It ain't cheap being a coonass on the West Coast.
I had an envie (that means craving in Cajun French) for red beans; you know, as in New Orleans red beans - cooked for hours with ham hocks and onions and celery into a chunky mush that spreads across the plate when served.
So I finally found my way to the Mardi Gras Cafe & Marketplace almost hidden in the elbow of an indistinct strip-shopping center in the Point Loma neighborhood of San Diego. What a treat though. Walking into the shop was almost like stepping into a corner grocery along Decatur Street in New Orleans.
The walls of the small store were lined with metal grill shelving units piled with nearly every packaged food product imaginable from the Bayou State. There was the obligatory oversized row of Louisiana hot sauces. (Is hot sauce really that popular?) A nearby wall freezer was filled with boudin, andouille and alligator sausage, crawfish tails, shrimp and even frog legs.
The menu behind the counter offered muffalattas, po-boys, gumbo and other traditional south Louisiana fare.
I made groceries and here's what I bought: a bottle of Steen's cane syrup ($7), a jar of Savoie's roux ($5.50), a bottle of Zatarain's Creole mustard ($5), a pack of Savoie's andouille sausage ($8), two bags of Camillia red beans ($2.50 each) and one pound of frozen crawfish tails ($14) - for a grand total of $44.50 before sales taxes.
Now, back in New Orleans I could have bought all of those things for around half that amount.
I suppose it was a worthwhile expense. It's nice to open the refrigerator or pantry and see a little bit of home staring back me.
I can't wait to get those beans cooking! More on that later.