There is a misconception among some that a single night at Les Halles in New York led to my demise as a 20-year vegetarian/vegan.
It was a remarkable night. I tasted the steak frites. I tried the coq au vin. My mind was blown – but not by the sorry quiche I ordered.
However, my commitment to vegetarianism was most acutely tested and defeated years prior to the Les Halles gorgefest.
It happened in New Orleans, Louisiana. We were celebrating Backpack Mister’s birthday with a trip over New Year’s Eve, or as they call it in The Big Easy, Little Mardi Gras.
After a night of Abita and absinthe drips in the French Quarter, the experience culminated in a music hall, the name of which I’ve long forgotten. The doors were wide open to the crowds on the street and the thick night air. A zydeco group shook the walls, compelling everyone within hearing distance to move, move, move. Minutes later, Backpack Mister was on stage with the band, a washboard strapped to his chest, playing it with spoons.
Maybe it was the music. Maybe it was the sweaty room, or the intoxicating vibe of New Orleans. But as I watched the Mister – who rarely dances and eschews the spotlight – I found myself breaking character too, munching deep-fried, breaded crawdads. They were little pillows of wonder: lightly crispy on the outside, toothsome on the inside, salty and addictive. Dipped in remoulade. Fingers shiny with grease, I went back for more and more. By the time the Mister returned, bemused, most of the basket of crawdads was gone.
I haven’t had crawdads, or been back to New Orleans, since. And while these days I’m mainly vegan, a night of Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez, and its deliciously addictive dance, would surely cause anyone to lose their inhibitions and dig in.
Charish Badzinski is an explorer, foodie and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations.
Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb
Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.