Man, oh man, do I love the South. I went to college in the Quasi-South (Richmond and I agree that since it was once the capital of the Confederacy and the grocery store is closed on Sundays, it should count as the South. I’ve met enough people from, say, Alabama – the Real South – that disagree with that assessment, though, to know that I can’t just go around calling Virginia “The South”). I also tried (unsuccessfully) to move to Nashville when I graduated (thank you, shitty job market). And let me tell you, after a long weekend in New Orleans, my love affair with the South is still going strong (sorry, Boyfriend, I know how you feel about mountains and snow).
Don’t get me wrong: NOLA is all about the tourists, at least in the French Quarter where we were staying, so it’s expected for people to kiss your ass while pouring booze down your throat. But even when you stray a little from the beaten path, and wind up in, for instance, a non-descript bar called Buffa’s at 10am because you heard a rumor of $2 mimosas and hot damn that’s cheap…the people still rock. And don’t treat you like a yankee intruder in their bar. Which is good, considering we came back every single morning of our trip, including once at 6am before we even went to bed for the night.
But we did more than drink – we ate. A lot. We had a deliciously greasy, gravy-smothered (condiment hatred be damned, it was fabulous) beef and turkey po boy encased in thick, buttered French bread, and another one stuffed with tiny, delicately breaded and fried shrimp. We had warm, melt-in-your-mouth beignets from Café du Monde at 2am, and, when the sun came up, we had a frozen café au lait that put a certain coffee chain and their smoothie-like beverages to shame. Boyfriend ate three of the four sections of the famed Central Grocery muffuletta, which was, incidentally, bigger than his head. And pralines. Buttery, creamy, rum-flavored pralines with delicious pecans barely hidden beneath the sugar. Melt.
And then there was my food triumph of the week. Of the year, maybe.
Boyfriend wanted oysters. Specific oysters, mind you, that came from a specific restaurant that a specific coworker had recommended and were prepared a specific way – raw. Raw oysters. I know, I know, I eat sushi. But sushi isn’t slimy. And it’s covered in rice and (the way I eat it, at least) dunked in soy sauce. Not so with the oysters. The oysters did not look appealing.
Boyfriend smothered them in lemon juice and hot sauce, slurped two of them down, took a swig of beer, and demanded I eat one. Hell no, I told him, but he’s persistent, and he was all, this is Acme Oyster House! And didn’t I want to eat one here of all places?! There was a line a block long outside, they must be good! So I pummeled him with questions:
What do they taste like?
Am I going to throw up?
But do they taste like fish?
Am I going to throw up?
Are you sure I’m not going to throw it up?
But what if I throw it up? Because it’s really crowded and throwing up on a crowded bar is embarrassing.
And then, I ate one (can we call it eating if it isn’t chewed?). And I did not throw up. At all. Anywhere! And it wasn’t half bad. Basically, it just tasted like salt and hot sauce, but I like salt and hot sauce, so you’ll get no complaints outta this girl.
At least, not about the oyster.