Nothing satisfies a craving for music, history and top-flight Cajun and Creole cuisine like a trip back to Louisiana’s Crescent City -- a post-Katrina journey back to the Big Easy.
DeAnna gives an overview of the book:
Never mind that the plane touched down at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport four hours before, or that I had already unpacked in the Chateau Sonesta balcony suite overlooking the French Quarter’s famous Bourbon Street. It’s only when I was sitting among friends in a restaurant occupying a historic 1850s building and delving into platters of crab cakes, oysters on the half shell, gator sausage, and dark and steamy seafood gumbo that I felt like I was truly back in New Orleans.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the city’s music: the finger-snapping jazz, the heart-pumping blues, the toe-tapping zydeco. And I treasure its history, a rich blend of European, African, Caribbean and Native American influences that date back to the city’s time under French and Spanish rule, before the Louisiana Purchase made it part of the United States.
For me, it has always been about the food – and it was the chance to enjoy my favorite Cajun and Creole dishes in their natural setting that drew me back to the city after a two-year absence. Before my travel plans were even arranged, I was dreaming up the perfect first meal. Should it be sweet beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde? Crawfish etouffée overlooking Jackson Square? A muffuletta at Central Grocery? Bananas Foster at Brennan’s? Oh, the possibilities.
I’d last visited in 2005 for the French Quarter Festival, an annual weekend celebration in mid-April that prides itself on being the largest free music festival in the South. Just a few months after I left, Hurricane Katrina hit, the levees failed, and the city was left in tatters, a victim of the costliest natural disaster in American history.
Some wondered if New Orleans could ever recover. I didn’t. Too many people rushed to its aid, and it’s a testament to the strength of the city’s culinary culture that many of the most ardent supporters have been the chefs and restaurateurs who preserve its tradition.
Author of romantic historical fiction set in Victorian and Edwardian America. In THE BELLY DANCER (Berkley, 2009), readers are plunged into the real-life belly-dancing scandal at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. In DANCING AT THE CHANCE (Berkley, spring 2012) takes readers on a...