New Orleans

Muffuletta Me Make You A Sandwich

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I would suggest experiencing muffuletta for the first time the way I did: exhausted and sitting at your departure gate in Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. I have to admit I was not entirely sure what to expect from the experience. This legendary sandwich had been suggested with enthusiasm by nearly everyone who heard about our planned trip to the South, but I wasn’t wholly convinced. It’s all… soggy-looking, I thought. My Californian sensibilities took exception to the lack of vegetables. Last on our list before our return flight, I wasn’t even particularly perturbed by the thought of missing out in the event that we ran out of time. Luckily – and for emphasis, I’ll add a few stars – **luckily** my experienced travel partner knew what she was doing. (more…)

A Little of This, a Little of That

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In the simmering heat of New Orleans, one would think the last thing on my mind would be a hot, thick stew. One would be wrong. Wandering the sun-bleached graves of New Orleans’s past, bouncing past brass bands at every corner along Jackson Square, sipping boozy drinks that under any other circumstances would be considered crimes against humanity – it ignites a fever in you, a fever for spice and history and flavor and community. Gumbo is a kind of talisman in Louisiana. Born of a conflict of cultures, of poverty and slavery and the rough need of the oppressed, gumbo is the perfect comfort food. Everyone (and everyone’s mother) has his or her own version, so the flavor has the ability to transport you to a place of security and tender nostalgia. The meal requires attention and, traditionally, the contributions of several people, making it a manifestation of the kind of community that supports its members in both spiritual and material ways. When everyone brings something – spicy andouille, chicken, fatty slices of bacon – the result is rich in flavor and meaning. (more…)