Liuzza's By The Track
1518 North Lopez Street
New Orleans, LA 70119-3029
Liuzzas by the Track is over by the fairgrounds, in the leafy, green, and blissfully ambling tourist free environs of Midcity. Liuzzas bills itself as a neighborhood cafe, and, unlike most joints that claim this status, actually is one: locals shoot the shit and watch sports on television here and get out of the heat. The kitchen speciality is po-boys and gumbo, with the barbecued shrimp po-boy given particular emphasis on the menu: I came here to try out the gumbo.
And I was hungry. I'd ridden a ways here from my apartment in the Garden District on my trusty and only slightly embarrassing BMX bicycle. More importantly, it was late May and New Orleans summer weather had really kicked in, inflicting Mumbai-like levels of blistering heat and humidity upon us poor permant residents. Not that I'd be a permanant resident long: I was packing up my apartment and heading back to Sacramento, prior to moving to, well, Cambodia. Long story short, this gumbo was sort of a last-gasp gumbo, a paen to New Orlean gumbos (if you will). That makes it sound real important.
Luckily, Liuzza's gumbo is awesome. It has a distinctive oregano heavy and very Italian flavor that works perfectly with the fatty and delicious andouille and shrimp and oysters. It's a light-textured gumbo with a lot of meat and a lot of delicious animal fat, and a good level of built in spice: I was pleased to find that I only had to add a smidgen of Crystal instead of my usual vigorous and extended shake-shake-shake. I dumped some saltines on top and horked the gumbo down, listening to folks around me discuss the oil spill, the horrors of the weather, and The Crazy Ass Things We Did Last Weekend You Won't Believe It: now that's what I call home, or at least something approximating a spiritual base, with gumbo at the center of it. I could see my bike outside. I had to sell it the next day. I didn't want to.
I am going to miss New Orleans, and I am going to miss gumbo. Maybe I can make it in Phnom Penh. Well, maybe.