What America Tastes Like

No Selling Cat in New Orleans

Elizabeth’s sits on a corner by the Mississippi river. It is a damn charming piece of New Orleans bywater culture.

Is it the little painted tiles in the bathroom with art on them? One of the little tile-vignettes is a sign that says: “No selling cat.” That’s a sign you’ll see all over the city (along with “Be nice or leave.”)

Despite being born in Indianapolis, I’m not usually an ignorant hick. Since just about every house in the bywater had a cat slinking around the front door I saw these “No selling cat” signs and thought:

“Huh, what do you know? People enjoy pets so much here that sidewalk cat-peddling has become a common nuisance for business owners.”

Okay, that was naive. In this case, yes, I was Woody Harrelson on Cheers. It turns out that the “No selling cat” means “Do not prostitute here.”

But it ain’t the tiles in the bathroom that make this place charming.

It is the food.

Look around in the morning and every single plate coming out of the kitchen is some sort of piled-high masterpiece of pastry and whipped cream or local delight. The effect of “Oh, I want THAT” coming from all directions at once is dizzying.

We felt like we found one of the gems of the city, here.

Perhaps adding to the overall experience was an unexpected loss. Our first time here, I got one of the best po boys I had in the city.

It had a hot and sweet house-made BBQ sauce that conjured magic from those fried shrimp. It was never to be seen again. After that bright shining day, the po boy never returned to the menu. Possibly making this the only “po boy-free” menu for miles around.

But everything we tried was either very good or great. House-made sauces, desserts, everything.

Grit Fries – an awesome invention. Perfect little crispy creamy geometric forms. You want to make a grit-fort but you eat each one you pick up to stack.

Biscuits and Gravy – are great compared to other areas of the country, with fluffy biscuits and real-cream tasting gravy. But you get the sense the pancakes and waffles are their breakfast wheelhouse.

Fried Chicken – ask for the house chicken-finger dipping sauce alongside this, because it doesn’t come with the sauce unless you ask. I tried this just after my “Willie Mae’s Scotch House” experience. I was still reeling from that, but this stuff is better than any fried chicken you’ll get outside the South.

Praline Bacon – yes, it is praline bacon. Although not crunchy, it is ambrosial, increasingly so with each candied strip. Try sharing a plate with someone and find out just how strong that relationship really is.

601 Gallier St
New Orleans, Louisiana

“What America Tastes Like” is an exploration of sub-cultures in the US by way of food. Eating is something all people do, and it also happens to be one of the few expressions of “difference and diversity” in culture that just about all people are ready to celebrate. Regardless of our politics and religion and ontologies, we all like to eat food with our mouths.

Food makes family happen.



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