One thing that can be somewhat frustrating is when (as a family that keeps kosher) a city has a food that it’s very well known for that you can’t eat because it’s not kosher or because you happen to be allergic to it, or even if you just don’t care for it. Some examples of foods that are very well-known and aren’t kosher, Maryland has the crab cake, Philadelphia has the Philly Cheesesteak, Kansas has its BBQ, Belgium has mussels, and the list goes on and on. Luckily for folks who keep kosher and come to New Orleans, Beignets are kosher thanks to our amazing Rabbi, Uri Topolosky.
When Uri first moved to New Orleans to become the Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, he went on a mission to make beignets kosher. There is a fabulous article printed in the Times Picayune about that adventure, but suffice it to say that just in time for Hanukkah in 2008, all six Cafe du Monde locations were certified kosher. This means that even people who keep kosher are able to enjoy a classic New Orleans treat when they come into town. We may not be able to have much of the seafood that Louisiana is known for but we can always have beignets.
So last night in the French Quarter, that’s what we did! My in-laws are visiting from out of town for this long weekend and they always like to have a beignet while they’re in town so we hit the Quarter last night with our friend Stephen and we all enjoyed some powdered sugared yummy-ness! For those of you who may not be familiar with beignets, they are essentially donuts (yes, deep fried in oil) that are covered in powdered sugar. On the side you can get a cafe au lait (decaf or regular, hot or cold, and you can even get it frozen), a hot chocolate or milk or chocolate milk.
Luckily if you don’t have plans to come to New Orleans anytime soon, you can buy beignet mix online and try to make them at home but I promise you they will just not turn out quite the same as if you try them in one of the restaurant locations.
The service at Cafe du Monde (the one in the French Quarter anyway–I don’t think it’s quite like this in the other locations) is kind of funny. The tables are first come first serve, and you kind of just grab a table as soon as you notice that one has cleared up, so you generally end up sitting down as another group is getting up from their seats. You then wait until one of the wait-staff notices that you just sat down and they’ll clear off your table for you. The menu is available on a sign on the wall, or it’s also printed on the side of the napkin holder.
So you order your beignets and your cafe au lait and it could take anywhere from 5-15 minutes to get your beignets, depending on how busy they are but when you do get them they’re almost always right out of the fryer which means they’re hot and the powdered sugar they put on top melts into the beignet a little, making it quite delicious. While we’re waiting for beignets, somehow we always end up taking photos.
Once you finish, you end up with a huge plate full of powdered sugar. So… if you have children with you (or somewhat immature grownup men), then you may end up with people picking up their plates of powdered sugar to play with them.
Then if you tell that person a joke while they have their plate of powdered sugar in front of them and they start laughing hysterically, then you end up with someone having powdered sugar all over their face and looking very silly, but then everyone’s in for a good laugh!