Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Iraqi and American Students Dance in Pensacola

It’s been a busy week for the Gulf Coast Citizen’s Diplomacy Council, and its Executive Director, Jena Melancon Gissendanner as a group of Iraqi students in the U.S. Department of State’s International Youth Leadership Program arrived to stay with American host families, work, play and interact with American students, and participate in community activities.

At a special ceremony last night, participating students and host families were honored. Maren DeWeese, President of the Pensacola City Council presented Iraqi students honorary Pensacola citizen status. We got to see a video production that all the students were able to participate in creating, and, at the end, students told us in their own words how the week of interacting had changed their lives and perceptions.

One American teenager, DJ, told us that when it comes to cultures, adults may be different, but they had learned that teenagers have more in common than they have differences.

It made my heart sing. These young people will never forget the experience they have shared.

The evening ended with all the students demonstrating a Kurdish dance one of the students had taught them, Iraqis, Americans, guys and gals, all dancing this lively circle dance and loving every minute of their time together. You gotta love it.

Making a visit like this a success takes a lot of effort. So many people in Pensacola give of their time and energy and provide experiences for foreign visitors they would never otherwise have. The GCDC is an amazing organization; built on the commitment of citizens with a broad world vision. It makes us proud to be Pensacolians.

July 16, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Character, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Events, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Relationships, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Monday Night Blues at Five Sisters Blues Cafe in Pensacola

We kept wanting to go to Five Sisters Blues Cafe – everyone tells us it is a really fun place with great food – but it takes us a while to find it. I’m printing the Google map for you; it is at the corner of Belmont and DeVilliers. Not that hard to find if you know Pensacola, but we are still learning Pensacola.

Five Sisters exterior:

“Where’ve you been?” our waitress, Lisa, asked as we were seated. We must have looked goofy, we’ve never been there before, so we said, “this is our first time” and she laughed and said “I know that! I haven’t seen you before! We’ve been open a year! Where’ve you been?”

We just laughed, she had really caught us off guard. The place was packed, on a Wednesday afternoon, people all around us eating giant salads, plates heaped with fried chicken, everything we saw coming out to the tables looked delicious. Lisa brought us iced-tea, and I lost my heart, look, REAL mint in the tea, just like home . . .

We were overwhelmed. There is a lot going on in the restaurant, people laughing, art works on the walls, a new menu to peruse and we don’t know what we want. We finally decide to share the sampler platter with two fried green tomatoes, 4 crab cakes and 4 shrimp, which came with three very tasty sauces – WOW. Wowed right off the top:

AdventureMan even said, in wonder “This crab cake really tastes like crab with a C!” and it was. You know, the other kind, that calls itself crab, but is really flavored Alaskan pollock, and not crab at all? This was real crab, and it tasted crabby. Yummm.

AdventureMan had a vegetable platter. Now this is Southern cooking at it’s best, so don’t expect ‘vegetable’ to be Vegan. Even Mac and Cheese qualifies as a vegetable, and beans usually have some pork to flavor them, etc. He said the entire plate was delicious.

I tried something I had never had before, catish over grits. I never thought I liked grits until our daughter-in-laws stepmother (I know, I know, it sounds complicated, and it is another thing we have in common with people all over the world; we all have complicated relationships) made Smoked Gouda Grits one night with her Barbecued Shrimp and a whole new world opened up to me. Wooo HOOO. Anyway, I didn’t eat all the grits; the catfish was filling, but this dish knocked my socks off and I don’t think I could duplicate it, so I’m just going to have to go back to Five Sisters every time I get a craving for it:

If we are what we eat, we are becoming very Southern. 🙂

Lisa, the waitress, was a lot of fun, helpful in making recommendations, quick when we asked for anything, and she told us about an upcoming special jazz night that we really needed to attend. OK. That sounded like fun.

Lisa was right. It was really fun. We walked in, early, and every table was taken. There was a Jazz Society of Pensacola membership table at the entrance, and the lady just laughed and said “Look! There are lots of chairs empty, just go to a table and ask if you can join them.”

Hmm. We’re actually used to that, living in Germany all those years, but I didn’t know you could do that here. 🙂 We ended up at a table with another couple, and as we chatted, we had a really good time with them. They were so gracious and welcoming to people they had never met and who aren’t even members (yet) of the Jazz Society. We laughed a lot. He told us that they didn’t have a lot of rules, but that when things got lively, no oxygen machines were allowed on the dance floor because they might explode, LLOOLLL!

This place was ROCKIN’. People were dancing between the tables, people from young to old, just having a great time listening to some very very good music. Within an hour, there were no empty seats at all, some people were standing, and others were eating out on the covered patio. It was raining (rain in Pensacola during a drought is a good thing) and the evening was called Monday Night Blues. How cool is that? The atmosphere was perfect.

Of course we had dinner. AdventureMan had BBQ on Red Beans and Rice and I had the Shrimp Basket. No Mom, I did not eat the French Fries.

I did eat ONE of the hushpuppies. I could not resist. 😉

Five Sisters Blues Cafe is just a really fun place, immaculately clean, great food and great service. We can’t wait to go back again.

July 16, 2011 Posted by | Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Florida, Food, Germany, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Public Art, Weather | 7 Comments