Life List #115: Eat Café Du Monde beignets in New Orleans.
When you think of New Orleans you might think of The French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Mardi Gras, streetcars, jazz…and, of course, food. New Orleans is, after all, known for so many iconic foods: crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, gumbo, oysters, po’ boys, muffuletta. And beignets. Particularly, Café Du Monde beignets.
Café Du Monde opened in the New Orleans French Market in 1862 and nowadays I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to write a listicle of things to do in New Orleans or best foods in New Orleans without including the beignets. So, naturally, “eat beignets from Café Du Monde in New Orleans,” was on my life list, probably because I read about it on a listicle of things to do in New Orleans or best foods in New Orleans (or, more likely, saw it on The Food Network.)
And so, one of my first missions on my first free morning in New Orleans, was to head towards to French Market to get myself a cafe du monde beignet.
It was, maybe, noon, when I got there, prime time, and there was a line of people down the block waiting to find a seat. Not wanting to spend my first free day in a line, I moved on to the smaller, but still long, but at least moving quickly, take-out line. A friend had suggested taking beignets to go and eating them on a bench on the Mississippi. It seemed like a fair enough plan.
Within ten minutes I had a piping-hot bag of three beignets, a piping-hot cup of cafe au lait (because that’s what everyone says to get), and a cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice (because, at that moment, that’s what I really wanted).
And I carried them all up to the river-front. And I sat down. And I took a million photos and a million Snapchats of the delicate little balls of dough in front of me.
After properly documenting, I picked one up and a breeze blew powdered sugar all over my black leggings. (Want to know how to eat a beignet? Messily. Very messily.) I closed my eyes. I took the pastry to my lips.
And I took a bite of my Café Du Monde beignet.
And it was…OK.
Café Du Monde beignets in New Orleans:
Maybe I was expecting some miracle pasty that would transcend all other pastries in the world. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe it was a bad batch. Maybe I should have waited and eaten in. Maybe I just really don’t like beignets to begin with.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. It was good. It was doughy and sweet. And I’m never one to turn my nose at any dessert. But it kind of just tasted like a thick and heavy dough coated in sticky sugar. I kind of tasted like nothing special.
Halfway through one I could feel the weight of it in my stomach. I powered through and finished an entire beignet. And then I took a couple of small bites of the second but couldn’t finish it. I was done.
I guess you don’t have to like everything you eat, everything iconic, everything recommended to you. And maybe I did just get a bad batch. Or maybe I should have eaten in. Or maybe I just really don’t like beignets. Or maybe I just had the idea of eating beignets in New Orleans so built up in my head that anything would have disappointed me.
And I thought, later, when I walked by at a slower time, of trying again. And I thought, later, of trying a different place, a place another friend said had better beignets. But, in the end, I left my experience alone.
I’ll try Café Du Monde beignets again, I’m sure. I’ll give them another shot and eat another one (or three) the next time I’m in New Orleans. Because there certainly will be a next time I’m in New Orleans. And because they probably deserve another shot. And because I probably deserve another dessert.
Eating Café Du Monde beignets in New Orleans:
“Eat beignets from Café Du Monde in New Orleans” was number 115 on my life list.
p.s. I kind of lied. I actually tried Café Du Monde beignets for the first first time a couple of nights earlier as they were part of the buffet at the party our conference threw. But I couldn’t tell if they were real real or made from the box real or what or if that should count or not. I didn’t like them that much then either.
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