Cafe du Monde—New Orleans, Louisiana
Opened in 1862, Cafe du Monde has symbolized a prominent part of New Orleans food and culture for nearly two centuries.Located in the French Quarter, the bustling cafe is notorious for its French-style beignets and chicory brewed coffee.
The Creole tradition of brewing coffee with chicory began as early as the 1700s, when the French introduced the drink to the Gulf Coast.Since then, the recipe has been trademarked by Cafe du Monde to serve as the perfect complimentary beverage for their deep-fried and sugar coated desserts. Visiting the cafe for the first time, I was astounded by how small it actually was despite its vast history.The line spanned the length of Decatur Street, filled with nearly a hundred eager customers wishing to complete their NOLA experience with a classic taste of the city. Onlookers peered around, internalizing the laid-back culture of city natives, while simultaneously embracing the French and Spanish architecture that surrounded them.
I along with them desired to explore all that the city had to offer, yet was becoming increasingly desperate to be seated beneath the green and white awning of Cafe du Monde.Despite the humidity and stifling heat that April morning, I was excited to taste the much anticipated cafe au lait along with a warm, freshly fried beignet.As time passed it became apparent that people were hesitant towards leaving the cafe despite the apparent rush of customers desperately awaiting a table.We continued waiting patiently, knowing eventually our time to enjoy the mid-morning meal would come. Once provided a table, my family and I took little time to glance over the simple menu (consisting only of coffee, beignets, or freshly squeezed orange juice) before placing an order.
To our dismay, the temperature inside the open-air cafe was no better than that beneath the sweltering sun, but nonetheless we were content.The bustling staff was constantly dodging incoming customers as they raced to fill orders at the “to-go” section of the cafe. It was only a matter of minutes before we were presented with our order of beignets and assortments of coffee.Beneath the plate piled high with confectioner’s sugar were the famous pastries there had been so much chatter about.The overwhelming warmth and sweetness of the dessert enraptured me, proving itself to be a culinary delight.Charmed by the amiability of the waiting staff and the delectable refreshments, I was fully fueled for the day ahead of me.
NOLA culture is one all of its own; the city is flooding with distinct French elements and Spanish alike, alluding to its storied past.Unlike any American city I have been to, New Orleans has distinct architectural and cultural features that remain unrivaled.The allure of the city, whether it be enjoying authentic jazz music or experiencing the excitement Bourbon Street, is equally rewarding.However, like any great city NOLA is made famous by its food.The Po’boy sandwich, pralines, and crawfish are all dishes distinct dishes to the city, and as any good tourist I saw it my duty to try each one.Despite the delight brought by these, the beignets were the only dish to satisfy my sweet tooth.
Unrivaled in their craft are the cooks at Cafe du Monde, who have for generations served up a mouthwatering New Orleans staple.Reminiscing on the wonder that is Cafe du Monde, I am overcome with a feeling of nostalgia and longing to return to New Orleans.The trip to this Gulf city is one each should take if given the opportunity and of course it would not be complete without a visit to Cafe du Monde.