Reflections from a New Orleanian

Susan Spicer

Susan Spicer: On this fine spring day in New Orleans, we have many things to celebrate, but the anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion is not one of them.

Kai Ryssdal: Commentator and chef Susan Spicer.


Susan Spicer: Most New Orleans' hotels and restaurants are full and bustling with locals and tourists from the French Quarter Festival and the upcoming, ever-popular Jazz and Heritage Fest. But things are all too quiet on the Gulf Coast. Remnants of oil and dead animals are still washing up onshore and generations-old seafood businesses are closing their doors. Many of the oyster fisherman are saying it will be 6-10 years before they are producing at their normal levels. Most cannot afford to wait that long.

I'm one of the lucky ones. My business partner and I filed a class action suit against BP, not knowing what the future would be for the restaurant we had put 20 years of hard work into. As it turns out, 2010 was a pretty good year for Bayona and we have since decided to take a back seat in the legal proceedings. The claims process for those hardest hit has been confusing and painful for most, while a small percentage have received satisfaction.

We are confident that the fish and shellfish we are serving and eating today is clean and safe. That's because of the rigorous testing of Gulf seafood by local and national scientific agencies. But how future production will be affected remains the biggest unanswered question.

I remember feeling the same push/pull after Katrina when people asked me how things were going. I wanted to put on a happy face and say how great everything was and how quickly we were recovering, but I was still frustrated and angry with the slow progress, the lackadaisical government response and the overwhelming feelings of loss. This is a similar situation -- I'm proud of our resiliency, but still want people to be held accountable. I want to know that the rest of the country won't forget what happened in their Gulf of Mexico.

But, hey, it's springtime in New Orleans -- the magnolias are blooming, crawfish are in season and my optimism is getting the upper hand.

Ryssdal: Susan Spicer is the chef owner of Bayona restaurant in New Orleans. Your views anytime. Write to us -- click on the contact link.

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