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…