Let’s talk about beignets and Café Du Monde.
Now, I’ve heard tell of another café in New Orleans that sells beignets. I planned to visit (purely for research) and compare beignets from the two places (solely so I could write about it here) but the boys wearied of my food death march through New Orleans and Café Beignet landed on the chopping block. So, given that I have nothing to compare it to, let me tell you why you should go to Café du Monde instead of Café Beignet.
Ok. Here it is: Café Beignet has a full food menu and also sells beignets. Café Du Monde sells beignets and coffee. That’s it.
To put it another way, if Café Du Monde sells bad beignets, they’re out of business. If Café Beignet sells bad beignets, they just sell more sandwiches. And you know what? Café Du Monde has absolutely nothing going for it except for beignets so they have to be good.
Here’s the Café Du Monde experience. You arrive and get in line. The cafe is vast and open air and full of people.
You inch forward in the line and scan the place for an empty table. You wait longer.
You see tourists hauling themselves up, brushing off errant sprinkles of powder, grabbing their dozen shopping bags and searching for an exit. You pounce! You sit down at their small sticky table piled with wads of used napkins, styrofoam cups and plates heaped with abandoned drifts of powdered sugar.
And you wait. You’d like to get agitated and look around for a waiter but I recommend settling in. Remember that you’re on vacation and you don’t have anywhere to be and if this takes forever, it matters not. Bring reading material.
Probably at some point a waiter will wander by, clean off your table and ask you how many coffees and how many beignets. Most (all?) coffee in New Orleans has chicory in it. It’s bitter and dark and better drunk with milk. Café du Monde serves a really good café au lait but don’t bother to buy their signature ground coffee to take home. It’s terrible.
Order a maximum of 2 beignets per person and even if you usually drink your coffee black, order it with milk. Your food will arrive quickly.
After that, it’s all over except the eating.
Pick up a beignet; knock off a pound of powdered sugar and bite. Brush away the sugar that falls on you and swig your café au lait. Repeat. Relax. You’re on vacation.
The beignets are good. The coffee is good. Life is good.