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CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — Welcome to Kathy’s Mermaid Lounge

The great outdoors has been our refuge in this season of distancing.
We crave connections and our porches, patios and backyard spreads have enabled us to visit friends and relatives, a few at a time. Have you styled your outside this season?
One beach-loving woman I visited has a name for her poolside space: Kathy’s Mermaid Lounge. This covered area is surrounded by vines and comfy seating and artwork depicting alluring mermaids. I have no doubt that once a guest has experienced this hospitable lounge, Kathy receives sea-themed décor that goes right into the mix. Kathy’s beach scene fairy garden for a friend made a big hit. Mermaids obviously attract other mermaids.
My mother hung up two souvenir signs proclaiming our patio French Quarter/Bourbon Street. Passersby sometimes wave and ask how things are in the Quarter. Maybe we’ll refer to it as Jeannette on the Quarter.
One more thing: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were served at the lounge, with tasters weighing in on how hot these actually are. That spicy orange dust covers one of my favorite snacks in a bag, but they’re mild on the heat for me. Others steered away, recalling past attempts.
If you have a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos experience, please share it with other Culinary Thrill Seekers.

Delta dining

I barely lost a bag of green beans over Laura’s power outage, but Delta took most of us by surprise. “Sweet Chaos” is handmade kettle corn and a fitting title for the trepidation of our outer-rim Delta experience.

This was my first time to eat my way through the wind, visible from the window. We ate through losing power and forced ourselves to stop and go to bed at nightfall, lest we begin to trip over our empty bags and bowls. We felt we were going to be pretty OK in the end and like so many, we knew we would be trying to save food from the freezer to eat later.

Here’s some of what went down, from the freezer and otherwise:

When bags of Sweet Chaos, kettle corn arrived, I had literally planned to budget the calories of each bag as a meal. That’s how much I love popcorn. Vanilla Chai and Maple Brown Sugar were the flavors and they were good as you can imagine with their real cane sugar background and popped in coconut oil. Delta had me eating these in public so I did have to share with my husband. He claims he doesn’t go for popcorn like I do, but no one could refuse these. sweetchaos.com
Mushroom Jerky by VEGKY: “Vegan ain’t boring!!” reads the label on mushroom jerky flavored with wasabi, curry, etc., and I’m loving what they call a “minimally processed and bursting with flavor” product. It does have a meaty texture but is easier on the teeth than beef. It’s called an umami-rich snack high in fiber. I would for sure buy these again. vegky.com
Pop Bitties are like thin little rice cakes but with actual flavor. Air popped ancient grains such as whole grain sorghum and brown rice are corn and gluten-free. I was supposed to share them with my gluten-free friend. I saved a few for her in the bag, so give me a little credit. They came in flavors such as vegan white cheddar and they certainly satisfy you as a snack and a base for something more substantial, like a yogurt dip.
Absolutely Gluten Free gives us Raw Coconut Chews in time to give all your nutty friends holiday pleasure. Are chocolate and cacao nibs my fave, or is it the cranberry option? I’ll have to finish both bags before making a decision. My gluten-free friend did get to sample these and got back to me with thumbs up. Absolutelygf.com
We weren’t hinting at all when a friend posted that he had power but we wound up on his patio to charge phones and he made us avocado toast and another family brought muffins. It was kind of a stone soup sharing that we can all use at times like this.
I ended up at Kathy’s Mermaid lounge for the third time with salmon from my freezer that she was going to cook on the grill. We couldn’t start the grill, but we ended up full of good vegetables anyway. The top mermaid requested we bring a little something to mix with strawberry flavor and duplicate a beverage she enjoyed in Myrtle Beach. Mionetto Prosecco was a good choice bringing a welcome, bubbly atmosphere to the gathering. It seems endless summer here – perhaps because of hurricane season? – but note that Mionetto Prestige Brut and Mionetto Prestige Rose Extra Dry are also light but fancy and festive choices that will carry you through the holidays. Mix it up or enjoy it from the bottle. Just promise to enjoy the rest of 2020. Website: usa.mionetto.com/us
My faithful childhood friend offered carport pasta in Delta’s aftermath and ice packs-to-go, in addition to a friendly face.

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who wonders what else 2020 will bring. Share your Flamin’ Hot Cheetos experience with her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com