ERROL LABORDEStories About "It" Have you noticed that conversations have gotten a lot easier if you live in the New Orleans area? Even at holiday gatherings, the men were spared having to resort to football small talk, and the women could avoid marveling over how much the kids had grown because of IT. We were all united by IT, and we all have stories to tell. By now there are different categories of stories. First there are the evacuation tales. Everyone has one, and they’re all good, filled with drama, uncertainty and reliance on wits. I have yet to hear a bad evacuation story – all could be the basis of a movie. The problem is that there are so many of them that it is hard for any one story to get the attention, and sympathy, it deserves. Next come the numbers: Two feet, four feet total, no feet but wind damage and a smelly refrigerator. I have heard some people who didn’t experience any damage say they feel guilty. I tell them they shouldn’t feel that way. Their punishment is that they will have fewer stories to tell. At level three are the dealing-with-the-system tales. Here’s where we hear sagas about wrangling with FEMA, insurance companies and Entergy. The supply of these stories is, apparently, infinite, with new stories still being created as this is written, And finally there are the “I heard about this guy” stories in which we relate an extraordinary story we heard about someone else. Be forewarned, though. Whomever you tell your story to knows someone whose story tops yours. Restaurants are a good place to share such stories. Before IT, dining was probably the most popular conversation topic in New Orleans. The art of eating out is still an important part of local life, and despite some shifting and departures caused by IT, this is still a city of great chefs. We honor some of the city’s best in this issue. If you happen to meet any of them, just remember they too have stories to tell.