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The Marks Post: Finding God in live television

It probably is no secret from reading several of my past columns that I have been going to silent Jesuit retreats in Grand Coteau for the past several years. One of the main components of Ignatian Spirituality that is stressed at these retreats, like it was stressed by St. Ignatius himself, is finding God in all things. I have been trying to live my life by following this principle and got a fresh dose of it Thursday morning.
A while back, I was talking to Tee Cotton Bowl Event Coordinator Jesse Muse about this year’s game. During the conversation, he invited me to go to Passe Partout on the morning before the game.
Time went on, and I talked to him more about it at the Junior Varsity Tee Cotton Bowl Monday night. He said that he was going to Passe Partout with Paul Fontenot from Paul’s Meat Market. The plan was for Paul to cook a jambalaya the night before and act like he was cooking one on set. I was just going to go help cook. Emphasis on the word “help.”
Then, on Wednesday, Jesse came into the office and said that Paul could not make it but would still be cooking the jambalaya that night. Or, so I understood. The plan then was that Jesse was going to do all the talking on Passe Partout, and I was going to act like I was cooking the jambalaya.
Wednesday after I got off work, I went buy the tasso, sausage, rice, and a container of onions, peppers, and everything else that was already cut up. Then, Thursday morning, I loaded all the food in my car with a Magnalite pot, a rice cooker, a towel, and a knife. I went meet Jesse at the Sacred Heart Church parking lot at a quarter to 4:00 a.m., loaded up his truck, and we left.
I guess right around the time we got to Plaisance is when I asked him if Paul still cooked the jambalaya the night before. Jesse responded that I was going to do the cooking. I said Ok, but thought a while and said that I did not have any cooking oil. I asked if Jesse could stop at the Exxon station in Nuba, but he said that we would stop at convenience store in Lafayette.
We stopped at a RaceTrac on University, but they had no cooking oil. We stopped again at a Circle K on Ambassador Caffery, and, luckily, they had a plastic jar of cooking oil. I was in shape.
We then got to the studios of KLFY. It was my first time there since I won the Color the Weather contest back in the 6th grade. Back then, the group of us winners got to meet Rob Perillo and got to be on his weather broadcast.
Thursday, one of the workers escorted us through the front doors and into the cooking studio. The plan was for me to start cooking as soon as we got there and for us to be on two segments of live television at 5:20 and 5:50 that morning.
Right away, I started going at it by cutting the tasso and sausage. I was in mid-cut when I realized that I did not have a spoon. I looked around the set, and there was no spoon. I was in trouble. I, then, walked through the big double doors to where there was a sink. What I found waiting for me was a spoon. I rinsed it off and was ready to go.
After I got the sausage and tasso browning, I plugged in the rice pot into the socket at the countertop in the studio. But, there was no juice. So, I walked back to where I found the spoon and plugged in the rice pot.
By that point, it was almost time for our first segment. The producer guy came tell us that we would first be on with Megan Kelly. When the time came for us to go live, she walked in and did not know what to expect because she saw the smoke coming from the pot and saw two guys from Ville Platte behind the counter.
When the segment started, Jesse was answering her questions about the game while I was stirring in the pot. I talked a little bit and got through it even though I was a little nervous. All in all; however, the first segment went fine.
After that first segment, I took the meat out of the pot and started browning the vegetables while the rice was still cooking in the back. The cooking was going fine, and Jesse and I were cutting up with each other because we were by ourselves. That allowed me to get a little more comfortable.
By the time the onions and everything was browned, it was when we were about to go back on camera. I turned the fire low and added some more water because I wanted to add the meat back into the pot while on camera.
The producer guy came in and told us that Jeff Horchack would be doing the segment. Jeff is no stranger to the Tee Cotton Bowl. I got to meet him years ago when he and George Faust did a version of College GameDay at Soileau-Landry Field for the Tee Cotton Bowl.
He came through the doors full blast and all fired up, gave Jesse and I a hug, and scooped up a piece of sausage out of the lid. While back on air, he started asking us about the game. Jesse was talking about all the food that was going to be available, and I dropped the magic word. If that word was the only thing I said all morning, then the day would be a success. The magic word was “squirrels.” Jeff acknowledged on air the squirrel connection to Ville Platte.
After that segment ended, we were done. I finished cooking the jambalaya and left it on the counter in a smaller pot for everybody to eat at KLFY. We also left a special Tee Cotton Bowl king cake that came from Mikey’s Donuts. Jesse and I both agreed that the king cake would be gone before the jambalaya.
On the way back home, we stopped to get breakfast at Waffle House in Opelousas. Jesse and I were talking about the morning, and he made the comment that God had His hand on me the whole time.
Boy, was he right! God provided me with the cooking oil and with a spoon that just happened to be on the counter by the sink. And, He had Jesse there with me to keep me comfortable and to keep my mind off of what was going on.
Jesse and I then were talking about how the most important thing about the Tee Cotton Bowl is that it is done through faith and in accordance with the teachings of Jesus. I made the comment after we got back in the truck that Jesus always takes a little bit and turns it into a lot to spread His message like He did with the five loaves and two fish. Jesse replied that, at KLFY that morning, Jesus used two fools, a jambalaya.
Our media circus was not finished because we showed up unannounced at the KVPI studios at 10 minutes to 8:00. Mark Layne said that we could go on “La Tasse de Cafe.” And that is what we did as we talked about our morning. We went from being on live television to being on live radio to promote and represent Tee Cotton Bowl XV.
Oh, yea, there was one more thing that I forgot to bring to Passe Partout. I forgot a measuring cup, so I had to eyeball the amount of rice and water that I put in the rice pot. I doubt anybody at KLFY cared how the rice came out that morning because they were treated to a Ville Platte jambalaya. I am also sure that Megan ate it all up because they do not cook like that in her native Kansas City. Wait until she tries squirrels.

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