Perhaps no place in New Orleans says New Orleans more than the venerable Cafe du Monde. Established in 1862, it is often both the first and the last stop when staying in the Bayou City. One thing I did not know is they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, closed only on Christmas Day or when a hurricane passes through.
The menu is very simple, with dark roast coffee and chicory. beignets (the main attraction), white and chocolate milk, and fresh squeezed orange juice. The coffee is served black or au lait. Au lait means it is mixed half and half with hot milk. Beignets are square French-style doughnuts, drowned in powdered sugar. And they are delicious and out of this world.
Beignets were brought to Nawlins by the Acadians, whose version was sometimes filled with fruit. Today’s beignet is a square piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar. They are served in orders of three.
However, coffee came to the U.S. by way of Nawlins back in the 1700s. It was originally cultivated in Martinique around 1720, and the French brought it with them when they settled new colonies along the Mississippi River. But during the Civil War, coffee was in short supply. By adding chicory, it increased the flavor and body of the brew. I did not realize chicory is the root of the endive plant, in other words, a type of lettuce. It does a great job of softening the bitter edge of bad coffee.
People here like their coffee strong, as I do. My pairing of the beignets will be with my Peet’s French Roast coffee that I always travel with. Surprisingly Cafe du Monde has a de-caffeinated version, using ethyl acetate to extract the caffeine. I did not know ethyl acetate is a natural chemical found in many fruits.
Cafe du Monde now has eight locations in the greater Nawlins area. When I saw a sign in Japan, at a food court, reading Cafe du Monde, I got rather excited. Turns out they only had coffee! But both the coffee and the dough to make beignets are available at all the stores and on-line.
My last trip here had me walking over to Cafe du Monde every morning to pick up hot beignets and coffee. Now that I am staying across town for the first several days, I waited to have my beignet fix today. In either case, it is well worth the wait, and a must stop on your visit to Nawlins.
I probably will not be eating or even dining at any of the more well-known and well-worn names of the Nawlins dining scene. I will try to find something different, unusual, and even healthy. Is that even possible here? I hear they even deep fry the salads! FYI, I had lunch today at Acme Oyster House, starting with a half-dozen oysters, followed by some seafood gumbo and a half of a fried fish po’ boy. I washed it down with a couple of beers. But the bread pudding was TOO sweet for me. Two bites only.
The people I sat next to had this to say about the Nawlins women situation. There must be a shortage of 24 Hour Nautilus outlets and they do not have salad on the menu!!! Enough said!