Oh, New Orleans!

March 3, 2008

crawfish.jpgNew Orleans, oh, sweet New Orleans. There’s something about this town that whenever I visit, it pulls me closer to its heart, and a very large heart it has. For reasons I really can’t explain, I never visited this iconic city until I was 40, but I’ve now been here nearly half a dozen times in the past few years. I love everything about New Orleans — the people, the food, the music, the art, the architecture. This is a town with a grand and profound soul, and despite the historic tragedies it has had to endure, the setbacks have helped that spirit grow. I can finally say that I “get” New Orleans, its people, and its food. After my first couple of visits, I actually thought that New Orleans was essentially a captive of its own cuisine; that innovation was sacrificed at the expense of traditionalism. That may have been true, and if it were, the people of New Orleans would have just said, “Who gives a damn?” I now understand that attitude, and once I embraced New Orleans’ gastronomic history, I fell in love with the cuisine. I appreciate the freshness of the shrimp in a Johnny’s Po Boy; I know why a Sazerac in the Hotel Monteleone is some heavenly juice, or why simple boiled crawfish is the essence of seafood. And it took a meal of red beans and rice at a friend’s apartment shortly after the devastation of Katrina to help me understand that this is not only the way it is, but it’s the way it’s supposed to be. Simplicity. Honesty. Food of soul and love, and you find it all over town. Read the rest of this entry »