If you haven’t read our biographies on the “About Us” page of this website, your humble narrator, author of these blog posts, is a born and bred American through and through. Frau Schmitt, who is the better half of this operation, is German. We come from different backgrounds. Though Frau Schmitt has a master’s degree in American Studies, earned at UMASS Boston, there are still gaps in her knowledge about all things American. There are things we Americans pick up through osmosis, having lived here all our lives.
New Orleanians are like that, too. If you want to be bewildered about New Orleans, talk to a New Orleanian. This city, a world of its own, has its own vocabulary, its own dialect, its own culture and cultural assumptions, and its own magical point-of-view. If you’re not hep to the New Orleans state of mind, you’ll be lost after the first minute of a New Orleans conversation about anything New Orleans-specific.
Frau Schmitt and I have been watching old episodes of the Mary Tyler Moore Show recently. The show is a touchstone from when I was growing up American, and it’s a window for Frau Schmitt to get another glimpse of the American popular culture that shaped my world-view.
Mary Tyler Moore passed away today at the age of 80. Requiescat In Pace, Rest in Peace. She died in Greenwich, Connecticut, a town very close to the town in which I grew up.
Waitaminnit? What’s the New Orleans connection here? It’s here. Trust me. This story has a point.
We went to Antoine’s this past Sunday for lunch. Here’s a view of the dining room we occupied during our hour-and-a-half at lunch:
When we came in, the maitre d’ asked if we’d like to sit in the front dining room. I replied that we’ve always sat in the front dining room, which is very nice, but, this time, I wanted to sit in the adjacent big red dining room, the one with all the celebrity photos, photos of celebrities that have dined at the world famous Antoine’s for 177 years. Antoine’s is the oldest family-owned and operated restaurant in the United States. Oysters Rockefeller were invented there. The reason we had lunch at Antoine’s on this particular Sunday is because your humble narrator was in the mood for some fine lunchtime dining. I was in the mood for the gold standard of Oysters Rockefeller in particular.
After we were seated, I whipped out my iPod and took some photos. As I was sweeping the room with my digital eye, I saw that we had picked the perfect table at which to enjoy this most pleasant of all possible repasts.
This next shot isn’t a photo of the reason why this was the perfect table for us. It’s another picture of what it’s like to sit like royalty in Antoine’s big red dining room. It’s old-school elegant at Antoine’s, and there’s so much to look at:
After lunch, which was delicious, while Frau Schmitt was washing her hands in the ladies room, I chatted with Terry, who is a most professional waiter and a nice guy to talk to if you happen to be lucky enough to get one of his tables at Antione’s. I told him that Frau Schmitt and I have been watching the full series of the Mary Tyler Moore Show on DVD, two episodes per night, and how delighted I was to have this particular table. Terry knew exactly what I was talking about.
“You know who’s on that wall to your right, don’t you?” he asked me.
“Sure as butter, I know. That’s the first thing we saw after you seated us,” I replied.
I took a picture. Terry asked if we wanted him to take a picture of Frau Schmitt and I standing on either side of this:
We didn’t see a picture of Mary Tyler Moore while we were at Antione’s. That doesn’t mean there isn’t one. At the time, we weren’t curious to look for one. Next time. And, next time, we’re gonna ask Terry to take a photo while we stand on either side of her picture.
Everything converges in New Orleans. It’s a small city, but it’s a world class city. Everyone has been to New Orleans. If they haven’t, they want to go to New Orleans. Ours is a city like none other. It really is magical here.
Thank you, Mary Tyler Moore for informing our innkeeper sensibility. You taught us to be kind to one and all. There are few lessons better than that. R.I.P.
Love is all around there’s no need to waste it. You can have this town, why don’t you take it. We’re all gonna make it after all. Nothing against Minneapolis, but New Orleans is very different from than Minneapolis in all the best ways. It’s much warmer, for instance.
We’re all gonna make it after all in New Orleans.
Use your better intuition and get your good self to this wonderful city we call home. Good memories are made in New Orleans every day. The best memories are made on Esplanade Avenue. I know. I see it happen every day. Follow us on Facebook; we post there 2-3 times a day to keep you in a New Orleans state of mind. Subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of this page. Most importantly of all, make a reservation at La Belle to experience the real New Orleans off the usual tourist radar. We live in a magical city. Plan ahead. We only have five suites. This is a small artisanal hotel. Plug your dates into our calendar here. We look forward to sharing our part of New Orleans with you.
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
…where every morning starts with a curated breakfast salon full of surprises.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017: A sad day and a happy one all at the same time. That’s the New Orleans way.