New Orleans Eats: Cafe du Monde

When visiting New Orleans, you can’t miss Cafe du Monde.  Even if, like me, you failed to do your New Orleans food research before leaving, at some point you are bound to be wandering around Jackson Square and wonder what on earth that giant line is across Decatur Street, stretching far past the reaches of the green and white striped awning.  That, my friends, is Cafe du Monde.

Fortunately for me, I visited during a slow time.  Not only did I avoid standing in line, I managed to score a cafe table–and could have scored free food too, as the waiter forgot to take our money when he brought the order to the table (though I, being an honest person, left cash in what I assumed was an appropriate amount.  I’m sure the person sitting next to us scooped it up, but hey–I tried!)

Our order was the same as everyone else’s order–cafe au lait and beignets.  Because that’s really all Cafe du Monde serves, and it is that which causes people to line up–the famous chicory coffee served with milk and the even-more-famous deep fried, sugar-dusted dough that is the beignet.

I’m not going to lie–I was pretty excited about my uber-touristy plate of beignets.  I’d never actually had one before, so I was imagining all kinds of amazing things.  After all, people line up around the corner for these things.  I was given a ‘how to eat a beignet’ primer by my local friend and acting tour guide (exhale before picking them up, or you’ll spray powdered sugar everywhere) and then dug in.  After one bite I actually laughed–mouth still full of dough and sugar–and exclaimed it’s funnel cake!

I have since learned that beignets are not, in fact, the same as funnel cake.  And they aren’t doughnuts or fausnaughts, either.  Though I never would argue that, because they are far better than fausnaughts (which, for those of you not living in Pennsylvania Dutch country, are a sort of gross dense, bland doughnut that is eaten on the Tuesday before Lent.  New Orleans has Mardi Gras, we have crummy doughnuts.  Bummer for us.)  But I was so convinced that they were exactly the same as funnel cake–just in ball form–I actually had to do research to support my (now disproved) claim.  Beignets have a yeast-based batter and funnel cake is more akin to fried pancake batter.  But really–they taste the same to me.  Fried dough covered in powdered sugar.  And do you know what?  Funnel cake is almost better.  Sorry Cafe du Monde.  I did love your chicory coffee.


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