New Orleans: Food Heaven

We arrived today in New Orleans, our first and much anticipated visit. For Bob and me, this week will be filled with food, fun and discovering the history and most importantly, the food history of this dynamic and seductive city. We are here attending the 30th Annual Conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals ( IACP )  and have put together a full-slate of excursions outside of the city to visit a crawfish farm, rice growers, shrimper, crabbers and who ever else we stumble upon that is growing, catching or producing the essentials necessary to give the local cuisine its flavor and style. I will be working on a collaborative project with a group of photographers and writers to create a book on the topic of GUMBO, the dish that is the jewel in the crown of the local Cajun cuisine. My colleagues and I will be attempting to photograph and interview as many colorful local characters as we can in our week in New Orleans. On Wednesday, I will be headed to south Cajun country and I am as excited as if I was just given a free pass to Paris. Give me my camera, a local guide, a notebook, and some earnest, pride-filled local personalities and I am in heaven. And believe me, New Orleans is a character place – exhuberant, sometimes questionable, but so far, always delightful.

Recommended dining:

dinner: Cochon, in the warehouse district – as the name suggests, a shrine to pork and other Southern meats, oysters, local fish, crawfish, etc. Assisting the chefs are the wood burning ovens that turn out dishes that are as aromatic as they are sensual and delicious. Upscale, confident and very, very good. An ‘important’ USA news magazine called it one of the Five Best Restaurants in the USA. We call it sensational. More later.

breakfast: Mother’s who can pass up a place with a name like that ? Mother’s has been around since 1938, and other than some clean-up and re-organization after Hurricane Katrina, it probably looks much as it may have since the 1960’s. Funky, lost in time and the real deal – the waitresses call you Baby in that sweet, endearing, roll-of-the-tongue-southern-charm-kind-of way. Baked ham is the thing at Mother’s ( order it and you are presented with generous, rough-cut slabs of meat stacked on a plate – no fuss, no sauce, nothing to get in the way of the sweetness of the warm pork  ) as well as ferdi’s and debris po’boys.

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