I’d like to give a shout out to the New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival which is this Sunday in Uptown New Orleans. New Orleans has a ton of festivals throughout the year, but I think this one is really cool because in addition to celebrating one of our most beloved culinary traditions, the poor boy (accurate spelling) sandwich, it also sets out to promote and preserve a way of life.
You see, the Carrollton area that plays host to this event represents a big part of New Orleans culture. In this Uptown New Orleans neighborhood, residents harmoniously co-exist with restaurants, businesses and bars. Think live music at the Maple Leaf Bar, a great meal at Jacques-Imo’s or a refreshing beer at Cooter Brown’s. It’s all within walking distance for the people that live in this corner of the city and just a quick street car ride for those who don’t.
The Gentilly area where I grew up was a lot like Carrollton. We had corner grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, dry cleaners, a bar, and po-boy shops all within a short walk from my house and all owned by people we knew. I took it all for granted, as most people do, until Hurricane Katrina washed it all away. Some businesses have returned, but it’s just not the same.
That’s why now I strongly believe an event like the New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival is so important. In my heart, I don’t think the poor boy is destined for extinction, even amid the growing number of national sandwich chains invading the city. What I am worried about is losing the poor boy experience. I’m a forty-something native New Orleanian and I’ve lived long enough to realize that poor boys, people and places matter. They’re important to me just like your hometown, regional food, family and friends are (or at least should be) important to you. If we don’t talk it up and eat it up, it’ll all eventually disappear.
So if you happen to be in New Orleans this weekend, why don’t you stop by the festival? With three stages and over 30 vendors, you won’t find a better collection of music, food, beer and friends you never knew you had. Catch a performance by the soon-to-be-retired Radiators, do some holiday shopping at the Artists’ Village, listen in on historical panel discussions or … just eat your way down Oak Street. For more details, visit www.poboyfest.com.
If you miss the festival this weekend but are in New Orleans in the future and looking for a great poor boy, I hope you’ll make time to check out a few of my favorite spots:
I’m not going to apologize for getting all sappy on you. But, I believe we must all do our part to preserve what’s near and dear to our hearts and our bellies. I encourage you all to keep eating and keep talking about the foods you love and why! Isn’t that what life’s all about?