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Feb 28, 201910:31 AM
Haute Plates

A weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Mardi Gras Time



It is Carnival in New Orleans and many of us are feeling very well, thank you for asking!

So far it’s been a hit or miss affair where the weather is concerned, but we’ve seen worse. We’ll put on the smiles we usually reserve for company and get through it.

I have a daughter who is 6 and ¾. She does not like parades because they’re too loud and crowded. I don’t know if things are entirely different these days, but I loved parades when I was a kid and now I’m ambivalent. I know that part of it is my age, but I think a good bit of it is that I no longer associate Mardi Gras with room temperature Popeye’s fried chicken.

My wife is something of a germaphobe. By “something of a germaphobe,” I mean that she custom orders hand sanitizer online and were it socially acceptable would probably wear a surgical mask at all times. She will politely decline to eat any food that she did not see prepared in most contexts.

I cannot imagine what she would do if she saw me gnawing on a chicken leg that was cooked at 6:30 in the morning yet I pulled out of a cooler at 3:30 on a typical New Orleans afternoon. I like to imagine her shocked face as she watches 10 year-old me tear into that chicken leg like a damn hyena.

I don’t know whether Popeye’s is the best fried chicken to take to parades these days. I’m not all that brand-loyal where fast food is concerned, but I am nostalgic from time to time. I remember eating Popeye’s pretty much all day during Carnival. 

I remember parties where the hosts cooked huge pots of red beans and rice for guests, as if opening your doors on a parade route wasn’t enough. I remember catered affairs with crab dip and toast points and I remember people who served gumbo in those paper bowls that were fancy enough to make the concept, “gumbo in a paper bowl” work.

If you surveyed 10,000 people nationwide, I bet I’d be on the skinny side of the “associates memories with food” scale, but I’d also bet that most New Orleanians would be with me.

I have two questions for you: 1) Do you have similarly visceral food memories with Mardi Gras? And 2) Can I use your bathroom if you’ve got a house on the parade route?

Awaiting your reply…



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Haute Plates

A weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene


Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.




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