New Orleans in August is a muggy and slow month. Walking down the French Quarter at noon left us queasy, all 6 of us. Well, make it 6 ½ if one counts an 8 month little girl named Lily.
The heat was too much for us, so we ducked into a old, beaten-up restaurant called “Rita’s”. It boasted air conditioning, and we didn’t even look at the menu posted in the window.
As we walked into the boisterous dining room, full of laughter and bad jokes, the atmosphere changed, abruptly; everything went silent. We were the only white folk in an all- black eating establishment. The menus were slapped on the table and chipped glasses with tepid water were slid across the table.
What should we do? What will we do? What… were the words in our combined minds. But one thing, one event only, broke the thick air in a hostile room.
Lily started laughing and waving at the ones whose eyes looked at her. “’lo..hello..” she cast around the restaurant like fairy dust.
Smiles, and “How old is she…what’s her name…?” Conversation opened up as if we were old friends, laughter and stories.
Man, that food was unbelievable, pure New Orleans. Forget about the famed chefs who had their own cookbooks. This was good food.
We paid and left, saying good-bye, and Lily waving at all, “g’bye!”
Someday, if and when we return to New Orleans, we will stop at Rita’s. Good food, good people.
|A composite photo, a year after Rita's|