Life in New Orleans: Gourmet heaven

July 11, 2014 11:00 AM

Angus Lind

Gourmet heaven

Illustration by Mark Andresen

With over 1,400 restaurants in New Orleans to dine in, what’s not to love?

These days restaurants are popping up in food-crazed New Orleans faster than the critics can keep up with them. 

Here’s an almost daily conversation refrain: “Have you been to …? Ohmygod. Fabulous. You’ve got to go.”

Sure I do. But I’ve got a list — not a bucket list — call it a feed bucket list that gets longer and longer and as much as I try I’m not putting a dent in it. 

I live near the Tulane University campus, just off Magazine Street near Audubon Park. The New York Times reported at the end of 2013 that the number of restaurants on the three miles of Magazine Street was pushing 70 — incidentally what I am doing age-wise. Maybe that could be my goal: 70 restaurants at age 70. Other things may be in decline, but my appetite is not one of them.

Food and restaurant conversation has never been on the back burner in the Crescent City. What Ella Brennan, the grande dame of Commander’s Palace, told me almost 20 years ago hasn’t changed: “There used to be this girl who worked for us, and she used to say, ‘Food in New Orleans is like sex — everybody’s interested.’

“Why is it so popular? Because it has taste. If you go to eat in most cities, even in France, the food in New Orleans is better,” Brennan said. “French techniques are the basis for almost all good cooking, but it’s very subtle. New Orleans food hits you over the head and makes you say, ‘Wow! It has taste and aftertaste, and it’s not subtle.’”

Well, let’s just say that we have not only been hit over the head, we have been pummeled by seductive old tastes revised and reinvented, and bold, ingenious new tastes we’ve never before experienced.

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A 1966 graduate of Tulane University, Angus Lind spent more than three decades as a columnist for The Times-Picayune.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu