by Max Brantley
We beat the monsoon bearing down on New Orleans for a quick look at a small exhibit at the Historic New Orleans Collection -- "What's Cooking in New Orleans? Culinary Traditions of the Crescent City." It's free. There's a good video, old menus and photographs and other items about the city's rich eating tradition. It's set, along with other displays, in a collection of historic French Quarter homes, just across Royal Street from the Omni Royal Orleans.
Not wanting to get too far afield on foot, we followed the tourist throngs into nearby Brennan's, which, fortunately, no longer enforces any sort of dress code, at least for breakfast. Yes, it's expensive (about $36 for a three-course brunch). Yes it's mostly for tourists. But it was also very good -- a bowl of Ponchatoula strawberries, an omelette stuffed with, I swear, five or six ounces of perfect lump crabmeat and, naturally, the Bananas Foster pictured here. It's a serving of fruit, right? OK, it's fruit modestly enhanced with brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, ice cream and some flaming alcohol.