From Esquire’s “Carrot Top” story
After lunch at Tujague’s, I spent the rest of the day wandering around the French Quarter. I’d done most of the standard tourist stuff on previous visits, so I didn’t have an extensive list of must-visit sites and cemeteries. This time, the trip was mainly an escape from Winter, and an opportunity to taste some really excellent cooking.
There were two things, though, that I couldn’t resist. Not that I wanted to.
Beignets at Café du Monde
I mean, just look at them! It doesn’t get much better than spending a hour or so munching on these sugar bombs at the open-air, 150-year-old Café du Monde on a warm afternoon in February .
Lazing in Jackson Square
A reliable source told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to leave New Orleans unless I could produce a receipt from Café du Monde and a picture of Andrew Jackson’s equestrian statue from Jackson Square. I distracted the hundreds of other visitors who were trying to photograph the statue by starting a rumour that Zac Efron and Emma Stone were filming a scene on Bourbon Street. Once I had the Square to myself, getting this picture was a snap. (See what I did there?)
Trivia: That thing about how the number of raised hooves on equestrian statues tells you about the riders’ battle wounds and/or death? Urban myth.
I stayed in the Square for more than an hour, enjoying the weather and reading a book. (Child 44. V good vacation reading, though I suspect the movie will be a disaster, because of the silly fake Russian accents. You can’t take a serial killer seriously if you’re constantly dreading the possibility that his next line will be “Beeg trouble for Moose and Squirrel.”)
Street musicians kept playing for spare change. They were actually talented, in contrast to the DC “entertainers’ who pollute the air in parks and around Metro stations by beating arrhythmically on large plastic trash containers. (Don’t give them money, btw. It’s useless. No matter how much you give them, they won’t stop making a racket,)
Looks pretty, doesn’t it? I’m now going to tell you a nasty little secret about the French Quarter that you won’t find in any of the official tourist guides.
The first thing you notice about the Quarter is that it really, really stinks.
Not all of it. I’m talking mainly about the areas around the Bourbon Street, home of the strip joints and open-24-hours bars. (Strippers and beer. New Orleans “notorious” vices are, in actuality, almost quaint.)
There are no service alleys, which means that in the morning, discarded foodstuffs from the area’s dozens of restaurants rot in closed dumpsters on the sidewalk until the garbage is picked up.
And, for hundreds of years, the Quarter has been one of the most famous party zones in the world. The streets are hosed down every morning, but the street cleaners are fighting a hopeless battle against 200 years of urine, vomit, and spilled beer. It takes an occasional hurricane to freshen things up.
She’s Circe, and she’s up to no good.
In Waterhouse’s picture, Circe, the enchantress who turned Odysseus’ crew into swine, prepares a potion to transform her rival Scylla into a monster.
She’s on display at the Art Gallery of South Australia.
Don’t get too close.
A hapless audience member is drafted into taking part in a trapeze act, and gets in over her head.
The Maiers are Sabine Maier and Yogi Mohr, two German comedy acrobatics performers. You can see more of their adventures at the link.
It’s called “The Party’s Over.”
I’ve been watching episodes from the first few seasons of Mad Men recently, and it strikes me how much they resemble the short fiction that used to appear in the New Yorker, around the time Mad Men takes place. Cheever. John O’Hara. Stories that capture the small but infinitely significant moment.
But that was in another country. Whatever happened to short fiction? Whatever happened to the magazines that published it?
Tujague’s is legendary. Founded in 1856, it’s been around for 159 years now, making it the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans. It must be doing something right.
But I was a little disappointed, and it was at least partially my fault.
The restaurant is just steps from Jackson Square.
Boiled shrimp served over lettuce with traditional red remoulade sauce. Loved the shrimp w/remoulade sauce, but the salad was nondescript.
A sampler of Crawfish Étouffée, Shrimp Creole with Grits Cake, and Red Beans and Rice. And this is where I think I went wrong. Instead of ordering something like Tujague’s signature Boiled Brisket of Beef, I opted for the “Taste of…” combo, which was a touristy thing to do.
It wasn’t a bad meal, but neither was it memorable. And considering the curve on which I’m grading New Orleans food, it fell short.