Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Laissez les bontemps rouler, y'all.

My family didn’t go to New Orleans much when I was growing up. My parents had lived there in the mid-60s and, especially after Hurricane Betsy, had no desire to go back. I grew up a couple of hours north, in deeply religious southern Mississippi, where we knew two things: Jesus lives in heaven above, and Satan lives below, which was generally understood, both figuratively and geographically, to mean New Orleans. It wasn’t until I was in college that I started taking regular trips to the French Quarter—no, not for the reasons you think. I didn’t drink much back then—Grad school did that.—back then I went for the food, the bookstores, the food, buildings the color of raspberry sorbet, and beignets, glorious beignets.

Today, I could only make it as far as Arlington, VA to try Bayou Bakery. I was prepared, as any good connoisseur of fried, sugar-coated dough would be, to snarl derisively at the first bite and say, “Well, it’s okay, but it certainly isn’t Café du Monde.” Sadly, I didn’t get the chance. They were out of beignets, so I had to settle for “They call themselves a New Orleans-themed café, but New Orleans would never run out of beignets!” It’s true—Café du Monde was one of the first places to open back up after Katrina. It was eerily quiet, not a tourist in sight, but there was an inch of powdered sugar covering the floor under the green and white awning.

I had hoped for a little taste of New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras, but I guess I’ll have to make another trip to Bayou Bakery, big sigh. However, I can attest that they have great coffee and pretty amazing cupcakes—which is saying a lot for this town. And since it’s Mardi Gras, I’m going to live dangerously and post a few extra pictures from Bayou Bakery. Feel free to throw me virtual beads.


  1. I don't have much of an association with New Orleans other than two pre-college visits with my daughter, who was torn between Tulane and my alma mater (which she ultimately chose to attend . . . yay!) Give these guys another chance. They are a long way from home.

  2. I'm wondering if I could make those lights with mason jars with handles.

    Don't worry, Jack, I'm not going to give up on them. I never give up on pastry.