One recent morning, I went to Cafe Du Monde for a classic New Orleans breakfast of cafe au lait and beignets.
It was barely 7 a.m. when I arrived, and the outside tables had yet to be put out. I sat inside and watched the waitresses bring tray upon tray of warm beignets and steaming coffee to the other customers. I hadn't had a beignet since before I moved to New Orleans, and the heavily powdered fried dough dumplings were better than I remembered. Cakey, yet light, beautifully golden brown, and sweet. I was careful that each bite had ample powdered sugar.
I've mostly been drinking Cafe du Monde's chicory coffee since I moved here. Chicory is actually endive root, and I find that it adds another layer of flavor to coffee. I might also be partial to it because there was a Cafe du Monde mug in the cabinet of my childhood home, bought on a trip my parents took many years ago. It's in my home now.
After I polished off the last bite of sweet dough, I headed over to finish my coffee on a bench facing the Mississippi River, which looked quite beautiful at that hour in spite of the recent oil spill. Or maybe because of it. Many people tell me New Orleans is like a dirtier Charleston. I think that's part of its charm.