When G was 16, the two of us spent a surprisingly cold, and later wet, weekend in New Orleans. When we arrived it was just cold, so I took advantage of the relatively nice weather to escort her through Bourbon Street. The sun was still shining and the eclectic debauchery of the French Quarter was not yet in full swing. We walked the length of Bourbon Street, looking at the architecture, listening to a few street musicians, meandering through a handful of specialty shops, and from time to time, smelling the repugnant aroma of bodily fluids mixed with alcohol. The latter being enough to make G want to take an alternate route back to our hotel.
We spent most of our time shopping and eating on Canal Street and buying gifts for special people on Magazine Street. The morning we were scheduled to leave New Orleans, we breakfasted at the original Cafe’ Du Monde on Decatur Street in the French Market.
There was a small wait to get inside, but it was well worth it. Nice and toasty warm, we were glad to have a seat inside out of the wind instead of the green tarpaulin enclosed porch. We sat down at a vacant table and within a moment, a waiter was before us taking out order. Since the menu consists of beignets and coffee, that’s what we ordered – 6 beignets and two cafe′ au laits. After ordering, I asked the waiter, “Do you take debit cards?” I didn’t have a penny in my pocket and knew I’d be in trouble if they didn’t accept either.
I was in trouble. They didn’t take checks, credit or debit. Cash only.
Feeling like a complete fool, I admitted to the waiter that I didn’t have any cash and he’d have to cancel the order. His kind smile betrayed his “here sits another unprepared tourist” thoughts.
“It’s okay,” he said. “It happens all the time (drawing out ‘all the time’ as if it happens aaaaall the tiiiiiime). There is an ATM in the variety store across the street. Leave your daughter as collateral.” G’s eyes pop open in shock.
I said, “Okay. Thanks!” I looked at G who was on the verge of being mortified and told her, “I’ll be right back,” and then left her there.
I ran across the street, retrieved enough moolah to ensure I would not be stuck in this predicament again, and then ran right back to Cafe’ du Monde and enjoyed wonderfully warm beignets ensconced in a mountain of powdered sugar and the best cafe’ au lait I’ve ever experienced.
If you are planning a trip to New Orleans, make time to have beignets and coffee at Cafe’ du Monde. It is well worth it.
Just remember to take cash.