Want to know what makes New Orleans such a great food town? Look down at your plate, then look in the mirror.
New Orleans food is a tale told with the garlic and cayenne of a seafood boil, the crunch and crumb of po-boy loaves, the gush of fat oysters and the burnished hue of a dark roux. But it goes beyond flavors.
It's time to recognize the key ingredient that is never up for awards or included on all those round-ups, run-downs and best-of lists.
It is New Orleans people, and it is our connection, devotion, even protectiveness of a lifestyle that revolves around food.
New Orleanians are not just an audience or a customer base. We have a relationship. We are active participants, analysts, historians and ambassadors for a richer idea of a shared food culture.
That's the difference. Remove it from the equation and we'd be left with another tourist town with too many restaurants and a parade of food trends.
It's our way of thinking about food and the importance we give it in our lives.
It shows in how we relate to each other and weave family stories around our food and restaurants. It's part of our civic pride and it's a way to celebrate our own blessings and respond to the losses life inevitably hands us.
There is no single narrative, but instead a story of subcultures and niches, moments in time and long memories, old traditions and new additions.
This is the time of year for gratitude and reflection, and when I think back on the great food, unforgettable stories and generous, big-hearted New Orleans people that have been part of my own 2019, I’m thankful for a food culture that is different, vibrant and ours.
What makes our city such a great food town? Take a bow, you people of New Orleans, it's you.