My dad drove me out to New Orleans East one day, over a big ol’ bridge. We ordered bahn mi from a Vietnamese bakery and took a (signature) infuriatingly roundabout, aimless drive in search of areas of historical significance; once we found the field where they fought the Battle of New Orleans, all was settled. The two of us sat at a bench under a regal old oak to eat: spicy-sweet plum sauce melded with thick mayonnaise, bright pickled vegetables —snappy carrots and jalapenos, sprigs of cilantro— contrasted with rich slices of roasted pork, all on a soft hoagie. Wonderful.
When my mom and Aimee came into town one following evening, all the ladies went to a wine bar to eat Italian-leaning fair: mushrooms and taleggio on grilled ciabatta, ceci soup with rosemary in an earthy broth, fried polenta with tomato sauce, to name a few dishes on the table. We picked up local ice cream from the neighborhood market and had some for dessert. It was happy.
Now, the next day —the last day— was epic: our local hippie/hipster coffeeshop provided apple, orange, and carrot juice and the morning paper; then, it was on to Metarie, to tour my mother’s old suburban stomping grounds and to visit a classic Italian-American po-boy shop that provided a fried shrimp sandwich that was perfection. Later still was a visit to Marigny to chat with my uncle and listen to some band practice, to stroll the French Quarter, and to eat one of the best meals I’ve yet had: picture it— a Japanese place just around the corner. Hip but unassuming. Classic cult movie posters; a dark, wooden interior. Barbecued eel on sticky rice with a sweet, dark sauce and scallions; french fries with wasabi mayonnaise, bright cucumber salad, Japanese beer, sisterly love. We met our dad for midnight beignets at Cafe du Monde, and walked sleepily along the river, and digested with surprising contentedness.
The next day, we hit the road.