NEWS BULLETIN.......THE FAMOUS CAFE DU MONDE IN THE FRENCH QUARTER OF NEW ORLEANS WAS DESTROYED BY A HURRICANE!!!
If you don't believe me, read about it here...
Actually, it wasn't the Cafe du Monde that was destroyed by a hurricane (one that took place over a century before Katrina hit New Orleans, Biloxi, and other areas of The Gulf Coast) but the original French Marketplace that had been built by (Get this!) the Spanish back in 1771.
The architecture of the historic part of New Orleans reflects how Louisiana had, at different times, been governed by settlers from France, Spain, and England.
However, even before Europeans had begun settling in the area, this area along the Mississippi River had been seen as an ideal marketplace by the Choctaw Indians.
In 1813--a year after the hurricane--the building that would, eventually, house Cafe du Monde was erected and, for many years, was known as The Butcher's Hall.
Cafe du Monde came into existence in 1862, and it has been owned and operated by the Fernandez family since 1942.
My folks spent their honeymoon in New Orleans during the Mardi Gras of 1947. Although they didn't stay in New Orleans during their Golden Anniversary trip in 1997 (choosing, instead, to stay in Biloxi and drive over there the day of the parade), they were able to come to the conclusion that the Mardi Gras had changed considerably since the first time they experienced it--and not for the better!
This wasn't a time when they went to Cafe du Monde while in The Crescent City.
They were simply glad to make it back to Biloxi where Mardi Gras was being celebrated in more the way that they had remembered it being back in 1947. They said that, if they ever returned to the South during Mardi Gras time, they would be attending the parade in Biloxi and not even bothering to drive over to New Orleans.
This isn't to say that they would never return to New Orleans--just not during Mardi Gras time.
As it turned out, it would be their last big road-trip together--although they did still take road-trips closer to home--as my dad would get a viral infection of the brain a couple of months later, which made his Parkinson's get worse and too unpredictable for such extended trips.
He passed away peacefully in his sleep (with a smile on his face) during the early morning hours of February 2, 2004. My folks were just days away from celebrating their 57th Anniversary, and my mom buried a final anniversary card with him.
The days of three French breakfasts at Cafe du Monde are a thing of the past to be remembered fondly--but my first experience of going there is one that I don't remember that well.
I was about six or seven months old and was wearing a loose diaper. It turned out that the baby in the loose diaper had loose bowels that day--and, while my folks were standing there waiting for a table to become available, I made my mark there by pooping on the floor!
After that, my visits there were a little more dignified--with the most UNdignified thing I might do being ordering seconds on their wonderful breakfast (a.k.a. pigging out).
Let me tell you about breakfast at Cafe du Monde. It's three of their warm, wonderful, light-n-fluffy beignets served with a choice of beverage. We chose the milk over the coffee, as my folks had tried the coffee there before and didn't find it to their tastes--and their description of it didn't sound that good to me, either.
Since then, I've had chicory coffee and love it. However, with beignets, I think that the very best beverage is a nice, cold glass of white milk.
Usually, it has been the three of us going there together. However, my dad and I stopped in for breakfast on our way to a poetry convention in Jacksonville, Florida back in 1991.
Breakfast, btw, is served anytime.
The information given at the website describes it best:
"The Cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If closes only on Christmas Day and on the day an occasional Hurricane passes too close to New Orleans."
It was among the first places to reopen after that most unwelcome invasion by Katrina.
Sadly, some of its employees are still unaccounted for, and there's a place on the website for sending e-mail if you're an employee or know an employee's whereabouts.
If you would like to enjoy some Cafe du Monde fare at a safe distance from Gulf Coast hurricanes--as in up here with the Hoosier tornadoes instead--don't expect to find a location as you would a Starbucks location, as the Fernandez family wants to keep things closer to home (though they did sell franchise rights to some people in Japan).
However, if you have the means to prepare these goodies at home, you can buy them--along with other New Orleans fare--through their website, which also offers non-edible gifts.