On New Orleans, Sassy Bosses & Army Guys (Oyster Po' boy Tacos with Jalapeño Remoulade Recipe)

I was 19 the first time I went to New Orleans. It was summer and I was working full-time as a press intern in DC, where I spent most of my days writing press releases, sending media kits, and pitching stories.

I also spent a lot of time taking long Pinot Grigio-fueled lunches with my boss--a sassy older southern lady who would always say things like:

"Honey, I've been working here since sexual harassment was called flirting."

I loved her.

The coolest thing about this job (besides that lady) was that in August, all of us interns got to accompany our bosses on a business trip.

And not some lame car-trip to a conference room in nowheresville, either!

A real live business trip, via plane, to New Orleans.

Where we each got our own executive suite.

And an expense account.

For a week.

I loved it.

The one thing I didn't love about this trip was that I was alone most of the non-working time. The other intern had brought his girlfriend along so they were always off doing couple-y things together.

My closest friend on the trip was my sassy boss, but she would head back to her room early each evening (ya know...because she was in her 70s), and I would be left by myself.

At 19. In New Orleans. With a suite and an expense account.

The first couple nights were actually pretty low-key. I ordered up various crayfish dishes, and ate them on my king size bed in the hotel robe while watching pay per view movies.

But when I told this to my boss, she took pity on me and told one of my other bosses (a younger guy in his mid 30s) to:

"take the girl out, damn it"

So he dutifully chaperoned me on my first trip to Bourbon Street where I dragged him around from one non-carding Hurricane-selling booth to another.

It was madness!

Unsurprisingly, I ended up meeting a guy that night in the midst of the flurry. He was a VERY handsome 30-year-old Army sergeant whose name I remember because it was Paul Walker--just like the actor in what was then still just one The Fast & The Furious movie.

For some reason, my chaperone-boss deemed Sgt. Walker trustworthy enough to entrust with my care, and left me alone with him.

Clearly, my boss was a TERRIBLE chaperone.

Note to aspiring chaperones: don't ever leave buzzed 19-year-old girls alone on Bourbon Street with hot older Army guys on leave!

Fortunately, Sgt. Walker ended up being a pretty stand-up guy, and I (and my bosses) were surprised when he showed up in the press room at the convention center the next day with a bouquet of pink roses and an invite to lunch, during which he [at last! the point of the story!] introduced me to my first oyster po'boy.

The flavors of these fried oyster tacos remind me of that trip. Shucked oysters are coated in a crispy spiced cornmeal batter and fried until crisp. I serve them in soft tortillas spread generously with a spicy jalapeno remoulade. Add fresh tomatoes, avocados and cilantro, and you're in for a delicious summer treat.

No hurricanes, chaperones, or soldiers required.

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Oyster Po'boy Tacos with Jalapeño Remoulade

For the Jalapeño Remoulade:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, finely minced
1 bunch scallions, finely minced

For the oysters:
3/4 cup ground cornmeal (I like Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Coconut or Canola Oil for frying
24 oysters, shucked
Tortillas, fresh cilantro, diced tomatoes, diced avocados, for serving

Make the remoulade: Whisk together sauce ingredients, cover and put in fridge to chill while you make tacos.

Prepare the oysters: Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, salt, cayenne, paprika, baking powder, and cornstarch.

Heat about 2 inches of oil in a heavy pot until it reaches 350 degrees.

Working in batches, toss the oysters in the flour mixture and coat completely. Fry in the hot oil about 1 minute per side until golden and crispy. Place on a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain.

Assemble tacos--spread warm tortillas with remoulade, top with 3 or 4 oysters, and desired toppings. Serve immediately.

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