This review is from: Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde: Life Stories about Food (Hardcover). This book is very much a labor of love for Peggy! What started as the gem of an idea has spawned into an annual event, in multiple states, attended by hundreds! Everyone who comes to NOLA, is from NOLA, or has lived in NOLA, has their own Cafe Du Monde story! Cafe du Monde is now 150 years old, and celebrating its 70 year of being owned and ran by the Fernandez family. They have been such an integral part of NOLA, that no one can imagine it without them! They have operated 24 hours a day, 364 days a year (no work on Christmas!), for that 150 years, with the exception of after Hurricane Katrina, when they were shut down for 10 weeks! When they reopened, NOLA sighed a deep sign of relief, and knew recovery was underway!
Peggy knew this love and what started as an offhand family comment blossomed into an idea for others to share their Cafe Du Monde moments, while being served good food- aka a typical Louisiana family event! The book aims to share some of those stories, and the wonderful food, with everyone! A vignette that resounds with us all if that from Drew Ramsey, owner of Hubig’s Pies. He tells the tale of how his father was trying to get back into NOLA after Hurricane Katrina and was admitted because he was wearing a tshirt with Savory Simon, their pie mascot on it. The memory is even more poignant for NOLA, as the Hubig Pie Factory burned down in July, leaving NOLA bereft of its nearly century old pies for the time being (they are promising to rebuild).
Another poignant vignette comes from Sal Sumseri, who speaks of the 135 years of P&J Oysters, and how they have survived wars, disasters god made (like Hurricane Katrina) and man-made (like the BP oil spill) that hurt their company, yet they have survived and will continue to, as long as their is one oyster left in Louisiana. Their company’s resolve to survive echoes that of many people who live in Louisiana, and refuse to leave, no matter what comes their way.
The book starts off with a wonderful forward from Peggy explaining how the show came about. She then includes a brief history of Cafe Du Monde, then includes sixty-seven of the “Louisiana” vignettes from people who have been in the Meanwhile Back at Cafe du Monde show over the past 2 years.
Chefs, and artists alike, provide recipes with their vignettes, like Leah Chase’s Shrimp Clemenceau, Nell Nolan’s Pineapple Upside Down Cakes, Michael Regan’s Antoinne’s Crawfish Cardinale (which is just to DIE for), Marilyn Monette’s Tequilla Shrimp and Jay Ducote’s Blackberry Bourbon Boston Butt (which will have you running to the store for the ingredients!).
This book is more than just a cookbook or a travel book. It is a labor of love- of love fro NOLA, for the food that binds us together, and for the memory of one place that screams NOLA like a neon sign, calling us all back over and over, to share a little puff of powdered paradise and shared nostalgia. If you love NOLA, get this book. If you have visited, or want to visit, get this book. Peggy has outdone herself with her expression of love for NOLA with this book!