Lovely Tableau, Snatching Sugar Cane in the ’30s, And The Embodiment Of That Dream

When Dickie Brennan renovated this space (with Le Petite Theatre aside) at 616 St. Peter, Tableau was born.  For whatever reason, I didn’t take better pics of the interior, but it’s an easy kind of non-stuffy, fresh lovely.
Tableau, New Orleans

I’m a simple girl, really.  Imprint, shape, or top your butter with a simple vellum, and I adore that extra touch.
Tableau, New Orleans

And here we have eggs hussarde (‘poached eggs and grilled beef medallions set atop a grilled tomato, drizzled with a red wine hollandaise and garnished with Masa-fried Gulf oysters’):
Tableau, New Orleans
Did they only give me one oyster?  Well, you know what?  I was so happy with this dish, I didn’t care, because the entire thing was just delicious.

For dessert, Tart a la bouille (‘a rustic Cajun sweet dough baked with a vanilla custard, with Old New Orleans Spiced Rum caramel sauce’):
Tableau, New Orleans
First, this too was excellent with the exception being that the the caramel sauce was burnt — and if you’ve ever made a sauce like this, you know that even if it’s only 1% burned, you can taste that through the whole dish.  You just have to throw the entire amount out.

The dessert had a little piece of sugar cane as garnish; there isn’t a particularly dainty way to enjoy sugar cane in the middle of a restaurant.  I discreetly asked the waiter if anyone ever really does anything with it, and he said that usually not, but when people do, you really know it. ha!

My PawPaw z”l told a story of when he was growing up, he and other boys would chase a sugar cane truck through their town, trying to get a stalk to enjoy.  This had to be the early 1930s, during the Great Depression.  I love the idea of my grandfather being ten or twelve, running full-steam, laughing, being deliciously mischievous with a pack of friends.  I imagine the boys, exhausted, sitting under a tree, slicing through the outer section with pocket knives, pulling the fiber and chewing to release all the sweetness.  It’s exactly what I thought of when I saw the sugar cane on my plate.

Sugar CaneSince I mentioned it, in middle school, we were given assignments to interview someone on the topic of the Great Depression.  I figured my grandparents were too young to remember much, so I asked my great-grandmother, MawMaw Fossett z”l, what she remembered.  Can you guess?  Well, this particular great-grandmother wasn’t someone who was particularly soft and gentle.  She told me terribly bluntly, so bluntly I remember thinking I wanted to cry: we had nothing worth losing in the first place, it didn’t affect us, and we made it through anyway.  And then she uneasily laughed, like I just had no idea what they had survived.  And I didn’t have any idea.  So I had to make a report from *that* interview.  Hmmm.  Not easy.

One thing that was easy, though, was one of the projects all the parents of first-graders at our school had to do for end-of-year: make an insert that would be mounted inside a book the children had made (one of those things they’ll keep forever).  You could do whatever you wanted — color, paint, just write a note, etc.  I had some dreams about going all Robert Sabuda and do a kind of paper pop-up, but instead we made a collage of pictures of Shug’s ancestors, with this as the text underneath:

From the Jewish Ghetto of Venice to the shtetls of Russia, Romania, Hungary, Austria, and Poland, 
from the vast fields of Ireland, Scotland, England, and France 
to the coast of Virginia and the ports of Mobile and New Orleans, 
from the cotton fields to the Magic City, 
your people came here looking for a beautiful, free life. 
You are the embodiment of that dream. 
Through the generations, we all love you.

Leave a Reply