big buts at the train tracks

Jon Henner

Jon Henner
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November 26
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full time father, full time deaf activist, some times writer, most times thinker, all times wandering.

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APRIL 8, 2009 1:09AM

Mouth Candy

Rate: 8 Flag

   

Thursday, some time around mid morning, or maybe it was just after noon; I don’t really remember and time in this case is irrelevant.  All I know is that I found myself parked at the Café du Monde, somewhere towards the back and corner.  I really wanted to sit outside and gawk at the pretty girls walking by – the ones with the tank tops with the cleavage saying hi to the world, but all the tables were full (if there were tables at all) except for the one that I quickly filled up with my hung-over bulk.

Everyone told me that in New Orleans, I needed to eat at least three things: beignets, po’boys, and some sort of seafood gumbo, particularly the types with crawfish.  I managed to consume sopping wet po’boys at a place called Mother’s, somewhere in the French Quarter, and gumbo with just about every other meal.  Crepes with gumbo on the side?  Sure.  Scrambled eggs and gumbo?  Yo!  Bloody Mary with pickled green beans and a shot of gumbo?  Give me some of that.

By Thursday, some time around mid morning, or maybe it was just after noon, I was ready to cross off the third item of my eat-your-way-out-of-Orleans list (The fourth, non-existent item was a genuine Creole or Cajun girl.  I wasn’t particular about either kind, as long as I had that spicy experience).  The waiter came by and I pointed out my order.  Beignets.  Chicory.  Hell yes to powdered sugar.  Nothing in the Chicory, please.  I like my drinks pure, original, and strong enough to exorcise my hangover.  I had more drinking to do that night and needed to be purified before running across the coals again.

Order submitted, I turned to other beautiful objects.  They were sitting in the chairs across from me, to my side, or off through the windows; hunched over, eating, talking, laughing (not at me), and smiling.  The women were truly beautiful, I thought, if only because they were sharing this morning, or afternoon, with me and my bodacious hangover.  As a deaf man, I spend a lot of time staring at lips.  I’ve learned to read them, with my lips, my eyes, my fingers, and occasionally, when warranted, my tongue.

I watched the women move their lips and imagined that their lips were on mine.  Thin lips with little, tight kisses.  Fat lips making my chin wet.  Small lips lost in mine, but eager none-the-less.  Large lips that make me wonder if a deep breath will elicit the essence of her lunch.  Red lips, black lips, lips with misshapen lipstick.  Tight lips, loose ones, and some with mustaches that feel scratchy on my face.

The waiter clattered my beignets and chicory in front of me.  The only lips that mattered to me then were mine and I was smackin’. 

Beignets are a French snack, one with a variety of names.  A French friend of mine, upon seeing the picture I took of my dish, exclaimed “bugnes!”  They are that, as well as elephant ears and funnel cakes.  What makes beignets much better than the ears and cakes I bought in varying festivals and carnivals across the country are that beignets, being all kinds of awesome, are make in New Orleans.  I’m not being chavvish, I promise.  Bread, essentially, is an organism of its environment.  Bagels are better in New York.  Pizza crust is better in Chicago.  Sourdough Bread is best in San Francisco.  Beignets are New Orleans. 

When I look back on my time in New Orleans, there are many things that come to mind.  There was the girl in the warehouse district who took my breath away with her kiss.  There was the transsexual shimming on the pole in one of the greasy strip clubs I found with my German friend.  There were the blues cellists, the fat men singing, and the crowds of drunken, middle aged people groping each other on Bourbon Street.  There was the man who told me about his son’s medical problems, while I fell against the fence surrounding the boarded up Church.  And then, there was my beignet. 

I wanted to snort it.  Instead, I bent over and started licking.  I licked the sugar until I could use my hands to break the beignet up and shove its crispiness in mouth.   It’s been some years so I can’t aptly describe how the beignets tasted.  Good is my best word.  The chicory wasn’t that good.  Really, I prefer coffee. 

The Café du Monde on most mornings, or possibly afternoons, is rather crowded.  When I finished, I wanted to leave because I could sense the waiter’s brain-tentacles trying to clear out my table.  The waiter, sensing me firmly in his grasp, came over to accept payment.  I offered my card and found out that again, I ate in a cash-only place without cash.

Bartering was out of the question.  I didn’t have anything of value and the waiter didn’t seem interested in my other talents.  Meekly, I told him that I’d leave something of importance while I went to find an ATM.  The waiter thought my offer over for a minute before waiving me out the door.  Heaven, for that morning, or afternoon, was on the house.

 

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Damn. Now I want beignets. And a margarita at St. Joe's.
Great post, as usual. Thoroughly evocative of New Orleans. I almost stayed there the first time I went there.
(fanning self..)

Whew!

(My!)
whew. hose me down, now. I will never eat beignets the same way again.

and, oh, did you have a muffaletta?
I know...he's kinda cute, eh?
I want some gumbo. Dang.
I need me a roadtrip to the "Big Easy" now. Some of the very best snacks, food, drinks, music, women, and just plain friendly people on the planet. I-10 East, here I come!
Rated & Cheers!
AnniThyme: Me too.

aim: Me too. Again.

P13: Only kinda? Cheekbones, I may be retired from the professional flirting arena, but I have no qualms about dusting off what I can do to bump that kinda to truly. :-D

lpsrocks: I did eat a Muffaletta, but I don't recall it being a highlight of my food tour. I think that's because every sandwich shop has their bastardized version of a muffaletta. Even within NOLA, finding a genuine, non-parodied version of a muffaletta is a bit hard.

Stellaa: Thanks for the correction. Nirvana it is!

Texas: Watch for the dude with the kid and the crazy hair hitchhiking. That'll be me, wanting my way back to NOLA.
Oops..

You just did it right there. Yup.

REALLY cute.
Excerpt from The Beatitudes: A Pinch and Scrimp Adventure by Lyn LeJeune, amazon.com in both Kindle and book. A book for and about New Orleans (proceeds go to The New Orleans Public Library Foundation)

She had grown up in a New Orleans housing project shamefully named Desire. Desire had been constructed in an isolated area northwest of greater New Orleans, bordered by industrial canals and railroad tracks. Pinch often recounted her nights as a young child lying on the floor under a matted blanket listening to gunshots in the night. Desire had been built in the late 40s over the Hideaway Club where Fats Domino had played his first gigs. Pinch swore she could hear Fats sing “My Blue Heaven” just for her. As Pinch’s childhood tumbled forward, she learned survival skills. By the age of twelve, she had tried just about every street drug going and stole to keep from going hungry, acquiring the nickname Pinch. She would have been doomed to a child’s death but for the help of an aged aunt. Pinch pulled herself up, finished high school, and made it through college by working sometimes two shifts as a housekeeper in seedy hotels that bordered the Ninth Ward. A city auditor once asked her why she hadn’t worked in the Lafayette Square District or the famous 625 St. Charles suites. “You could have paid for a Ph.D. with the tips alone.” And she replied: “Well, I guess ‘dis sista just feeling mo’ secure wid da brothers. Ozanam Inn be my place, homeless peoples and all.” Then she rubbed his arm. The poor guy broke out in a sweat, brushed his thinning hair back with an aged-spotted trembling hand, and looked at me for intervention. Later I asked Pinch why she’d stuck it to the auditor; she shrugged her shoulders and replied: “I guess just every once and a while I have to remind myself where I come from. Pride has many forms, love.” Pinch had overcome. She was the bravest person I ever knew.

Elijah Rising