The restaurants are so numerous, one can hardly go amiss of them, and several may be tried before an equilibrium is found where all is satisfactory. Men with low incomes, live by thousands at the cheaper restaurants; they will breakfast upon a cup of coffee, with bread and butter, and pay ten cents for it. Twelve o'clock will find them in a saloon before the lunch tables, being helped to a dish of clam chowder, a slice of roast rump beef, lettuce, radishes, bread and butter, cheese and crackers washed down with a glass of claret, and only ten or fifteen cents to pay. At six o'clock they may perhaps afford a dinner with a glass of wine, which may be had at the cheaper restaurants, for fifty cents. And so they live, deprived of all knowledge of the constituents of a home.
In addition to familiar soups you may have offered you: shrimp gumbo, chicken gumbo, crab gumbo or oyster gumbo. Among your entrees may be stewed veal a la Creole. In the fish line: tenderloin trout, tarter; sheeps head, green trout, flounders or Spanish mackerel. For game, you may have mallards and teal, snipe, grassit, quail, robins, wild turkey or squirrel. The restaurants of Canal Street are noted by northerners for their "biscuit glace", a sort of frozen cream which is delicious. Occasionally a restaurant keeper is noted also for exorbitant charges, and a daily paper has recently been sued by one of them for publishing a statement of such charges.
Many persons who live in furnished rooms take their meals at restaurants, or have them sent, especially if ladies, to their rooms. Ladies do not generally dine in the open saloon of the restaurants, except during the Carnival week, when there is a great crowd. Rooms are attached to all restaurants where ladies may dine with or without escorts. At all these places the charges are a la carte- that is, each dish ordered is charged separately, and each dish called for is only sufficient for one person. All restaurants in the city take boarders by the month or week, and two meals per day only are furnished. No particular hour is fixed and each party has a table to itself. The number of dishes ordered is not restricted, except that game, or other dishes, the first of the season, are not generally served without an extra charge. Wine is cheap, and usually the price of board is fixed with or without wine. Hours for breakfast, 8 to 12 m.; dinner, 3 to 7 p. m. The restaurants are kept by Frenchmen and in the French style. The dishes are a mixture of French and Creole cooking, which is highly seasoned and is much appreciated by "bon vivants." Strawberries appear in the middle of winter, but come into season in March and last until end of April. Mespilus plums (Japanese plums) ripen early in the Spring. Dewberries appear in April and last about three weeks. Blackberries ripen about June and remain in season until July. Peaches make their appearance in May and last until September. Canteloupes or Musk-melons and Water-melons are in season in June. Figs make their appearance in July, and last six weeks. New potatoes and green peas come in during February, and artichokes in April. Wild ducks, snipe, woodcock and partridges are plentiful in the winter season. Rice Birds, Papabottes and other birds are much prized by "gourmets." Pompano, an expensive fish, is the fish that is most prized. Sheephead, Red-fish, Red-snappers, Shrimp, (from lake and river), are excellent fish. Out of the Crayfish (pronounced crawfish) is made the celebrated "Bisque Soup." Green turtle is very plentiful and can always be had. The restaurants have rooms where large dinners can be served in elegant style. For such dinners, special arrangements are made in advance at so much a head. At the Lake Ends, the termini of each railroad line, are excellent restaurants, and breakfast or dinner parties are often made up for excursions to these resorts. Begue's, No. 823 Decateur street, is a great place for Bohemian breakfasts for ladies and gentleman at 11 o'clock ($1.00 including wine). As there is always a demand for seats they should be reserved by telephone. (No. 2996-32.)
In New Orleans all the bar-rooms, or coffee-houses, as they were formerly called, are a combination of the French cafe and the American bar. In some of them seats were provided, but gradually the custom of taking drinks seated has fallen into disuse. The saloons are very handsomely decorated and some provide excellent liquors. The price of drinks, mixed and plain, is 10 or 15 cents. At nearly all these establishments, between half-past eleven and one o'clock, free lunches are spread for those who patronize the bar. These lunches consist of soup, fish, meat, vegetables, salads, etc. Ladies do not resort to these places, but at Lopez', on Canal street, at the Christian Woman's Exchange, corner Camp and South streets, and McCloskey's, 807 Canal street, (cakes, soda, coffee only,) excellent lunches can be had at reasonable prices.
The oysters are mostly from the Gulf, and are sold very reasonably. One may observe a sign reading as follows: "Oysters from Bayou Cook, both fresh and salt." A paradox meaning the oysters are freshly taken from the water, and that on account of no recent overflow or presence of river water in the oyster beds, they possess the desired flavor. During the fall months they are not salt enough, but as cold weather appears, and the rivers are lessened in volume, the beds become more salt, and the oysters better. Via the North Rampart Street cars to Old Basin, the teminus of Carondelet's Canal, which leads to Bayou St. John, through which vessels reach Lake Ponchartrain, one may find a fleet of oyster smacks, manned by as utterly an un-American class of skippers as one would find in Sicily. No English is spoken. Spaniards, Italians and a few Creoles are here grouped upon the wharves, waiting to dispose of their cargoes of oysters from Cat Island, where Bienville first landed ; from Ship Island, where General Butler first landed and subsequently sent his Confederate prisoners; from Bayou St. Peter and neighboring bayous, at prices fluctuating from seventy-five cents a bushel to seventy-five cents a barrel, depending upon the weather for fishing, and the demand.
This list from: NEW ORLEANS GUIDE, James S. Zacharie, 1902
A Souvenir of the "Paris of America" would he incomplete without the recipes for a few of the creole dishes for which New Orleans and the St. Charles Hotel chefs are justly famous.
This is the dish that drew from Thackery that famous tribute to Crole Cookery: "In New Orleans you can eat a bouillabaisse the like of which you have never eaten in Marseilles or Paris." The reason is clear; for in those old French cities the bouillabaisse is made from the fish of waters of the Mediterranean Sea, notably the sturgeon and the perch combined, while in New Orleans it is made from the matchless fish of the Gulf of Mexico, the red snapper and the redfish (poisson rouge). It will be noticed that it takes two kinds of fish to make a bouillabaisse. The first bouillabaisse was made in Marseilles, and the old Creole tradition runs that it was the discovery of two sailor fishermen, who were disputing as they were in the schooner as to proper way of cooking a sturgeon and a perch combined. On succeeded in making a delightful dish that would have gladdened the heart of any old French "bon vivant." The other failed. The successful one enthusiastically offered to teach his friend, and as the latter following the directions inplicityly, and the finishing touchers were being given to the dish, the teacher, seeing that the critical and important moment had come when the fish must be taken from the fire or it would be spoiled if cooked a moment longer, cried out, bringing down his hand emphatically: "Et quand ca commence a bouillir --baisse!" Hence, the name "bouillabaisse" which was given to the dish from that moment. From all portions of Europe people go to Marseilles to eat a "bouillabaisse" on the seashore.
The taste of the bouillabaisse still lingered in the mouths of the old French-Creole settlers of New Orleans. The famous old chefs sought two fish from the waters of the Mexican Gulf that might be used in the making of the dish with a reasonable hope of success. They chose the red snapper and the redfish. The result is told in Thackery's tribute. The Creole bouillabaisse, with the modificatioss and improvemets that early inegenuity suggested, is a dish that was the standing offering in antebellum days to every distinguished Parisian or foreigner that visited New Orleans. Its reputation is sustained by the Creole cuisinieres of our own day. It is made as follows:
First cut off the head of the red snapper and boil it in about one and a half quarts of water, so as to make a fish stock. Put one slice onion and an herb bouquet, consisting of thyme and bay leaf, into the water. When reduced to one pint, take out the head of the fish and the herb bouquet and strain the water and set aside for use later on.
Take six slices of redfish and six slices of red snapper of equal sizes and rub well with salt and pepper. Mince three sprigs of thyme, three sprigs of parsley, three bay leaves and three cloves of garlic, very, very fine, and take six allspice and grind them very fine, and mix thoroughly with the minced herbs and garlic. Then take each slice of fish and rub well with this mixture till every portion is permeated by the herbs, spice and garlic. They must be, as it were, soaked into the flsh. if you would achieve the success of this dish. Take two tablespoonfuls of fine olive oil and put into a very large pan, so large that each slice of the fish may be put in without one piece overlapping the other. Chop two onions very fine and add them to the heating oil. Lay the fish slice by slice in the pan, and cover, and let them "etouffe," or smother, for about ten minutes, turning once over so that each side may cook partly. Then take the fish out of the pan and set the slices in a dish.
Gumbo Nouvelle Orleans
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