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.