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Plane Math

New Orleans is not all fun and games. It’s serious business. And it requires paper, pencil, and plane math.

Begin by making a list of everything you intend to eat. It’s best to do this on the airplane, when hunger is most acute. Next, divide the items on the list by the number of days to determine precisely how many meals must be consumed per day. Generally it’s between three and five.

As soon as possible after you land, head to Mandina’s for gumbo and shrimp remoulade. Order the bowl of gumbo—not a cup. And don’t worry when it’s gone, you’ll likely return for another one on the way back to the airport on your last day. Find someone with a healthy appetite to share a Muffaletta at Central Grocery, and broiled oysters at Acme—just for starters. The French Quarter offers plenty of opportunity to walk off all those calories.

Parkway Bakery is a great place to order a shrimp and oyster Po’Boy that literally explodes when divided into portions. If, unlike me, you aren’t on a budget, your options increase dramatically: Commander’s Palace, Jacques-Imo’s, Emeril’s, and Mr. B’s Bistro where, if you order MR. B’S BARBEQUED SHRIMP, you’ll be happy they made you wear a bib. The French Quarter is home to many fine old restaurants that are filled with locals and tourists alike—you know, the places where the waiters think they’re doing you a favor by allowing you to occupy a table, and then pay too much for mediocre food. Of course I’m generalizing, and there are exceptions.

Although I was born in New Orleans and return once or twice a year, I have yet to eat at Tujaques or Antoine’s, and only recently ate at Galatoires. Oh, and a couple of years ago, I did have Eggs Benedict at Brennan’s. With those records, I’m clearly not considered a local.

At some point it’s important to save room for dessert. And there’s no better place than Angelo Bracato’s for a cannoli—or spumoni. It looks like an old fashioned ice cream parlor—well actually it is. Bracato’s was established in 1905. Its only facelift came post Hurricane Katrina, but they didn’t change a thing. I usually leave Brocato’s with three bags of seed cakes for Mr. Lee.

It’s probably beginning to sound like all I do is eat. It’s not true. I also write about eating. Besides, there are plenty of things about New Orleans that have nothing to do with eating.

Even the locals go to Pat O’Brien’s, but they do not order Hurricanes. I can’t stress this enough. Get a Mint Julep instead. Have two and you’ll even tolerate the dueling piano players in the Piano Lounge. If the notion of a Mint Julep conjures up images of Southern ladies fanning themselves on a muggy Louisiana afternoon, while daintily sipping something akin to lemonade, you are wrong! A Mint Julep is a powerful cocktail, where mint is muddled with sugar in the bottom of a tall glass that is then filled with ice and bourbon. If you’ve been with me for long, you already know how I feel about Sazeracs. And I’ll resist the urge to mention my favorite (Napoleon House) here because I have decided to immortalize it in another post.

Still, there must be some things about New Orleans that have nothing to do with eating or drinking. I just know there are.

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