Monday, April 2, 2012

"A Tradition Unlike Any Other"

It's the official song of Spring. When you can't go more than 7 minutes on CBS without hearing Jim Nantz say those magical words, you know that (1) Easter is right around the corner, so break out the Elmer's Gold Brick Eggs, and (2) the temperature will be steadily rising for the next 6 months, so enjoy the beautiful weather while you can.

Also, please reserve Dad's place on the couch for Saturday and Sunday. Yes, he realizes that it's Holy Week, which is why he will be spending plenty of time praying at Amen Corner.

A tradition unlike any other. Last night as I prepared to welcome a pair of Rock Chalk, Jayhawk fans into my home for tonight's big game, Jim Nantz's voice came from the TV just as I began to answer an email about what "can't miss" New Orleans foods that they should be sure to try while they are in town. It's nice when blog post ideas materialize from thin air, especially on a Monday.

New Orleans has many culinary traditions and dishes which are unlike any other. Many of these traditions have evolved from our ancestral cultures, and others have current approximate impostors in lands near and far. But no one does our indigenous foods quite like we do.

Beans and rice is a simple dish served from India to the Caribbean and Mexico, but no versions come close to resembling the pickled pork, ham hock, or tasso laden plates served around New Orleans every Monday. For centuries Italians have been feasting on antipasti courses of olives, salumi, and cheese, but nowhere else do they pile those ingredients onto a 10 inch round sesame seeded loaf and call it lunch. You can get a hero or a grinder or a hoagie or a submarine sandwich almost anywhere in the U.S., but it's tough to find a decent po-boy in any other city than the Big Easy. When other people are picking up their morning coffee and donuts from Dunkin, we are sipping cafe au lait and eating beignets. And despite what others may claim, a snowball is far superior to a snow cone or Hawaiian shaved ice or whatever else those poor children are relegated to during hot summers in other parts of the world.

One city with many traditions unlike any other. Which ones am I forgetting about? Let's hear about them in the comments.


Jamie Montero said...

Yep, I'm a sucker for the traditions.
I was just trying to decide where I was getting my red beans from today when I saw the post. And now, thanks to the picture, I will be getting a Hansen's SnoBliz after work.

Rémy Robert said...

This post made me so happy. I don't even know what the crawfish boil's counterpart is in other cities--clam bakes in New England, BOOORING--, but maybe that's the whole point. And (most) gumbo is far superior to clam chowder of the New England and Manhattan varieties.