by Pableaux Johnson

No matter what happens, even the hell of high water, New Orleanians will gather as soon as possible around the table. These are our ways of surviving the communal tribulations: Sunday family dinners at Mandina's; Monday night's red beans simmering on the home stove; Holy Thursday green gumbo at Dooky Chase; and a good, solid po'boy sandwich or a dozen raw oysters just about anywhere in town. More than one person at the table in New Orleans is a congregation, with services held at late-night bars and neighborhood joints, always including the swapping of stories with friends—and often with strangers, too. The city is as blessed with natural good cooks and chefs as any other, but we do what we do without much of the ranking mentality you'll find elsewhere. We'll just send you to our special places to sample the food, drink, and common spirit that makes New Orleans the only possible home for us, the only place like it in America. Pull up a chair. You're welcome any time.