If you are a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance or a fan of the Bitter Southerner, as we are, you likely already know the work of Pableaux Johnson. During the 2015 SFA Symposium, he shared a short film about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath and celebrated the city’s resilience with a helping of red beans and rice. His photographic essay on the Mardi Gras Indians was one of the most immersive and colorful pieces of writing we encountered last year.
A prolific writer and photographer, Pableaux often writes about the food, heritage, and culture of his hometown of New Orleans. He is also the author of three books, ESPN Gameday Gourmet, Eating New Orleans: From French Quarter Creole Dining to the Perfect Poboy, and Lonely Planet’s World Food New Orleans.
In 2014, he documented a year of life and loss among the Mardi Gras Indians, who spend untold hours stitching and beading and feathering costumes to be worn each year for Mardi Gras Day and Carnival, for annual events, and for Jazzfest. He captures the craftsmanship involved but also documents the community involvement, chants, drums, and dance of the Mardi Gras Indian culture. His work also portrays the commitment to family—biological and chosen—that tribes express when they lose elders and chiefs.