Life as MommyMo

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dining ala NOLA

See that lovely photo? That's pretty much what I saw when I entered a famed New Orleans eating establishment last night for dinner. I'm pretty sure I'm scarred for life.

I was in New Orleans for work this week. Since my friend and coworker Jeff hails from the city, he was nice enough to make sure I got the full experience while there. No touristy restaurants for us. Nope, we planned to eat REAL NOLA food this week.

First stop? Some place right outside of downtown that was supposed to be famous for barbecued shrimp. Sounded yummy to me. I love shrimp and, being from Kansas City, I was sure I knew what the word barbecued meant.

Not so much. As it turns out, New Orleanians somehow think sticking shrimp in a pan, covering it with STICKS of butter and tons of garlic and then roasting it in the oven somehow qualifies as barbecue. Far be it for me to judge, though, so I adjusted my expectations and waited for the dish to be served. I was a bit surprised that our waiter tied a paper bib around my neck before the shrimp arrived. I eat shrimp pretty regularly and have never felt the need for that level of wardrobe protection.

I quickly figured out the reason for the bib when two bowls of fully intact shrimp came to the table. Now, I've seen shrimp with the legs and shells still on. I know all about peel-and-eat shrimp and always manage to avoid eating it. The closest I come to needing to remove my meal from it's original habitat is cracking an egg for breakfast.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the bowl contained shrimp with not just legs and shells, but also heads and eyeballs. And whiskers that were so long they draped over the side of the bowl. I stared at my dish and quickly decided I had enough extra meat on my body to make it till morning without eating.

Jeff, gentleman that he is, rolled up his sleeves and took care of the peeling for both of us. It was nice. He would do all the yucky stuff (laughing at my prissiness the whole time) and deposit completely peeled shrimp on my plate. I noticed a dark line down the back of my shrimp and was afraid that it might be shrimp poo, so I took care of removing that. Jeff found it hysterical that I would assume shrimp came with poop on their backs, but it turns out I was RIGHT. Ew. Word to the wise: deveining shrimp is a fancy way of saying you're taking off the shrimp's intestines that still are filled with fishy fecal matter.

So... after this little experience, I was all too happy to eat hotel food for the next 36 hours or so. Well, last night, my boss was with Jeff and I and decides that we should go out in search of good jambalaya. Jeff proceeds to pile us into his car and take us deep into the French Quarter to a local spot that was supposed to have the best jambalaya in the city.

We checked out the menu, then stepped inside to eat. I was the first one through the door and exclaimed, "Look at the cute little dog" as we walked in. It was rather dim in the restaurant, and I thought that I was looking at a small terrier dog. I realized a second later that it was actually a kitten that lived there.

Weird, I thought. I also wondered aloud (as did Marty and Jeff) how a restaurant manages to pass health inspection when a feline takes up residence in the front window. Well... that should have been the least of my concerns.

I thought this cat was a dog because it appeared to have whiskers that were all fluffy on it's face. Jeff looked more closely and realized the whiskers were actually the front and back end of a mouse sticking out of the cat's mouth.


I am pretty sure I became nothing but a blur as I exited the restaurant as fast as my legs could carry me. Now, the whole place was about as big as my living room. It did not go unnoticed that I was not happy to have encountered a rodent on my way into dinner. Jeff grabbed me and drug me back in, saying "it's fine.. .they ran off." Well, by the time I got back inside (and I'm still not sure why I agreed to go back in in the first place) the cat and mouse were back, and the cat dropped the mouse at my feet. I completely freaked and went outside again.

As chivalrous as Jeff's shrimp cleaning gesture was, he and Marty decided this mouse was no big deal, and stayed inside. Seeing as I don't know this city well, I pretty much had to suck it up and go back inside. I sat there like a grumpy little girl, refusing to open my menu and keeping my feet propped up under the table lest the little critters decide to play near me again. I did end up eating the best shrimp creole I've ever had, but I am sure I will never forget that experience.

I'm pretty sure Jeff and Marty realize in retrospect that I will also never let them forget that they made me stay.

And, to mark the occasion, I'll also note here that today is four weeks since we were matched with Max. One month down, two or more to go. I had a feeling the first month would pass quickly and it actually has. I think it will only get harder from here.

Max's new crib bedding arrived today and it's cuter than the picture on the Pottery Barn Kids website would have you know. I am even more pleased now than I was last week when I found an amazingly cheap deal on Ebay to buy it!


Stingray said...

1. I must confess that I did know it was poop, but if I would have admitted that, I was worried that you would never eat in New Orleans again. So, I played dumb. However, I subscribe to the thought that the "poop line" is nothing more than mud.

2. This was one of the best blog posts and it should be nominated for a bloggie.

3. I just made up the Academy Awards for Blogs (Bloggies). I think it could take off.