Huh? I can hear you say?
I just finished reading Tom Fitzmorris's Hungry Town: A Culinary History of New Orleans: The City Where Food Is Almost Everything. Now, I don't usually do book reviews here, but this one inspired me.
I met Tom at the Maple Street Bookshop when they held a book signing a few weeks ago. I will admit that it was the offer of free Sazaracs, that pulled me in.
Tom Fitzmorris has been a New Orleans food critic for a number of years, and for a variety of publications. He also has a very successful radio show. He gained national prominence with his web site which tracks the number of restaurants in the New Orleans area. Post-Katrina, it began serving as an index of the recovery of the city.
One of the statements that lives with me (and I had subconsciously found to be true), is that in New Orleans, the most common topic of conversation is food. In other cities it could be politics, or the weather, but here it is food and restaurants.
On August 26, 2005 there were 809 restaurants in the index. This includes small neighborhood "joints," but not fast food or take-out only locations. By April 17, 2007, there were exactly the same number of restaurants, and today it is almost 1,100. Not a bad place to live.
The books includes a great deal of history about various establishments, both current and closed. It also includes a few recipes, and tales about some of the famous chefs from New Orleans.
I highly recommend this book.