New Orleans: The Food, the Food

December 18, 2015

 

Sidewalk seating

Sidewalk seating

“Living in New Orleans is like drinking blubber through a straw.  Even the air is calories.  The atmosphere is permeated by rays of roux and bubbles of cornbread.  Gumbo gives off a cloud of cayenne-flavored fat that envelops the passerby.  Fish fries and shrimp are breaded all around the innocent.”
— Andrei Codrescu, “Fantastic Feast,” from New Orleans Mon Amour

Our last meal in New Orleans was lunch at the Ruby Slipper -- I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw.

Our last meal in New Orleans was lunch at the Ruby Slipper — I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw.

“This was the New Orleans we all knew and loved — the place where you talk about food in the rare moments when you don’t happen to be eating any.”
—  Julia Reed, The House on First Street

“Be a castaway in New Orleans.  Smell the coffee and creosote.  Do not sink into the everydayness of your life.  Fight despair.  Find treasure.”
— Billy Southern, “On a Strange Island,” from Unfathomable City

Finding treasure on your plate is easy in New Orleans.  Needless to say, the food was one of my favorite things about the city.  I came armed with a long list of iconic Southern foods I wanted to taste, and I managed to make quite a dent in my list before it was time to go:  po’ boy sandwich, muffuletta, grits, catfish, shrimp, barbecue, gumbo, pralines, chicory coffee, beignets, and even oysters (I ate one, and I learned I still don’t like them!).

“It had to be New Orleans, I believed.  In New Orleans, you walk on roads flecked with crushed oyster shells, and there is a whole culture of oysters, a mystique. . . . In New Orleans, oysters are almost an art form.  You eat them covered in spinach and garlic and bacon and cheese, eat them roasted, baked, even grilled over an open flame in their shells. . . . And, of course, all over town, I ate them in po’ boys and oyster loaves, dripping with hot sauce and tartar sauce, with cold root beer on the side.  I was not just eating food.  I was consuming culture, and as I came to love the city, I came to love its oysters.”
— Rick Bragg, My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South

Cochon Butcher, where we picked up muffulettas to go

Cochon Butcher, where we picked up muffulettas to go

Yes, they were carving/butchering actual pigs behind the counter

Yes, they were carving/butchering actual pigs behind the counter

Muffuletta

Muffuletta

New Orleans offers the hungry traveler a wide array of places to satisfy hunger — from the Lucky Dog street cart to the white-tableclothed fancy restaurant, like Antoine’s.

“There can be only one Antoine’s.”
— Frances Parkinson Keyes, Dinner at Antoine’s

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A peek into the window at Antoine's

A peek into the window at Antoine’s

Lucky Dog vendor, with flashbacks to A Confederacy of Dunces

Lucky Dog vendor, with flashbacks to A Confederacy of Dunces

We couldn’t leave New Orleans without tasting the beignets and chicory coffee at the Cafe du Monde.

“This Cafe du Monde couldn’t be anywhere except in New Orleans, like Antoine’s and Mardi Gras.  And it isn’t only unique.  It’s — it’s real.”
— Frances Parkinson Keyes, Dinner at Antoine’s

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