Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I'm a soul food man!

On our second night in the Big Easy we wanted to avoid the tourist infested areas. Ray, owner of the lovely La Dauphine bed and breakfast, suggested we stick to the Faubourg Marigny, which is located at the extremity of the French Quarter. This is where the locals go to escape from the hordes of tourists. Frenchmen Street is lined with small jazz clubs and interesting restaurants. One of them is The Praline Connection.

When I visit a new city, I want to discover the local culinary delights. I never understand people who visit foreign countries and end up eating at McDonald’s. So what should our International Mod of Mystery be looking for? Well, it goes without saying. It’s soul food of course!

Soul food is said to have originated from the slave trading days. Black slaves would receive food scraps from their masters and have to come up with inventive ways to use the ingredients at hand. Today, it’s a rich blend of flavors and spices. Be warned, your cholesterol count might jump a few notches. A lot of the food is fried. To describe it in nutshell, think “comfort food”.

For my first experience in the world of soul food, I went with a classic dish: fried chicken with a side of greens and macaroni and cheese. A main course would not be one without some cornbread, a staple on any soul food menu. My girlfriend opted for the fried stuffed crab. The Praline Connection seems to have mastered the secrets of a good plate. The chicken was to die for, juicy and tender on the inside, crispy and flavorful on the outside. The cornbread was so moist and tasteful that my mouth waters just thinking about it.

The staff was friendly and cordial. They also looked really cool with their black fedoras and white shirts and ties. I just wish I had enough of an appetite to taste the desert. It looked delicious!

To work off those extra calories, we couldn’t simply retreat to our B&B room for the night. We had to check out one of those lively jazz clubs in the area. We had heard that the Spotted Cat was the place to be. Its reputation amongst the locals is legend. You won’t hear well-known acts in this tiny place but this doesn’t seem to affect the quality of the music.

The first band we heard was The Loose Marbles. They played a mix of swing and ragtime. Not necessarily a Mod favorite but they were still entertaining. A few fans were tearing down the dance floor with their charleston and swing dance moves.

Pat Casey and The New Sound followed and brought down the house. You want modern jazz? Then you will be well served. They weren’t only talented but they also had the attitude. The saxophone player rested against the wall between solos and looked like he owned the place. The drum player is well worth a mention. He simply banged on those skins like there was no tomorrow.

The perfect end to a perfect evening.