A typical New Orleans house pet
When I was first living in Cleveland, I was always expecting roaches to pop out from underneath the kitchen cupboards or to be running along the baseboards. It was just what I considered a normal expectation of life. However careful one may be, any food in New Orleans kitchens drew roaches, pure and simple. A typical "pet" was the large cockroach with the small head and large thorax and abdomen that runs about an inch and a half in length. There were also the smaller variety of German cockroaches with a smaller, less segmented body that were an inch or less in length. It wasn't until a few weeks after my stay in Cleveland due to what locals now call "the federal flood of 2005" that I began to notice there weren't any roaches in Cleveland. Apparently, the one benefit that those long bitter winters yields is a virtual eradication of the roach population. What few members of the crawling insect variety that choose to live in Cleveland are much smaller in scale and rarely sprout wings as their larger New Orleans cousins do. I mention this because last night I began to open up the cupboards where I had stored my non-kosher for Passover foods. As you might expect, I got the expected scurrying of unwanted pests as light hit the inside of the cabinets for the first time in over a week. Some of the New Orleans variety of cockroaches actually are fairly brazen. If the lights are on, they don't care. One can almost hear them shouting "Hey, buddy, turn that thing off!" Cockroaches, which can aggravate asthma and cause allergies leave a trail of their excrement behind them (sorry if you're eating when you're reading this), especially if they happen on to find crumbs or other food items inadvertently left on countertops. Trust me. Cleaning is a way of life that is necessary in New Orleans kitchens and bathrooms where the pesky critters seem to congregate. Local comedian Ricky Graham says you can tell a native from a visitor because natives know just the right amount of foot pressure to apply from their shoes to a cockroach to kill them, but not so much as to ruin the carpet.