Patience is a virtue that I really need to work on… and quick (get it?).
But in all seriousness, under ordinary circumstances if I saw a line like the one above, wrapping around the building with customers waiting in (gasp!) the sun, I’d turn around and walk the other way without hesitation. Who’s got time for that?
However, this particular line wasn’t waiting for ordinary- it was waiting for extraordinary; the extraordinary beignets (essentially fried dough covered in sugar) and café au lait from Café du Monde, the original French market and coffee stand in New Orleans- a place that has recently become one of my favorite places in the world.
Now it’s time for another confession.
Moving from my lifelong home in North Texas to Gainesville, Florida for graduate school is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Leaving everything and everyone I’ve ever known to start over somewhere completely new was exciting, and terrifying, and something that never felt quite real to me.
But as I get closer to reaching the finish line, I wonder why I was ever so afraid. The relationships I temporarily left behind have of course been tested- distance does that- but in the end the important ones have only been fortified and made even richer than before. I guess distance has a way of doing that too.
And while I came into to this adventure with a closed mind towards fostering new relationships (“I already have friends, I don’t want new ones,” I said like a petulant child, only half joking, as my boyfriend Jordan deposited me at my foreign new home) the experiences I’ve had and the friendships I’ve made here are irreplaceable; friendships that I’m so happy I didn’t miss out on.
I also have the move from Texas to Florida to thank for introducing me to Café du Monde.
On the (18 hour) drive from Burleson to Gainesville, New Orleans is the perfect stopping point; Acme Oyster house, Steamboat Natchez, the World War II Museum, and of course Café du Monde… you can’t ask for much more from your travel stop.
The first time we went through New Orleans, I’m embarrassed to admit, I’d never even heard of a beignet. ”How?!” you ask. “You love to bake!!” To be honest, I have no idea, but I’m glad that Jordan suggested we stop and try it out that day. I fell in love.
This time when we stopped in New Orleans, it was all about Café du Monde… I won’t deny it, we might have gone twice in one day. And by might, I mean we did. It’s open 24-7, we’re not here very often… why not?
Against my better judgement, this time I decided to take a bit of Café du Monde home with me in the form of their boxed beignet mix. “Just add water and powdered sugar, and you have a little taste of heaven in your own kitchen!” I was skeptical to say the least.
Once I got home and settled in, I busted out the beignet mix and attempted what I assumed would be the impossible… recreating the perfect Café du Monde beignet.
I followed the (oh so difficult) directions to a tee. I mastered the art of mixing water and box mix. I fried the dough to perfection. I sprinkled them with extremely excessive amounts of powdered sugar.
Try as I might, the taste wasn’t as sweet, the texture too heavy- it just wasn’t the same.
My roommates will tell you they tasted great, and I’ll admit that paired with a bowl of cheesy grits they did make for a great breakfast, but nothing compares to the real deal.
So the moral of this story is; add Café du Monde to your bucket list, it’s a must. In the meantime, you can oder your own beignet mix and coffee here. It’s not perfect, but it’s enough to curb your beignet cravings or curiosity for the time being.
The second moral of this story is; don’t ever be afraid to try something new, no matter how crazy it may seem to you at the time. If not from me, then take it from Eleanor Roosevelt: