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Café Du Monde, an American Tradition

  • Nia Sutad
  • Ade Astuti

New Orleans, Louisiana in the southern U.S. is home to Creole food and culture. And while there are many landmarks in New Orleans, locals and visitors agree that no trip to New Orleans is complete without trying a beignet and a cafe au lait at the famous Café Du Monde coffee shop. Ruth Reader narrates for producers Nia Sutad and Ade Astuti.

"Beignet is a French doughnut, that the recipe has been in our family since the early 1800s," says Scott Escara, who is the manager of Café Du Monde, a New Orleans institution since 1862.

VOA accompanied tourists Renee and Karen on their first visit to Café Du Monde. Renee said, "The beignet is delicious." Karen added, "I have never had one and I love it. I said, 'I will never have a Krispy Kreme [chain store doughnuts] again'."

Both the Spanish and the French had a major influence on New Orleans cuisine, but it was the French settlers who introduced the beignet. The square pastry is fried dough that has been sprinkled with powdered sugar. Quite like an American doughnut, but less filling. Locals enjoy the delicacy with cafe' au lait, or coffee with steamed milk.

Karen told us, "Well, I am a real coffee drinker, and this coffee is the best I have ever had. And, to tell you the truth, it's better than any of those commercial coffees that we have on every corner in St. Louis."

Even though Café Du Monde serves strong coffee, it's devotees claim the taste is not bitter. Escara says the secret to the smooth flavor is the blend. "Cafe' au lait is made with coffee and chicory. Chicory is the root of endive plants, also another recipe traditional to New Orleans. And the robust flavor of the chicory is supposed to give almost a chocolatey taste when you serve it with whole milk."

In recent years, Café Du Monde has expanded internationally with 63 locations around the world. But for many, there is nothing like the original shop in New Orleans' historic French quarter.