The old man is filled with rage.
Had he a gun I would be shot dead, right here in the French Market.
I’m on a morning stroll, like a young boulevardier, soaking in the early sun of the day, taking pictures of people to put up on a field report and enjoying life in the greatest city in the US.
The ancient man has a snowy beard, a giant hook of a nose and little tiny beanie cap; prime photograph material I reckon.
“WHY YOU TAKE MY PICTURE-SLAVE TIME IS OVER YOU PIECE OF SHIT”
“I beg your pardon?” I’m nice and calm unlike some of my associates who, when accosted in the least, inevitably respond with violence. I will not tombstone piledrive this gentleman.
The harangue continues, so I casually take another picture of him (more paroxysms ensue) and walk off to eat some tomatoes as he continues to cavil and wail. The gathered throng looks on in horror and a few friendly racists make all sorts of comments on the gentleman’s lineage.
2015 Creole Tomato Festival is off to an auspicious start.
My memories of the old prick are soon swept away as I’m welcomed to the Purloo food booth by Hillery, a volunteer who is working as cashier. Her normal job is running a bnb in Algiers and it slowly dawns on us that we met, perhaps ten years ago, at Pascal’s Manale Uptown. I order the Rice and Andouille Fritters with Creole Tomato Aioli and retire to a nearby bench to eat.
Purloo’s offering is not good although to be fair I do have a high bar for arancini. The best rice fritters are unfathomably light with creamy rice enclosed in a perfectly fried breading. This dish has none of those qualities. It’s rock hard, the rice is chewy and gummy and the andouille is low-grade.
Shaking off the rare, bad New Orleans food, I attempt to eat at the Crepes a la Cart booth next but after waiting ten minutes I abandon hope as to ever being served, the teens running the booth are completely overwhelmed.
Who Dat Cafe, an unassuming coffee shop in the Marigny, has posted up with a dish they call Nero’s Shrimp Remoulade and it serves nicely to wipe away the bad experience at Purloo. The shrimp are plump and dressed well with a mayonnaise-based remoulade that is tart, creamy and finishes with a nice hit of spice.
I stroll past the demonstration area where one of the chefs from Food Drunk is preparing to demo the lone bad dish we had at last year’s festival. I keep right on stepping.
Just as I’m about to wade back into the fray and start plundering another food booth I get a text from a cook buddy who just got back onshore after a day spent 60 miles out on the Gulf, he’s got a cooler full of fish and wants to cook a bunch of tacos.
God I love New Orleans.