Guest blogger Kami Rice contributed this post, the second in her series of reports from New Orleans that will run on Bites.
This morning we headed to the bank...to eat. The newest Li'l Dizzy's Café, the one that's not the original one (that one's in New Orleans' Treme neighborhood and has walls covered with photos of luminaries who've partaken of its chow), is providing Creole cuisine for the businessmen and women of the central business district. There used to be bank tellers where there are now bartenders. The only money in the vault is the cash in the wallets of the folks eating at its table.
According to owner Wayne Baquet, the cuisine Li'l Dizzy's serves is the real Creole deal. The Treme area was built by Creoles of color, and this is their food, Wayne told me. "We cook it the way it's been cooked for 50 years." Which is becoming a lost art. There are very few real Creole soul restaurants left in New Orleans, he explained.
Wayne's family has been in the restaurant business since the early '40s. Wayne took over from his dad, who had taken over from Wayne's great-aunt. The family touch continues, from the granddaughter and sister-in-law who work for him to the restaurant's namesake, a grandson Wayne is clearly very proud of. Most of the recipes are his wife's recipes. Both sides of the family are Creole, and our breakfast was a decadent display of that tradition: grits, biscuits, jambalaya omelets, crab meat omelets, spicy sausage and "lost bread"--French toast covered with strawberries and bananas.
Amid so much family tradition it's easy to remember that dining is about more than just food. Chef Kevin Belton said it best: "It's not so much what's on the table as who's at the table." At Li'l Dizzy's, that's a recipe you can bank on.