It’s unfashionable for me to be underwhelmed by the Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans.
People discuss it as if it embodies some unseen quality and conjoining of history and cuisine. The cafe’s proximity to so many of the sights of New Orleans is certainly an advantage. If you get take out, you can walk a short distance and sit by the Mississippi to eat your beignet and drink one of the coffees the cafe offers.
Despite what visitors say after the fact, I observed many people as they approached, entered, sat, and walked away. The open air quality of the cafe is appealing to some and unappealing to others, especially as they are confronted with crowded and small tables, sticky surfaces, or birds flying inside the canopy where they are dining. Because the cult of the ‘must do’ demands it, most people leave with a notable lack of the ‘wow factor.’ Like a movie that people rave about, the cafe owes much of its appeal due to the cult of tourism more than its actual experience. That’s my opinion, anyway.
Beignets came from France, of course, which means that Cafe Du Monde didn’t invent the wheel, so to speak. I enjoy listening to people enthusiastically argue about the originality of Cafe Du Monde’s namesake food. Even when the Acadians brought them to Louisianna, they were likely to be filled with fruit. Today’s version is simply a rectangle of fried dough in a cloud of powdered sugar. If I point this out to people, it makes them a little irritated, as if recognizing the deviation somehow is an attack on their opinion.
If you’re visiting New Orleans, Cafe Du Monde is invariably on the ‘must do’ list for visitors. Unfortunately, many people are caught off guard by the massive lines, crowded tables, and sometimes long table service waits.
It’s important to note that the cafe doesn’t offer other breakfast foods. Many of the New Orleans partiers visit and find themselves eating large portions of dough and powdered sugar, which leads to the expected result.
As for me, the best part was feeding the birds which fly under the streetside canopy and hunt for morsels. It’s dumb on my part to have enjoyed feeding the birds.
Don’t get me wrong, the beignets are worth trying once. I personally can’t say that the taste of a Cafe Du Monde beignet was noticeable compared to the ones served a little distance away at the Cafe Beignet on the outside of the forgotten Jackson Brewery building. Saying this out loud amounts to heresy, so if you find yourself in agreement with me, it’s best to keep your opinion quiet.
A visit to Cafe Du Monde brings you to the edge of the river, too, so you’re at least in a central location to start your day.