Helana Brigman is the creator of the award-winning blog Clearly Delicious (soon to be Dances with Lobsters: Clearly Delicious Recipes from the coast of Maine to the Gulf of New Orleans), a food writer, photographer, and cook whose work has appeared in Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine, and her column, “Fresh Ideas” with Louisiana’s state newspaper, The Advocate.

A doctoral candidate in English, Brigman lives in Baton Rouge, LA, with her dog Cara where she writes, photographs, and eats the best of southern cooking.

Her first book, The Fresh Table: Cooking in Louisiana All Year Roundis out this March with LSU Press (more about it here and here).

So, that’s the “snippet” / biography view, and this is me:

My name is Helana (Elizabeth) Brigman, a 27-year-old Doctoral Candidate in English, and owner of a nervous, but beautiful greyhound (Cara). I’m wildly energetic and incredibly ambitious (20-layer cake? got it. 8-mile run? sure. PhD? ok. Publish a book? sounds fun.)

I grew up on the coasts of (rocky) Rockland, Maine, with my twin sister and red-headed hippy mother (a poet, a writer, a cook). As a child, I road fishing boats and danced with lobstermen. I was incredibly wild. The only thing I didn’t do was keep my pig-tails in their proper “place,” and I sometimes thought I should have been a boy since all I ever wanted to do was climb hills, go fishing, or wear hand-me-down plaid shirts.

me age 3 or 4

Pictured: me, age 3 with my twin sister (unfortunately cropped off to the left, but same head shape and shiny hair) and cousin. I literally used to cry my eyes out that I never got to wear red. To keep us straight, my mother would put my twin, Haley, in red, and me in blue. ‘Cause sometimes…it was hard to tell.

I was a tomboy, and I was obsessed with my mother’s cooking:

mom split screen

Pictured: two of the most important images I own. Left: A photo of my mother, Rebecca, doing “galley work” on a friend’s boat in Rockland, Maine, 1974. Right: A photo of my mother (same boat) taking down the sails. The caption reads, “I’ve walked the Plank, Straddled the Boom, and Brought down the Sail. Now to get back onto the Schooner, 1974.”

I moved to the south after my mother’s death in 2000 (a particularly sad time), went through a period of radical culture shock, came to my senses, and fell in love. The people, the food, the world were unlike anything I’d experienced in New England, and the change was great for me (in fact, I stopped wearing plaid shirts).

Later, I attended Columbia College (one of the few women’s colleges left in America) where I felt confident and capable in ways I never anticipated. When going on to my PhD, the natural fit was even farther south—Baton Rouge, LA (near New Orleans), where I could finally eat crawfish and make eye-contact with alligators (and, let’s be honest—boys). Here is where my mother once met my father and had her twin girls. In fact, I was actually born in New Orleans.

lecreole

Pictured: a candid taken during my visit to Le Creolé in Baton Rouge, LA (home to Chef Ryan Andre). Good food, good wine, good people, and bright smiles. Welcome to Louisiana.

Today, I am a hopeless optimist and workaholic. I’ll forever believe in the good in people, appreciating our cultures and our friends, having good manners, saying “thank you” (which includes sending “thank you” cards), and understanding how valuable every second is while we have it. I’m perhaps more concerned with ethics and “being a good person” at the end of the day than most people I’ve met, and whether I taught a successful class or made a difference in a student’s writings can keep me up at night.

Did I mention I’m also a teacher?

At Clearly Delicious, I share my geographically changing world—tastes, sights, sounds, and the colorful characters in it. I hope you enjoy the range of recipes and voices I share here with weekly contributions from food writers, friends, and my beloved interns.

IMG_8395

Pictured: Scenes from this year’s Mardi Gras (2013). I’m, literally, addicted to my DSLR Canon and candid action shots of every place I visit.

As far as I know, we fawn over no pictures of cats (not that this won’t be the case in the future), and you’ll find no food writers with perfectly manicured nails in our blog posts. My nails are chipped from peeling crawfish and shucking oysters, and I’m pretty proud of my sore thumbs.

Welcome to our online home, and please stay awhile. I can promise there will be cookies, and we’d love to meet you.

Below are the other faces you’ll see at Clearly Delicious, so spend a few extra minutes meeting our contributors, technicians, and interns. You may want to remember my interns faces especially—one day, you might be reading their food blogs too.

Contact: helana [at] clearlydeliciousfoodblog [dot] com