Beignets and Cafe au Lait in the wee hours of the morning. Cafe du Monde has been open 24 hours a day serving up beignets and coffee since the 1860’s. My visits to the French Quarter in New Orleans were frequent in the late seventies and they were always capped off by a plate of beignets with a steaming cup of Cafe au Lait.
A beignet (ben YAY) is a French fritter, similar to a yeast doughnut, that’s deep-fried until crisp, puffy and golden. It’s typically served hot with a generous dusting of powdered sugar. Puffy doughnut pillows under a blanket of powdered sugar, warm beignets are a sweet invitation to Southern Louisiana.
Chicory makes the distinctive difference in French Market coffee and I’ve been craving a cup. I think my college days were responsible for cultivating my unique taste in coffee. I like it strong and a bit spicy. Today, coffee with chicory is common throughout Europe. It is stronger, darker and is a less bitter brew. The people of New Orleans imported French chicory into their town and combined it with their own dark roasted beans.
For some reason I’ve been craving beignets and chicory coffee. Maybe it is a sign that I’m aging and wanting to re-visit my youth. Have any of you ever enjoyed a heaping plate of beignets at Cafe du Monde on a sultry New Orleans night?