The Spirit of Café Du Monde

Café Du Monde in New Orleans. My wife and I love the place.

Recently, my friend, author Luis Alberto Urrea, was on a book tour. His Facebook posts about Nawlins called up such deliciously high-fat, sugary, jazzy and daiquiri-soaked memories, I had to add a comment in the thread under his photo where he mentioned (*pause to sigh reflectively*) Café Du Monde.

Mmm. Been there. Done that. Ate the donuts.

So, what was my Facebook comment? I did what any self-respecting aspiring writer would do. I wrote a haiku!

….waiters bring beignets 

….powdered sugar clouds wafting

….ah, Café Du Monde!

Okay, now, that might not be the highest class of poetry, but I bet I made many of you hungry. Go on. Admit it.

A few years back, my wife and I were there at Café Du Monde, sipping chicory-sludge coffee and listening to a guy play hymns on a trumpet a few feet away on the sidewalk. No fake ambience here.

The waiter brought our beignets, one-handedly held aloft on a tray, complete with the requisite BOXFUL of powdered sugar dumped on them. I’m serious. Café Du Monde does not sink to the level of a mere “dusting” with powdered sugar.

In fact, pretty much all of Cajun and Southern cuisine never bothers to ask California and New York questions like “How much butter did you put in there?” or “Did you say three cups of sugar?” The only valid question there is, “Does it taste good, y’all?”

In the bustle of the restaurant, a white cloud trailed behind each waiter’s tray, not unlike the steam swirling from a platter of fajitas or some other “sizzling” dish we were used to seeing at a Mexican restaurant back home in San Diego. Similar, but softer. Gentler. Sweeter. It’s a cloud of sugar, folks. And ohmygosh, when he set our beignets on the table, there was a delicate phooshphh sound as the sucrose cloud puffed up and spread out like the smoke of a culinary volcano. And as the sugary “ash” quickly settled, the landscape changed. Our laps were now completely white.

Yes, white as snow. Some people like snow and winter sports. But I’ll take a beignet at Café Du Monde over the “powder” at Vail, Colorado, any day. A warm breeze. Live music at breakfast. No expensive lift tickets, lessons or bulky equipment necessary. And no one ever broke their leg eating a beignet.

It’s sheer delight…

…no matter what my endocrinologist might have to say about it. I mean, really, Doc. Most of the sugar went onto our laps and into the atmosphere!

Besides the haiku, my other response to the nostalgia created by Luis’ post was to make Le Gran Slame at home for breakfast. Move over, Denny’s. Thick slices of French toast from my wife’s homemade bread, served with ground walnuts, butter, a choice of maple or boysenberry syrup, and Café De Monde-esque powdered sugar (well, not really THAT much… we settled for the tastefully light dusting since we would have to sweep up after ourselves, here at home). A fried egg and some spicy sausage links on the side completed the Grand Slam Français. Juice and coffee (sans chicory) finished out the meal, as we lingered, enjoying the morning after an intense two weeks of translation work. It was a needed and restful mid-week day off.

I love Café Du Monde, but I’m glad we can create a delicious and restful haven wherever we are. Today, it was a taste of a Nawlins morning right here on Palawan.

Oops. One more thing. Let me get Louis Armstrong going on the iPod speakers…

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About Bill Davis

Writer, speaker and translation and language learning consultant. I write technical articles, poetry and humor, and I am working on my first novel which is set on the island of Palawan in the Philippines.
This entry was posted in Humor, Miscellaneous, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Spirit of Café Du Monde

  1. Don says:

    You did make me hungry, yes, but there’s no shortage of beignets here.

    Incidentally, I had a cousin John who broke a leg precisely because he was eating a donut. No joke, but in retrospect he probably should have been paying more attention to the road.

    • Bill Davis says:

      I stand corrected on the donut/orthopaedic connection. That kind of controversy is good for a blog, to generate discussion! I shouldn’t have made such an exclusive statement without doing my research on um… Wikipedia! Or maybe I just need to add a disclaimer: “no one has broken a leg eating a beignet at Café Du Monde.” But hey, wait… was his donut a beignet?!

  2. Kevin says:

    Nice imagery! I think I saw Cafe du Monde on an episode of great places in da U.S. on travel channel. I remember those donuts with the powdered auger. Excellent. Nice writing! …. Kevin

  3. Suzy says:

    mmmm….my mouth is watering….must have beignet…must have beignet….

  4. Sadly I have not been, but as a lover of all things fried pastry, it is definitely on my list. My brother went last month at my urging, and his reaction was something along the lines of “Eh.” I nearly disowned him…

    • Bill Davis says:

      How could ANYone simply say “eh,” to Cafe Du Monde? Inconceivable. Just reading “fried” and “pastry” has me all ready to go…

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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