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New Orleans: I Fell For Her Stomach First

photo of crawfish boil

This was not our first meal, but it was close to this. Quite the shock for the Wyoming girl. Copyright by WyoJones. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Our first meal in New Orleans was at Taco Bell.

The hubs is still mortified by this.

It was late, we had a hungry eight-year-old, a month old baby, and I’d had a very long day. So we assuaged our hunger and went to bed. Within a few days, we were faced with the above. It tested this Wyoming girl, I will admit. Particularly the kid sitting across from me sucking a crawfish head. New Orleans was so opposite from Wyoming, as I’ve mentioned before, but the Big Easy knew how to woo me, the shameless hussy.

I fell for her stomach first.

So, the day after Taco Bell, we set out to find something quintessentially New Orleans to eat.

We had checked into a place on the West bank, though it was actually east of the city. Took me years to adjust to that one. We’d come over the Greater New Orleans bridge (what it was called back then) at night. I remember being freaked out, because one of the spans didn’t look finished. (It wasn’t.) We loaded the kids back in the van and headed toward the city.

Somehow the hubs got us into the Garden District. I can remember twisting in my seat, trying to see everything as we drove down St. Charles. Don’t ask me which direction we headed. I spent my first ten years in New Orleans turned around.

Ostensibly, we were looking for food, but the hubs—when he gets driving—is sometimes hard to stop. I’d point at a place, he’d say, “Yeah, that looks interesting,” and keep driving.

We stayed on St. Charles until we had to turn on to S. Carrollton. (It’s either make the turn or you’re in the river.) Just a few blocks along Carrollton, I saw it.

La Bonbonniere. [Insert hallelujah chorus here]

The hubs tried to drive past.

I told him to go back. He looked at me, saw looming crazy in my eyes, and went back. And so began a pastry love affair that lasted until—sob—they retired and sold the space to another bakery sometime in 1991, I think. I try to block out the day we went there and it was gone. There may have been wailing and gnashing of teeth, and not just on my part.

In my mind, I can still go through the doors and see those glass cases of yumminess. Chocolate cream puffs bigger than the biggest Big Mac. Eclairs—okay, I’m going to start sobbing on my keyboard again. Let’s just say that it was beautiful to see, even better to eat, my favorite place to go, my favorite place to take visiting family and friends, and well, possibly my favorite dessert place of all time. I’m not sure if it is good or bad that we didn’t take pictures. No cellphones back then and well, you go in, you didn’t want to waste time on non-essential things like not eating. And seeing it, knowing it’s gone forever? Yeah, probably good we don’t have photographs.

If I had a time machine, that might be the first place I’d go. With an ice chest, because I am sure it would be as good as I remember. Sigh.

I had other food crushes during our eighteen years in New Orleans. The hubs had broad ranging tastes, so we tried lots of fun places. Some of them are gone now, too. I can still remember him eating a soft shell crab po’boy at JazzFest. He’d take a bite and it looked the the crab moved. Yeah, never tried one of those, just because of that.

bourbon street sign

Bourbon Street The French Quarter New Orleans Louisiana

I learned to love most of it, (no alligator, just couldn’t do it). Expanded my Wyoming bland palate a lot. But for me, it was always about dessert. The hubs would laugh because we’d go some place and I’d turn to dessert menu first, then plan my meal back from there so I’d have room for it.

I’ve been away from New Orleans for thirteen years now, which means I’m not up on the desserts (sniff), so I did a little looking for you, just in case you’re heading Nawlins way any time soon and like to plan your eating back to front, too:

Five Top New Bakeries

7 Quintessential New Orleans Desserts and Where to Find Them

Another of my favorite places IS still around: The Palace Cafe. (You might notice I set the link to take you directly to the desserts. Lol) White Chocolate Bread Pudding is awesome. And you can make it at home, though it’s not quite the same. One thing I learned, eating my through many varieties of bread pudding, the bread matters. A lot.

So yeah, New Orleans got me by my sweet tooth and never let go. Like I said, not only shameless, but clever. Very clever.

So, has food ever made you fall in love with a place? Have you eaten New Orleans? Do you have a food you dream about? I really don’t want to be alone here, guys. You know I love comments so much that I pick a favorite to receive my monthly AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value).  Recipient is announced the first blog post of the new month.

And I just realized I totally forgot to announce my gift basket winner in the last post. Please mark it down to being up to my eyeballs in edits for Dead Spaces. So, drum roll please:

Cindy Hamilton!

I’ll be in touch with you about how to get you your basket. Thanks for stopping by and sharing to everyone!

Perilously yours,

Pauline

P.S. In Relatively Risky, Nell falls for New Orleans kind of the same way I did—stomach first.

Relatively Risky cover art

The Big Easy isn’t always easy…

You can read the first book, Relatively Risky in the series now, or grab the short story, “Family Treed.” And stay tuned for Dead Spaces releasing in May! (Sign up for newsletter, so you’ll hear first!)