Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Taking a Cup of Café Noir -- French Market -- August 19, 2014

One of our favorite things in recent visit to New Orleans was to go to the Café du Monde in the French Market for beignets and café au lait.  Here we see a vignette from The Picayune's Guide to New Orleans (1903) of men having café noir at the French Market. They could be at the Café du Monde, which opened in 1862, or its great rival, the Morning Call, which opened in 1870 at the French Market and left it in 1974 to go to Metairie. 
French Market.

You know it by the busy rush, the noisy rumbling of carts and wheels, the ceaseless clatter of foreign and native tongues combined, the outlandish garbs, the curious faces, the strange cosmopolitan scene to be nowhere else witnessed on American soil. The market is open daily from 5 a. m. to 12 m. The "meat market" was erected in 1813 at a cost of $30,000, and stands on the exact spot where the first market was built in New Orleans, according to the plan of Le Blond de La Tour, in 1723, and which was destroyed by a hurricane in that same year. The best time to visit it is in the early morning, and Sunday morning of all others. It is the most remarkable and characteristic spot in New Orleans. Under its roof every language is spoken, and this will be noted through its four divisions, the fish, the meat, the vegetable and the fruit market. The buyers and sellers are men and women of all races. Here are the famous coffee stands, where one gets such delicious "café noir" or "café au lait," with a "brioche" or "cala," as the taste may suggest. There are the Gascon butchers, and the Italian and Spanish fruit vendors, and the German and Italian vegetable women: there are Moors, with their strings of beads and crosses. fresh from the Holy Land; peddlers and tinners and small notion dealers; the "rabais men," with their little stores on wheels; Chinese and Hindu, Jew and Teuton, French and Creole, Spanish and Malay, Irish and English, all uniting in a ceaseless babel of tongues that is simply bewildering. The old Creole negresses are there, with quaint bandana and tignon, offering for sale "pralines" and "pain patates" and "calas," the latter a species of soft doughnut made of rice and flour.

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