mixed in a variety of ways. This style of drink became known as the “coquetier”.

Napolean sold Louisanna to the United States in the early 1800s and with the gradual anglicisation of the city of New Orleans, the coquetier became known as the cocktail.

All I can say is, thank goodness they didn’t go for the direct translation!

At Patrick O’Brians in New Orleans last Saturday night I was with a group of young researchers from Canada who I had met during the conference I was attending. Upon their recommendation I tried a cocktail known as “The Hurricane”. It was tall and red. It tasted benignly like fruit punch.

The New Orleans French Quarter Festival had been in full swing. As I learnt from the young Canadians, people had been trading strings of beads for a kiss or a show of flesh. Many of the young researchers in my group that night had multiple sets of beads. We joked about how they had obtained them. As the night wore on the photos we took of our group became interlaced with beads hanging over our faces from person to person. Beads were swapped. I started with none, possessed five strings at one point, and ended the night with one set. The girls in the group took multiple photos. I haven’t seen the images, but I’m sure they would accurately document our deterioration.

Two hurricanes later, I discovered that they contained four shots of rum each. By this time the room was spinning and I became acutely aware that the fun night I had had had come to an end. A kind professor in the group escorted me home. I was unwell. I woke the next morning unable to attend the breakfast meeting I had planned to attend. Unfortunately also that morning I was scheduled to present my research.

I struggled to the conference venue and held it together to deliver my paper. The audience were none-the-wiser. However, I had been excited to have been programmed on with someone who’s work I had read and wanted dearly to meet. Unfortunately, with my stomach churning, I was unable to stick around. I stayed for the duration of the session (mine and four other papers) and received thoughtful and helpful feedback from the session’s discussant before quietly venturing back to the security of my hotel room. There I slept for four hours before the hurricanes released their grip.

As luck would have it, through sheer good fortune and general worldly randomness, I bumped into this researcher the following night. We happened to be dining at the same restaurant and were re-introduced by a mutual acquaintance. She smiled broadly and I said,”You look familiar!”

We placed each other after a moment or two as having presented in the same session. It was then that I admitted I had been “under the weather” on that day. Surprisingly she said, “Oh, me too!”

That day I had been on a walking tour of the French Quarter where I learnt the story about the “coquetier”. It was fresh on my mind and our topic of dangerous drinking prompted me to retell the story. Together with her colleagues with whom she was dining, we enjoyed the absurdity of putting on a little black eggcup dress. After that we discussed our research pursuits. She asked to read my conference paper and I am pleased that she will be sending me an article she is working on. I have a lot of respect for the kind of work she does and am very pleased to have made her acquaintance.

Pat O’Brians, famous for Hurricanes.

A taste of The French Quarter Festival – swing dancing in the street.


4 Responses to “Put on your little black eggcup dress we’re going to an eggcup party!”

  1. zhisou said

    I never knew a cocktail was an eggcup. Looks lovely, hope you’re having a great time

  2. Oops… those hurricanes will get you every time. At least the hangover didn’t last too long and you got through your presentation. Where were the Canadians from?

    • ejenne said

      Hi Kate, I wish someone had warned me! The Canadians were from Uni of British Columbia and McGill (Vancouver). In fact next years conference is going to be in Vancouver!

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