Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Po-Boy Festival, New Orleans!


My sister (pictured right), a well-rounded, well-read, and much less busy than me due to her status as grad student and not "homeowner" (I almost want to say "lucky" ... ;) sent me an email last night with a link to this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/11/dining/11unit.html

If you don't feel like clicking, well the long and short of it is that New Orleans is in the NY Times! The New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival is back Uptown on Oak Street, on November 22 this year, and although it makes my heart glad to know that this little festival that celebrates one of the most simple pleasures of living in NOLA goes on, it also makes it heavy that I'll be missing it for the first time in years.

Flaky Leidenheimer bread. Crunchy breaded shrimp. Shredded lettuce. Pickles on everything. Gravy on fries. REMOULADE! All of these make me homesick.

I remember my first one. My then-boyfriend (now-husband) was out of town, and I went to meet a few people there to brave the crowds for $3 bites of heaven. I got a wrongful parking ticket (meter maids must work on commission there, because let me tell you, I have yet to meet a total of three people who have received even ONE legitimate ticket ...) that I later fought, but had a wonderful time listening to loud music, digesting over a cup of coffee at Zotz, and going back for more.

I remember my last one. My husband was in town, as was his sister, and being a po-boy lover himself, we were offended at her utter lack of enthusiasm for a festival devoted to some of the most delicious sandwiches ever. (Yes, non-foodies actually hurt our feelings, and make me upset. I am aware that I'm a freak.) Nothing daunted, Boy and I ate our way through a total of 6 booths combined, and refused to feel guilty about it since we walked there (having since learned from my first experience with the parking ticket).

This year, I trust that Drago's will be there, Tommy and his crew charbroiling their famous oysters in a thick, black cloud of smoke over open flame. I'll think about the airy French bread crusts littering the streets and crunching underfoot. I'll recall with fondness the feeling of roast beef gravy running down my arms and leaving brown trails of deliciousness (and disgustingness) all over my clothes. More importantly, I'll always remember the fun I had at every New Orleans festival, each of them so unique, and the love I have for this distinctive city I hope to return to one day.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, November 22, I plan to commemorate one of my favorite New Orleans traditions with one of my favorite New York ones -- the Deli Special at Corner (formerly Campus) Heroes.

I raise my loaf of bread in a salute to messy paper-wrapped regional sandwiches on that day -- to the ones I've eaten and enjoyed, and the ones I plan to in the future. Happy giant, gluttonous sandwich day, y'all.


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