In the recent foodie-adventure movie “Chef”, Jon Favreau’s character said this to his son as they walked through the French Market in New Orleans: “You’re never going to taste your first beignet again…They don’t taste like this anywhere else in the world.”
He was right, first “tastes” (of anything) will never be a first again and so should be savoured and celebrated (where appropriate). Regarding beignets in particular, this was my first bite…
It was my first time in New Orleans and I had spent my first day on the Hop On/Hop Off tourist bus, getting a feel for the city, its different neighbourhoods and its interesting rhythm. The weather was wonderful and welcoming: warm with clear, blue skies and the June sunshine brightening the day and keeping the nights balmy.
I made two new friends at the hostel I was staying at and that first evening, we headed into town together for some good ol’ Nawlins night life. We spent most of the night pub-hopping in Frenchman Street, enjoying the different live bands and their unique sounds. At around 2 am we found ourselves sitting in an emptier-than-usual Café du Monde. It was so special to be there at that time, to have avoided the typical kilometer-long queues that were the norm during the day.
Inside, the café was romantically lit, a pale yellow hue and all around chattering and laughing could be heard from the late-night patrons as well as staff, as they prepared orders in the nearby kitchen. The night air was warm and sweet-smelling as 2 guys and a girl (us) sat together to share this first-time experience. The table was round and the beignets square, capped by white peaks of powdered sugar. The dough was crisp on the outside but soft as my teeth sunk through it, still warm from being freshly fried and sweetened predominantly from the sugar on top. The warm beignets were washed down by chilled chocolate milk, sipped straight from the carton and it felt like the stuff children’s dreams were made of: the simple pleasures of sweet treats shared with friends at the playground.
The night (or early morning) ended with us walking through the city back to the Garden District where our hostel was located. The stars were out and the city grew quiet as we moved further away from the lively French Quarter but the conversation and laughter amongst new friends continued.
It was a magical evening and a wonderful setting for my first taste of a beignet, certainly unforgettable and irreplaceable.