A Feast for the Soul

Claire Suh, Staff Writer

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I slammed the car door closed and slumped my way to the entrance of the restaurant that my parents chose for dinner that night. I glanced indifferently to the dingy neon sign above the door as I approached the building. After several disappointing meals of subpar tourist fare that crushed my lofty expectations for New Orleans cuisine, I was not expecting too much from this dive. A grizzled old man with a brown bag and a cap with loose change in it held the door open for me and I passed through into the restaurant with a shy thank you and a guilty glance at his nearly empty hat.

As soon as I stepped through the threshold, the drool inducing aroma of fresh seafood and spicy Cajun seasoning washed over me. ”

Startled by the sudden contrast of this grubby, yet charmingly authentic dive with the sterile and uniform restaurants in the French Quarter, I fell into a haze of excitement and squirmed impatiently in my seat as my dad went up to order our dinner. A few seconds later, 3 plastic bags filled with meaty crustaceans steamed to a blushing scarlet perfection and gleaming with buttery, tongue-burning Cajun broth was plopped in front of me. “A pound of crawfish, a pound of gulf shrimp, and a pound of snow crabs!” my father announced excitedly. I drooled in response. I rolled up my sleeves and slapped a napkin on my lap and proceeded to shovel all of the seafood into my mouth. The next half hour was a blur of cracked shells, sighs of happiness and burning tongues. The three bags were now filled with broken bits of shell and dirty napkins. I slid down in my seat, patting my overfilled belly with blissful contentment. My disillusioned view of Cajun food had been revived with one simple meal, now overflowing with appreciation and love. None of the fancy, overpriced meals in the entirety of the city could top the honest, expertly handled meals prepared with passion at this establishment. I exited the building, the same old man holding the door open for me. This time, I flashed him a genuine smile, and dropped a few bucks into his hat as I passed through.

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A Feast for the Soul