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Surprise, Surprise, my lovely home state of Louisiana has made the top of a list again, but this time it’s for violence.  Louisiana is the most violent state for the 20th year in a row, this statistic is based on incarceration rates, firearm availability, violent crime, and homicide numbers (1).  So, in my 23 year life, I’ve lived almost all of it in the most violent state in the union, it’s pretty obvious some things around here need to change. Louisiana doesn’t fare well for other lists either, in the past we’ve been named the laziest state and we also rank up pretty high for STD rates (2, 3).

The violence statistic doesn’t fair well for our recovering tourism industry, which is one of the biggest sources of revenue for the city. If people do not feel safe, then they will not come, New Orleans got a taste of this post-Katrina.

I think one of our biggest crime reducers could be putting money into education, which sadly the state seems to be constantly whittling away at our education budget. Keeping children from dropping out of high school, will keep them off the streets and away from violence. Education, for example completing high school, correlates with crime reduction (4). Instead of spending state money on incarceration, we should be putting money into education to prevent it from occurring. Obviously, Louisiana has gotten the formula for reducing violence wrong for about 20 years, isn’t it about time we try something new?

If you don’t like my aforementioned recipe for peace, then maybe you’ll like my recipe for Olive Tapenade. I’m still on my French recipe kick, and olives (or olive branches) have always been a symbol for peace, so I hope you enjoy.

  • 1/2 pound pitted mixed olives, rinsed (or you can use all green or all black)
  • 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed (optional, if you want to keep it vegetarian omit these)
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 to 3 fresh basil or parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (this is when you break out the good stuff)

If you’ve got a food processor, you can simply process all ingredients for a minute.  You do not want this to be smooth, it should have a course texture to it. If you don’t own a food processor, then you can use your knife skills to finely mince the olives and garlic and then mix in the other ingredients.

I like to serve my olive tapenade with a crusty baguette and fresh goat cheese, it’s a great party appetizer. If I have any left over, I make my lazy man’s muffuletta and spread the olive tapenade on some bread and add ham and cheese.