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Where Y’Eat: New Orleans Summer Has a Long Way to Go, Let's Make Memories That Linger Too

Ian McNulty
Watermelon, crabmeat and fresh herbs are a seasonal blast of Louisiana flavor.

I would like to address a false rumor circulating in the news. Multiple sources are claiming that summer is almost over. For evidence, they present back-to-school stories and ads full of men’s sweaters and ladies’ boots. They even track the countdown to Labor Day weekend, as if that settles it.

But in Louisiana we know better.

We are in the calendar’s cruelest phase. Fall is close, promising not just nice weather but all the great things we look forward to as the season shifts -- football, get-togethers, festivals, the prospect of changing our clothes several times a day only because we want to, and not because we have to.

And yet, we will be living with summer for quite some time here. But to bring this all to the plate, one way you can actually appreciate this time instead of just wishing it away, is to take the last plunge into our summer food.

We will have time for oysters soon enough. Right now, local waters are bringing us shrimp and crabs in all their abundant glory. It’s especially right for soft shell crabs, that exotic luxury elsewhere that is an anytime po-boy filling here.

Summer is time for the fastest homemade meal in the South, the tomato sandwich. All it takes is good tomatoes, cheap white bread, mayo, salt and pepper and a sense of humor about the juice you will spill on your shirt.

This is prime time for sno-balls. An entire landscape of little stands awaits, complete with evocative childhood taste memories. For newcomers, evocative middle aged taste memories of sno-balls are available too.

Some summer flavors are completely guiltless. Just picture whole watermelons stacked along a roadside vendor’s dented tailgate, all green like gators and nearly as big. Think about carving it up and eating that melon outside, standing up, spitting black seeds into shaggy late summer grass.

So let the outta-town countdowns continue. Here in New Orleans, even at the bottom of our hot summer, just thinking about the next bite is a good way to perk up.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.

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