I Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans

One of my first food memories is related to New Orleans. I was just a toddler, and my father came back from a business trip there with a box of pralines. My parents sat me on the edge of the kitchen sink, fed me sweet little bites and kept saying “praline, praline” over and over. Oh yeah, life can be sweet.

New Orleans is still sweet, and what everyone knows about food in New Orleans–it’s central to the city’s identity and it’s fantastic–is still true.

Yes, seafood cocktail in a martini glass is a cliched, but a delicious one.

In New Orleans, Sunday brunch is a real thing not, as Anthony Bourdain claims, a dumping ground for the week’s leftovers and second string cooks. It’s a real meal with real dishes. Witness breakfast at Brennan’s–a three course meal that begins with a gentle eye-opener of bourbon milk punch, continues with a mommy-made appetizer like a creole baked apple doused in heavy cream, moves onto a main course of eggs Sardou, Hussarde, Benedict, or Bayou LaFourche, and in a grand et cetera, finishing with dessert, expertly flambeed at tableside–crepes or bananas foster.

But it is not only at the institutions–Brennan’s, Antoines, Galatoire’s–where they care about food. The second generation restaurants like Bayona, Herbsaint, and Cochon move the tradition along. Even the “tourist traps” like Cafe du Monde and Mother’s are frequented by locals because they’re good.

breakfast for angels

No one seems to be phoning it in with turkey wraps or roast beef panini. A neighborhood place like Fat Hen Grill has taken the time to develop it’s own barbeque, jams, signature dishes, and a loyal Sunday morning clientele.

And at the intersection of my two favorite topics, food and urbanism, I love that a place like Galatoire’s, which still asks men to strap into a sport coat upholds its standards next to a Bourbon Street strip club called Little Darlings.

The lace curtains amid the general Bourbon Street debauchery (Overheard: “I’m kicking it off with a hurricane and then sticking with beer.” Now that’s a plan; think he’s thought that much about his Roth IRA?) strike me as fundamental human nature. Black is nothing without white, and good is just plain tedious without bad. It’s real, and accepting both, on the street and in our lives, takes tolerance and maturity.

the devil made me do it

Finally, one travel rule of thumb: never leave without a visit to the supermarket. You never know what local wonders you’ll find hidden on the top and bottom shelves.

our haul from Rouse's Market, limited only by the TSA and what I'm willing to schlep

Advertisements

About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
This entry was posted in restaurant, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s