10 Ways to Hang at the Beach Like a Local and Marque Choux Soup

Summer time is here and I am loving being out in the sun! So far my pasty, white skin has stayed un-burned thanks to SPF 100 sunscreen. This weekend the family and I are hitting up our local beach and that got me thinking. It’s so easy to spot the tourists when we are out walking on the beach. How do I know? They make several classic blunders that locals can easily spot. But now I’m going to share with you some local secrets, so that the next time you are on the beach you’ll look like one too!

Our local beach
Our local beach

10 Tips From a Local Beach Bum:

  1. Less is more. If you see a family with beach chairs, an umbrella, 2 bags, a basket of toys, 5 towels, a cooler, a playpen….. they are probably tourists. Locals travel light. Yes we’ll bring a beach chair. But if you don’t feel like carrying that, just invest in a great nylon beach blanket that allows for sand to fall off and you’re good to go!
  2. Watch out for riptides. Most of the beaches don’t have lifeguards. And while we love our lifeguards, they can’t be expected to keep eyes on every person in the water. What is a riptide? If you see two waves crash onto the beach and form a V, that point of intersection is the riptide. Meaning, that the area in between the waves is like a giant current that will easily pull an adult out to sea. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the beach and gasped because I’ll see small children frolicking out into the waves when it’s a really choppy day. Bottom line: if the waves look rough, don’t go far out in the water.
  3. Do not shake off your towels. This is a huge common mistake. At the beach 99% of the time there will be a breeze. Wind + sand = particles flying everywhere. I don’t care if you’re 20 to 30 feet away from the next family. If you stand up and flap your towel in the air like a piece of laundry, those sand particles are going to pelt the family downwind from you. Instead, stand up, drape your towel over your arm and walk back to your car. The wind will gently blow off any remaining sand. (And if you’re super worried about getting sand in your car, give it a shake in the parking lot. Sand won’t hurt the cars).
  4. Dress in light layers. It always annoys me when I see bikini ads with girls jumping around in string bikinis, short shorts, and jewelry. That is not what locals wear to the beach! In fact, if you go out in the water (i.e. surfers, paddleboarders, wind surfers, etc.) you are most likely wearing a wet suit because the Pacific Ocean is cold!! If you’re on the beach, please do yourself a favor and bring layers. Wear your swimsuit, then grab a pair of yoga pants and a lightweight jacket. With the breeze blowing and the marine layer in the mornings and evenings, it is very easy to get cold fast.
  5. Slather, block, and cover. You know you’re a local when you’ve got a huge sunhat on, big sunglasses, and you are still slathering on sunscreen. You know you’re a tourist when you’re dancing like a free spirit on the beach and one hour later you look like Bob the Tomato from Veggietales. Enjoy the beach, enjoy the sun, but please take care of your skin (and health) and make sure to put on sun block.
  6. Do not eat on the beach, BUT if you do, know what you’re getting yourself into. I am guilty of picnicking on the beach. I’ll admit it. It does sound romantic, doesn’t it? The waves crashing. The smell of salt in the air as you bite into a fresh, veggie wrap. Um… no. Here’s what it’s really like: You finally find a parking spot because chances are you went to the beach on the weekend and that means everything is crowded. You carry all of your stuff down the boardwalk, across the sand, until you find a spot where there isn’t kelp and sand flies. Then you unload everything and struggle against the wind to spread out your blanket. (Tip: use the wind to your advantage). Then, you pull out whatever food you bring. You unwrap it, hold it to your lips and take a bite. The first bite is always great…. sweet victory. But as you continue eating you notice that the glorious wind you’re enjoying is also carrying sand which ends up in your food. Would you like a little grit with that turkey sandwich? I didn’t think so. Bottom line: If you want to picnic near the ocean check out the many parks on rocky cliffs or find a rocky beach to eat on, or eat on the board walk! Your food will taste a lot better… trust me!
  7. Pick up after yourself. This seems like it’s a no-brainer but you’d be surprised at how many tourists come visit and then end up trashing our beaches. It’s disgusting. Some are drunk, and others are just sloppy. But there is no faster way to piss off a local than to leave trash on the sand. Just clean up after yourself and you’ll be just fine.
  8. Go to the beach on a weekday, not the weekends. This also seems like a no-brainer and I completely understand if it’s unavoidable, but every summer the beaches are slammed on the weekends. All of the parking lots are crowded and you’re going to be playing “circle the parking lot” with huge RV’s and carloads full of tourists. But go on a Tuesday and you’re in a much better position to get a prime spot.
  9. Not every beach is created equal. I live near 4 amazing beaches. Huge stretches of white sand and crashing waves…. it’s pretty much paradise. That being said those 4 can be broken down into 2 categories: local spots and tourist spots. Two of the beaches are right on the stretch of hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Locals know to pretty much avoid that area during the height of summer because they are jam packed with tourists. The other two beaches are just as nice, (if not more so), and are local hidden gems. The one closest to my house is so large that you can walk for miles and feel like you’re on an island all to yourself. Bottom line: ask a local where they go walk on the beach. Chances are it’s some place not in your guide book.
  10. Leave Fido at home! I might “ruffle some feathers” with this tip, so if I irritate you I apologize. Most of the beaches don’t allow for dogs to be on the beach. This seems like a no-brainer, but every year there are people that are livid that Fifi or Spot can’t come onto the sand with them. Folks, it’s a beach! A place where you’re walking, running, and people are lounging with coolers full of food all over the place. What do you think Spot is going to do once he is off the leash? That’s right… run-a-muck! Not to mention that dogs go to the bathroom whenever they see fit and if you don’t have a doggie bag with you, you can best believe that the locals will be glaring at you with dagger eyes. Bottom line: research dog-friendly beaches and go there. Please don’t try to bring your dog to a crowded beach.

This recipe for Marque Choux is absolutely phenomenal. Marque Choux is a Creole corn-based soup. If you’re worried about eating warm soup in the summer, don’t be. Corn is super cheap and this flavorful soup is sure to leave you longing for more. Its spicy seasonings and creamy texture will remind you of digging into a big, bowl of grits. So enjoy this recipe everyone and keep on cooking! ❤

Maque Choux
Maque Choux

Maque Choux Soup 

Courtesy of: Southern Living Magazine 

Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 6 ears)
  • 1 medium-size orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 (32-oz.) container chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons plain white cornmeal
  • Toppings: cooked bacon, fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, fresh lime juice

Instructions: 

1. Stir together first 2 ingredients. Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add half of corn mixture; cook, stirring constantly, 4 minutes or until vegetables begin to char. Transfer mixture to a 3-qt. saucepan. Add remaining corn mixture to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, 4 minutes or until vegetables begin to char. Stir in cumin and coriander; cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant.

2. Add 2 cups broth to corn mixture in saucepan, and process with a handheld blender 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly smooth. Add remaining corn mixture and 2 cups broth to saucepan; bring to a light boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper.

3. Whisk together sour cream and cornmeal in a heatproof bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup hot soup. Add sour cream mixture to soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until thickened.

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