Introduction: I collect mugs. It's a fairly recent venture. I used to dislike mug collections immensely so I find it rather poignant that I've placed myself smack, dab in the middle of something I used to snub my nose at! Now, I rummage through shelves, gift shops, or out of the way artistic corners hunting for something that "speaks" to me or a momento of a special event or place. As I was washing my mugs one morning, it occured to me that each one has a special story. This post is one of those stories...
IT ALL STARTED WITH CAFE DU MONDE
I never thought I would collect mugs. Anytime someone gave me a mug, I kept it for a customary year (or less) in the back of my cabinet. Once spring cleaning came around, the first thing to hit the garage sale or Goodwill box were the mugs.
However, that all changed a few years ago with a visit to Café Du Monde in the city of New Orleans.
In 2014 & 2015, our family ventured to New Orleans, the port where we would leave on a week-long cruise to the Carribean. Both times we booked a hotel in the French Quarter and arrived a few days early to enjoy the city.
We fell in love immediately.
We are not “nightlife” folks, so we ventured out during the day to explore the quaint shops, galleries, admire the amazing architecture, visit the markets, and enjoy the Cajun food!
CHICORY COFFEE & BEIGNETS
Our first stop each time was Café Du Monde. It was a short, but lovely walk to the cafe.
When we arrived in the city the first time, we made it a point to visit Café Du Monde before anywhere else! It was quite chilly out in February and I was looking forward to a good cup of coffee and a warm beignet.
We sat down near the area where the servers grabbed the trays and fulfilled each table’s order. I saw that I could order a coffee with a collectible mug and thought, “What the heck, why not?”. Within moments, a hot, steaming cup of reddish-brown coffee sat in front of me.
Having never been to New Orleans, I had never even heard of chicory coffee. I’m a “drink-it-black-and-strong” person so the thick, dark, muddy-like drink in my hand didn’t alarm me one bit.
However, once I took a sip, well, let’s just say it wasn’t what I expected.
Unfortunately, that hot cup of coffee I was looking forward to became nothing more than a convenient hand warmer. I managed to gulp down a couple more sips, but this girl couldn’t handle the “real” coffee down south!
Luckily, the beignets were just as wonderful as everyone told us they were. The three of us, my husband, son and I, huddled together and devoured the warm doughnuts, coughing and laughing as we inhaled the copious amounts of powdered sugar covering the beignets.
I’ve heard it said that our strongest memories are tied to smells. Every time I look at my mug I remember the yellow tint of the lights that reflected off the dull walls, I can smell the coffee and the doughnuts, along with the muggy smell of the rain and the dirty streets.
I can see my son’s face covered with powdered sugar.
I can see the green and white awning outside the simple cafe.
In the morning, the line for the world-famous beignets would stretch around the building.
On our second trip, we weren’t in line more than a few seconds when an employee on break came up to us, asked us what we wanted and came back with a bag of beignets for us! As the outside patio of the cafe was full, we grabbed our sweet treasures and enjoyed a quiet spot overlooking the harbor. The scenery was beautiful and serene as we happily choked on the powdered sugar – again, laughing at the mess we made.
I’m fairly certain it is impossible to eat a Café Du Monde beignet without inhaling a mouth-full of powdered sugar!
As the sun would set in New Orleans, it was our cue to grab an early dinner and then head to our room for the night, knowing that the city life was just beginning. We would be up with the sun to get out and explore.
What tremendous memories and we are anxious to get back and enjoy more of New Orleans – oh, and some more beignets (sans chicory coffee!).