This is an open-ended blog ranging from news about my latest gigs and publications
to ruminations about politics, world affairs, culture and whatever piques my interest—or ire.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Thank goodness for Mark Latter. He's the man who saved Tujague's from becoming a seedy French Quarter T-shirt shop and preserved New Orleans's second oldest restaurant (est. 1856) following the death of his father, longtime owner Steven Latter, last February. Sylvaine and I had lunch there last week and were delighted by the elegant sobriety of the decor—white tiles, white walls, starched white tablecloths—the service, and especially the food. Though I grew up in New Orleans, I must confess that I had only eaten there once before, with my mother en route to Preservation Hall back in the 60's. What I had on that occasion was what Sylvaine and I ordered this time: the famous beef brisket with horseradish sauce. It was better than in my memory. Sylvaine, who is very picky about food and restaurants, announced that it was in fact a French pot au feu—potted beef stewed with vegetables—and found it excellent. (To be thoroughly French, though, she said it needed some leeks along with the carrots and potatoes.) For starters, Sylvaine had the shrimp remoulade and I had the gumbo. The shrimp were cooked to perfection—that is, not overcooked and rubbery as is often the case—and the remoulade sauce was zesty and piquant comme il faut. I've had better gumbo, but this one was decent.
What I appreciated about Tujague's was its respect for tradition mixed with a total lack of pretension. That is in keeping with its history. It was never a fancy restaurant for the silk stocking crowd and well-heeled tourists. It began as a place where the vendors at the French Market ate breakfast or lunch during their long workdays. My great grandfather, Simon Palanque, was a French-born butcher at the market and, I presume, a regular at Tujague's and the now defunct Begué's. Thanks again, Mark Latter. We'll be back. Maybe even today...

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