A culinary remembrance of New Orleans before Katrina|a report on its uncertain fate now

Page 4 of 4

"After Hurricane Katrina, so much of what we visited that week is gone or missing," he tells us, referring to the July field trip. "The important point I want to make is: This is no longer the big news story. When people ask me what they can do, I tell them, 'I don't need money, I don't need a place to stay. We need help remaining on the national agenda.'

"The only way most of us want to live in New Orleans is if it's a facsimile of what it once was," Elie says later, during a panel discussion. "'New' New Orleans will be less black and less poor. Where will all the red beans and rice joints go? Katrina has quickened a process that has already been taking place. Black youth see prestige in the restaurant industry now, and they want to be chefs in the higher-end restaurants, not in small joints. Who will replace the older people when they're gone?"

"Everything's in evolution," remarks John Besh, sitting on the same panel. "In Louisiana, we don't like that."

"Yet the original word for restaurant comes from 'restorative,'" reminds JoAnn Clevenger, owner of Upperline, a Big Easy institution. "Restaurants are about strangers breaking bread together. It's an innate thing, an inborn sweetness of New Orleans. We're a city of rich and poor, black and white, sinful and sacred. Spread the word: We can make you happy."

Clevenger's words stoke reveries of the memorable meals we'd shared together in July. Later, I put a question to Besh that's been gnawing at me.

"Who supplied you with the tiny tomatoes for the tarte at the field trip dinner?" I ask. "I can't forget that dish."

"Jim Core, my dear redneck farmer friend," Besh replies with a chuckle. "He supplied the peaches for dessert, too. He and his wife run a farm that's been in his family since the late 1800s. The hurricanes blew everything they had away. But he's replanting now. We've already got leafy greens, beats and turnips from his farm that we're serving."

I hope that means Besh will have a goodly supply of those tomatoes from Core by next summer. I still can't wait to get back to his restaurant.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Cover Story

Readers also liked…

More by Bill Addison

Search Events

  1. Goat Farm Economics 5

    Can art and good old-fashioned capitalism breathe new life into one of Atlanta’s most historic and overlooked neighborhoods?
  2. Solving downtown's homeless problem begins with taking the red pill 95

    Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter is the root of downtown's image problem
  3. Unanswered: CL's metro Atlanta officer-involved shooting database

Recent Comments

© 2016 Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation