Utne Blogs > Literature

Hunger on a Hot Night

beignets at cafe du mondeWhether you like it or not, midsummer calls attention to the body: our surplus of salty sweat and the smell it leaves behind; the way our leg muscles cramp after a long bike ride; lake water and wind messing up our 'dos; and emerging from a bumping concert at 4 a.m. into the damp night air with an insatiable craving for powdered sugar.

Hot air and hedonism go hand in hand, as Sammy Mack outlines in MAP magazine’s recent Pleasure Issue (pdf). In “Pleasure City: Overnight in New Orleans,” Mack takes us with her friends from outdoor bar Pravada, to Decatur Street, to a Soul Rebels show at the Republic, with little fuss or deliberation.

“Where to now?” she writes.

“I could use some food.”

“Mimi’s then?”

Mimi’s is closed, so the group ends up at the Mardi Gras Zone noshing on Cajun Dill Gator-Tators and muffalettas, then Café Du Monde for beignets:

The patio chairs are stacked upside-down on the tables so the ground can be hosed clean of powdered sugar, so we duck inside and find tables.  It’s a cheery, well-lit space frequented a this hour by sorority girls and older men whose hands are stamped like passports from all the shows they’ve seen this week. . . . The only food item on the menu is a plate of beignets.  They arrive in triumphant little stacks of three fried dough pillows, buried under a healthy snow of powdered sugar. I am convinced that these sugar-dusted darlings are the bedrock of this town.  I imagine if we dug up the streets, below 300 years of cobblestone and dirt, we would find beignets.  Still warm, still chewy.

Image by wallyg, licesned under Creative Commons.