My bride and I just returned from a wonderful, four-day trip to the multi-cultural and free spirited City of New Orleans. We decided to celebrate my 75th birthday in this city of food and music, and we are glad we did. Unfortunately, I ate so much I seriously doubt I’ll make it to 76.
New Orleans is not for everybody. If you would like to go someplace and wish to lose weight, definitely don’t travel to the Big Easy. If you simply want to maintain your weight, again rule out New Orleans. If you are prepared to gain a minimum of a pound a day, then this city is calling your name.
There are more restaurants per capita, and good ones at that, than any place I have ever been. It seems as if you are never more than a stone’s throw from a fine eatery. The problem with New Orleans is that in the four days there I could not possibly eat at a mere fraction of all the establishments recommended by my friends back in Malibu.
When I told some friends I was heading to New Orleans, the comments went something like this, “You must eat the cheesecake at The Revolution,” or “The gumbo at Commander’s Palace is out of this world,” or “The turtle soup at Galatoire’s is the best.” I am happy to report that, being the dutiful friend I am, I tried to follow all recommendations—and in every instance, my friends were right on.
Perhaps the most memorable dish was bananas foster at Brennan’s. I don’t think this dessert was to die for, but rather to kill for. The waiter came to the table with a large frying pan containing a huge chunk of butter, on top of which sat a mountain of brown sugar and cinnamon. A flame was lit, and as the waiter stirred the butter and sugar into a syrupy, high caloric mixture, he added a bit of rum and then some liqueur. The whole thing went up in flames, at which point he added a couple of sliced bananas and two scoops of vanilla ice cream. I can tell you that as I watched the preparation of this mouth-watering dish, I could literally feel my arteries hardening.
New Orleans might well be the shellfish capital of our country. Crabs, oysters, lobsters and, of course, shrimp dominate the menus. As I perused the various menus, I could only think of the famous shrimp monologue in “Forrest Gump,”—“You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp Creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.” I think you get the idea.
By now, you are probably wondering whether I did anything other than eat during my stay in New Orleans. The answer is no, not much, but I did manage to squeeze in a few other things. We took an airboat into the mucky bayous and watched our guide feed marshmallows to the alligators (animals like to eat, also); we toured the National World War II Museum, which is both moving and informative; we listened to different kinds of great jazz; and we toured the Lower Ninth Ward which is slowly on its way to recovery but still looks vulnerable to the whims of nature.
New Orleans is a great city and one of our truly unique metropolitan areas. I was amused by a quip from Tennessee Williams or Mark Twain (there seems to be some dispute as to who said it): “America has only three great cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.”