Thankfully, I’m not referring to a severe tropical cyclone unleashing raging reptiles, but rather to drink and food. I arrived in the “birthplace of jazz” with a few goals outside of relishing music: to find my favorite “hurricane” cocktail, and to eat alligator at least once a day.
Legend has it that in the 1940s, rum was abundant in New Orleans, but other distilled spirits were scarce. Bar owners had to buy 50 cases of rum in order to secure a single case of whiskey or scotch. Barmen at Pat O’Brien’s (patobriens.com) began unloading their abundant rum supply via a fruitfully potent drink served in a hurricane-lamp shaped glass. The “hurricane” was born.
After trying a couple on Bourbon Street, I headed into the original location to see Pat’s men. This delight took the prize, hands down, with its authentic non-manufactured taste. Suggestion: try hurricanes at other venues before indulging in Pat O’Brien’s ingeniously strong invention.
My alligator acquaintances began on Bourbon Street at LaBayou Restaurant (labayourestaurant.com). The appetizer dish of gator arrived: four miniscule nuggets of the reptile and a limp leaf of lettuce. Really? I still needed to get to know more gators.
The next day it was found: Gator Me Café on 819 Decatur Street. It was here that “Alligator on a Stick” revealed the intricacies in earnest. It wants to be chicken, but has a slight fish feel to it. It’s chewy, but tender, yet not falling apart. On balance, it’s different from anything I’ve ever eaten before.
So is it worth trying? Yes. And if you are going to do the gator, make sure to order it grilled. You can fry anything and it tastes like something, um, fried.