For me, a trip into a grocery store is like a trip to the museum…no matter whether I have eaten or not, all of my senses are engaged as I go down each aisle. The grocery store is a place for me to relax as I peruse the aisle with all of the fruits, vegetables, seafood, meats, and cheeses. That is often where I decide what I would like to cook next. I am like a kid in a candy store…
There are some grocery stores I love because of the variety of products that are regional, in no particular order:
Dorignac’s grocery has been serving the Greater New Orleans area since 1947 and has a plethora of products native to Louisiana, from Blue Runner beans to Pontchaloua strawberries to mirlitons to locally caught seafood. The meat department even makes its own italian meatballs, stuffed crabs, au gratins, meatloaf, and red gravy (or marinara sauce). In addition to their cheese, wine, produce, meat and deli departments, they also do catering and have a bakery department which makes wedding cakes and delicious pastries.
Langenstein’s had its humble beginnings in 1922 when it was just a small corner grocery in Uptown New Orleans. However, it has now grown in size with two full size locations in Metairie and Uptown New Orleans. They offer full service cheese and meat departments as well as specialty items local to New Orleans, as well a full service catering department.
Rouse supermarket became a reality thanks to Anthony J. Rouse, Sr. in 1960 beginning with just 4 employees in a 7,000 square foot location in Houma, Louisiana. Mr. Rouse purchased his produce from local vendors and got his fish and seafood from local fishermen. He even made his own sausages and boudin in a shed out back. Today Rouse supermarket is represented by more than 50 stores spanning three states and keeps growing.
Shortly after moving to Austin, me and my husband went to see famed foodie and traveler Anthony Bourdain read from his newest book Medium Raw. The evening was amazing! I expected a reading and a book signing. Plain and simple. Bourdain was so colorful in his reading and story-telling. Through seeing him on No Reservations and A Cook’s Tour, I had gotten the impression that he was a bit standoffish and arrogant, yet upon meeting him to have my book signed he was kind, patient and friendly.
During the Q & A period, an audience member asked, “How do you feel about the oil spill in the Gulf”?
To paraphrase…He said that the people on the Gulf Coast are strong people but have been through too much already. The shrimpers and fisherman were already hanging by a thread and now it is almost like they have nothing. He stressed that the effects will be felt for a long time to come, but that he is amazed how the people in New Orleans keep rebounding because their spirit is so strong. I applauded and cheered as well as several others in the audience. He then said that there are places that resemble New York City, and places that resemble Chicago, but there is no place on earth that is anything like New Orleans! This time I applauded and cheered again in unison with others but a tear of joy was shed in that bittersweet realization that I am proud to be from New Orleans and no matter where I go New Orleans will always be my home!
Before we left the theatre we stood in line with over a hundred admirers of the world traveler and waited to have our books signed. The line moved quickly and while waiting I made several acquaintances. One was a transplant from Seattle who moved here for work and two others who were originally from Austin. The moment came when we were next in line to meet Bourdain. I have to admit that I was nervous but when it was my turn, I made sure to tell him that I was from New Orleans and how his comments about New Orleans really made my night. He asked, “Have you seen the show Treme?” To which I replied, ” Yes the entire season!” He said that they asked him to be a contributing writer for the second season and I said how great an addition that would be to the show!
Myself and Anthony Bourdain
So not only did I enjoy the show but Anthony Bourdain absolutely made my night! For weeks I have been plagued with homesickness, a feeling I expected. However, I did not think about just how much I would grow to appreciate my hometown. Yes, there are issues, but New Orleans rebounds consistently and grows stronger with each challenge. I am proud to call New Orleans my hometown. That does not mean that I will not venture outside. I am happy to be building a life in Austin, but New Orleans will always be my home. When I got to Texas I was amazed at how different things are, including the people, the culture and the food. It really opened my eyes. Just like the time I realized that Mardi Gras wasn’t a national holiday! And my eyes will continue to widen…
Posted by Dawn