We are not even in December yet and I have already purchased my smells-like-forest, real-Evergreen wreath for my front door, and hung it. Also, my Christmas lights are up. I love the holidays. Love them. Everything about them. I am that carol-singing, cider-brewing, tree-decorating, concert-going, Roosevelt Hotel-visiting, Santa-hat-wearing person you see on the street who looks like an adult, except that they are twirling like a five-year-old at the sight of the magical holiday decorations. Luckily, there’s no better place for someone like me to live than New Orleans. From free concerts at the Cathedral to lights on Canal to Reveillon Dinners all over town, New Orleans puts new meaning in the old phrase “holiday cheer,” imbuing it into every facet of Big Easy life before the holidays have even officially arrived.
Which is why I’m so excited this year to see so many ways to share our special New Orleans spirit (and spirits) with friends and family. Several appear in the easily-wrappable, extremely-mailable form of New Orleans cook books. Check out some of my favorites from this year’s bumper crop:
1. The French Quarter Drinking Companion – For a true New Orleans holiday, you’ll want to get into the holiday spirits, and the French Quarter Drinking Companion has you covered. It features local alcohol connoisseurs’ tips and tricks, inspired by traversing the French Quarter to bring you the best insider knowledge of this dynamic New Orleans neighborhood. You’ll learn everything there is to know about French Quarter drinking establishments ranging from the fanciest to the diveyest and what to drink where. Cheers!
2. Emeril’s Holiday Cookbook – Are you ready for this? This next culinary gift comes via a single click and, oh yes, Emeril Lagasse. Since I don’t need to tell you who Emeril is, let me tell you what he’s giving you this season — a FREE digital download of a collection of some of Emeril’s favorite holiday meals from his home and his kitchen. Everyone out there who can’t wait for gifts under the tree? This instant gratification is for you.
3. New Orleans Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the French Quarter to the Garden District – If New Orleans is the place that you come to be amazed by all you can see, eat, and do, “New Orleans Chef’s Table” is its book manifestation. This coffee table book features over 100 full-color images of sights and samples unique to our city. Explore the city as NOLA Food Goddess and GoNOLA Radio co-host, Lorin Gaudin, walks you through food culture neighborhood-by-neighborhood, the next best option to being here yourself. With over 50+ recipes from our best restaurants, you’ll find that perfect dash of pizzazz for any holiday table.
4. SoFAB Culinary Library and Archive – All this talk of New Orleans holidays got you hungry to get here and experience the Big Easy in person? While you’re here, realize what it really means for your eyes to be bigger than your stomach with a visit to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum’s Culinary Library and Archive. They’ve got 11,000 culinary books, food and cocktail menus, pamphlets, archival documents and more, from all over the South.
Lagniappe: Eat Dat New Orleans – Keep your eye on the future prize of Eat Dat New Orleans, a compendium of nearly 250 favorite New Orleans eating spots, and the traditions, history, culture and stories behind them. Available for pre-order now, with publication in February 2014 — conveniently timed for our next holiday season, Mardi Gras.