New Orleans, N.M.
My first husband and I drove through New Orleans in 1974, moving from Florida to the Land of Enchantment. We searched the French Quarter for lunch and stopped at a well-lit, noisy place. What I remember most was the shrimp étoufée—a spicy, tomatoey stew dished over a generous pile of rice. It was terrific, though I had no basis for comparison, being a novice in the world of Louisiana cooking. That was long before Katrina, Rita and BP heaped their misfortunes on the Gulf. Despite the challenges of rebuilding, the city maintains a robust attitude when it comes to living well—especially when it comes to food.
Noah’s Ark Café
Kingdom come hungry
A great flood didn’t carry Edward and Iolanda Johnson from New Orleans to Albuquerque in 2005, but Katrina had something to do with it. That journey would be a logical reason to call their restaurant Noah’s Ark Café, which serves a range of New Orleans specialties—but Edward says that’s not why they picked the name. Perhaps it’s a nod to the biblical boat’s function, stewarding the DNA of the animal kingdom to safe passage. But in the case of Noah’s namesake café, it’s the secrets of Cajun, Creole and New Orleans soul food that are guarded. Closely.