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Food & Beverage: 

The King Cake is a traditional and iconic dessert associated with the annual Mardi Gras celebration in Louisiana, particularly in the city of New Orleans. Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, is a festive season that culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Christian season of Lent.

The King Cake is a symbolic dessert that is closely tied to the Mardi Gras celebration. It represents the Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night or Three Kings' Day, which commemorates the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus.

The traditional King Cake is usually a ring-shaped sweet bread or coffee cake, often adorned with colored sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold. These colors are said to represent justice, faith, and power, respectively.

A small, plastic baby figurine is often hidden inside the cake before baking. The person who finds the baby in their slice is considered to have good luck and is sometimes expected to host the next Mardi Gras gathering or bring the King Cake to the next celebration.

Originally, the plastic baby was made of ceramic, but unwary consumers were known to chip or break a tooth, or worse, swallow the baby. Due to liability concerns, many bakeries will either place the baby underneath the cake or just in the box with the cake, in order to avoid accidents. And lawsuits.

The cake itself can vary in flavor and texture. It is often a sweet dough, similar to that used in cinnamon rolls, and may be filled with a variety of ingredients such as cinnamon, cream cheese, fruit fillings, or nuts.

Over the years, bakers have created various versions of the King Cake, including twists on flavors and fillings. Some may include chocolate, praline, or other regional variations. Bakeries frequently produce them around other holidays, decorated accordingly, such as a red and green sugar topping for Christmas.

The King Cake is meant to be cut into slices for serving, rather than being pulled apart as one might do with a pan of cinnamon rolls or monkey bread.

King Cakes are typically enjoyed throughout the Mardi Gras season, which begins on January 6th (Twelfth Night) and concludes on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. However, they are most commonly associated with the period between Twelfth Night and the official start of Carnival season.

Sharing a King Cake is a significant part of Mardi Gras traditions in New Orleans. Many locals and visitors alike enjoy the sense of community and celebration that comes with sharing this festive dessert.

While traditionally associated with Mardi Gras, King Cakes are often available in bakeries and grocery stores throughout the Carnival season, and their popularity has spread to other regions beyond Louisiana.

The New Orleans Mardi Gras King Cake is not just a delicious treat; it's a symbol of the vibrant and lively culture that defines the Mardi Gras celebration in Louisiana.

Food & Beverage: 

What's in a name? The poor boy sandwich, also known simply as a po' boy or po-boy, has its origins in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. The sandwich has a rich history that dates back to the 1920s.

The term "poor boy" is said to have originated during a streetcar strike in 1929. Two brothers, Benny and Clovis Martin, who were former streetcar conductors, opened a sandwich shop in the French Market. To show support for the striking streetcar workers, they offered free sandwiches to the unemployed men. Legend has it that when one of the brothers saw a hungry striker coming, he would say, "Here comes another poor boy," and the name stuck. It ultimately caught on and became a staple of New Orleans casual dining fare.

By some accounts, Benny and Clovis Martin had already been selling such sandwiches for years prior, but the streetcar strike story appears stuck in the collective local consciousness.

In the years that followed, the local vernacular being what it is, the name morphed to a lazily-spoken "po' boy". Some restaurateurs even printed it (and still do) on menus and signage as "Po-Boy". The originally-coined name is barely seen in print, let alone spoken. While you may hear the long, French loaf used referred to as poor boy bread, a sandwich made with it is rarely called that.

In fact, it would almost seem the number of people insisting on the original "poor boy" being the sandwich's one, true name is confined to a single local food writer. Call it anything else within earshot of same at your peril.

The true po' boy sandwich is made with French bread, which is light and airy with a crispy crust. It is usually filled with a variety of ingredients, such as roast beef, fried seafood (shrimp, oysters, or catfish), ham and cheese, or sausage.

Ham po' boys can be served cold or grilled hot, and the best shops offer it both ways.

Sausage usually means one of three: smoked, Italian or hot. Hot sausage can be had in either link or patty form; better shops offer both.

Almost anything can be made into a po' boy, hamburger patties, chicken fried steak and Italian meatballs come to mind, the latter served with a copious amount of red gravy (local-speak for marinara) and topped with Provolone cheese.

Sometimes seen offered is a budget version made with french fries and roast beef gravy.

One popular variation of the po' boy is the "debris" sandwich, which features shredded roast beef and the flavorful drippings from the cooking process. Another well-known version is the "peacemaker," a po' boy with both fried oysters and shrimp.

Most po' boy shops will have a "special" with a unique name on the menu, however, it is most often observed to be just a combination of ham, roast beef and Swiss cheese, perhaps with the addition of some Creole mustard.

The roast beef po' boy is the standard by which all are judged. The meat must be slow-cooked to fall-apart tender, the gravy rich and garlicky. The sloppier, the better. The best are rated by how many napkins are needed to completely finish the sandwich.

The standard po' boy is twelve inches long. Some shops have reduced that length over time, but anything less than nine or ten inches offered as a full-size po' boy is frowned upon.

For the lighter appetite, half po' boys are also typically offered, and better shops make them an inch or more longer than half of a full-size.

Not often seen these days is the "whole loaf" po' boy, made on an entire, almost three-foot long loaf. Koz's in Harahan still does them, as did its predecessor Po-boy Bakery.

Some shops offer their po' boys on a version of the bread encrusted with sesame seeds. Those that do will usually offer the traditional, un-seeded bread on request.

Pro-tip: When ordering a po' boy, you will typically be asked if you want it "dressed". That simply means do you want shredded lettuce, sliced tomato and sometimes dill pickle chips added. Some would also consider mayonnaise as part of "dressed". Although most shops don't charge extra for it, some do, usually to the tune of an extra 50 cents.

Trivia: Mother's, on Poydras Avenue in the Central Business District, uses shredded cabbage instead of lettuce to dress its po' boys.

Food & Beverage: 

Consider the muffuletta, another iconic New Orleans sandwich. And, like the poor boy/po-boy/po' boy, another local controversy as to both its origin and pronunciation.

Said to have been created in 1906 by Salvator Lupo, owner of Central Grocery (still in operation today) , versions of the large, round loaf had been known in Sicily for centuries. The bread, not the sandwich.

The sandwich constructed on the round sesame seed-encrusted loaf is composed of layers of thinly-sliced salami, ham, mortadella, and provolone cheese which are then topped with an olive salad consisting of green olives and finely chopped giardiniera seasoned with oregano and garlic, all drizzled in extra virgin olive oil.

Whether it's next baked toasty hot or left room temp to serve is a matter of preference. Some believe the sandwich must always first be pressed for a period of time under a weight in either case.

When it comes to purchasing, you can pretty much count on being able to buy a half sandwich as well as a whole anywhere you go.

Some writers bristle at the notion of the hollowing out of a portion of the crumb of the bread before constructing the sandwich. Some sellers do it; some don't. But it makes sense to do so. The bread isn't really the star here, and it can make the difference between being able to consume a quarter, a half, or in some cases, a whole sandwich in a sitting.

Really, if you think about it, the etymology of the word muffuletta is from the Italian muffoletta  or "little muff", a diminution of muffola  or "muff", and which suggests a pocket.

As to pronunciation, you hear it basically two ways: "muffa-LET-a" or "muffa-LOTTA". The purist in town, however, might argue "MOO-fa-LET-a" is correct. It is never, however, shortened to just "muff".

Entertainment: Food & Beverage: 

12.03.08 World-famous Pat O'Brien's Bar in New Orleans' French Quarter opened its doors (legally) for the first time 75 years ago this week.

Pat O'Brien's is a well-known bar located in New Orleans, Louisiana, that has been a popular destination for locals and tourists alike since it first opened its doors in 1933. The bar is located in the heart of the French Quarter and is famous for its unique atmosphere, friendly staff, and signature cocktails.

One of the most famous drinks served at Pat O'Brien's is the Hurricane, which is made with rum, passion fruit syrup, and lime juice. This cocktail has become a staple of New Orleans culture and is often associated with Mardi Gras celebrations.

In addition to the Hurricane, Pat O'Brien's also serves a variety of other cocktails, beers, and wines. The bar features multiple rooms, including a main bar area, a courtyard, and a piano lounge, where patrons can relax and enjoy their drinks.

Pat O'Brien's has also become a popular destination for live music, with musicians performing nightly in the piano lounge. The bar has hosted many famous musicians over the years, including Louis Armstrong, Harry Connick Jr., and Jimmy Buffett.

Pat O'Brien's is an iconic bar in New Orleans that offers a unique and memorable experience for anyone who visits. Whether you're a local looking for a fun night out or a tourist exploring the city, Pat O'Brien's is definitely worth a visit.

Pat O'Brien's: [Bar/Nightclub], 718 St Peter, New Orleans (French Quarter) map - 525-4823