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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Annou and David Olivier

Ann (nickname Annou) Olivier was born into a family of white New Orleans Creoles on Esplanade Ridge, where she still lives today. Dinnertime was an elaborate, multi-course ritual every evening when she was growing up, including on those evenings when the soup came from a can. Which it rarely did—the Oliviers had a cook, Elnora (called Gaga), a devout woman with a big heart and natural talent at the stove. When Annou speaks about Gaga’s cooking – her fried chicken, her stuffed fish, her gumbos – almost every sentence is punctuated with “mmm.”

David Olivier, Annou’s nephew, grew up primarily in Virginia and visited New Orleans often as a child. He remembers Gaga’s cooking, as well as the Popeyes fried chicken that commenced every vacation in New Orleans, and the thick coffee and chicory that concluded every dinner in his grandparents’ household. David doesn’t identify as a Creole himself, necessarily. But as a young adult he chose New Orleans as his home, and it’s there where he looks forward to lecturing his own daughters about the finer points of roux-making, just like he was schooled by his Creole relatives.

Date of interview:

Sara Roahen

Sara Roahen

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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