Easily one of the best television shows of all time, AMC’s The Walking Dead recently aired the first episode of what is likely to be a stellar fifth season. It seems folks can’t get enough of this gritty, well-written and well-produced show with an excellent cast and gruesome special effects. Surprisingly enough, not only does this serial horror flick (at least, that’s how I see it) have the uncanny ability to wildly entertain, it poses some serious questions about human nature and what a person would be forced to do in such a horrific, end-of-the-world-type situation.
There’s no argument here, it’s a fantastic show, but there’s just one thing I don’t get. When the zombies finally pull a “live one” down, why is it they always go for the guts? Yes, they’re mindless eating machines, but you’d think that base instinct they have would point them in the right direction as to the best parts. They’re always chewing on eyeballs, slurping on brains or playing with intestines like a child with a huge bowl of spaghetti. Why aren’t they fighting for the choicest bits? I could understand if they were chomping on the liver or heart, but what about the rest? What about all of that delicious meat near the bones? I mean, if you were eating a person, wouldn’t you start around the thighs and work your way up?
Thighs, breasts, drumsticks – the best part of meat is the meat after all! Is it wrong that talking about eating people is making me hungry? Making me crave things like, say… all of the bone-in goodness at Willie Mae’s Scotch House? Everyone who’s anyone knows that Willie Mae’s is where it’s at when it comes to some serious fried chicken. Located on St. Ann Street in the historic Treme neighborhood, Willie Mae’s has long been a place where folks could experience authentic, New Orleans-style “soul food” like breaded pork chops, smothered veal, collard greens, mac & cheese and let’s not forget “America’s Best Fried Chicken.” Feel the crunch as your teeth penetrate the crisp, perfectly scalded skin only to sink into the spicy, juicy flesh of a plump, bone-in chicken breast. For three pieces of chicken (breast, thigh and wing) plus your choice of side like sweet potato fries, you can partake of this bounty for only $10!
Now I’m salivating at the thought of cruising over to the strip mall at Claiborne and Calhoun, walking into Bayou Hot Wings and gorging on their crispy, fried chicken wings coated in a spicy Thai Chili Glaze or a sweet Steen’s Cane Honey BBQ. Oh and don’t forget the NOLA Fried Frog Legs that are delicious on their own or with a tangy Garlic Butter Parmesan. It’s so easy to suck off all the tender meat till there’s nothing left but Kermit’s fragile bones.
Speaking of wings, Restaurant Patois on the corner of Webster and Laurel has a luscious staple salad that always remains on the menu. Like his Gulf Fish Almondine and Potato Gnocchi, Chef Aaron Burgau wouldn’t dare disappoint his regulars by excluding his fabulous Crispy Duck Confit Salad served atop peppery arugula and drizzled with a seasonal dressing. This “salad” comes out with a huge, golden duck breast that’s been fried in its own fat (what confit means) and you find, for propriety’s sake, you must restrain yourself from picking up the breast by the bone like a caveman and chomping away.
Over at Salu on Magazine Street, you can sink your choppers into some really incredibly delectable meat like their popular Lamb Lollipops. These dainty chops that are cut from the ribs are perfectly seared and brought to the table while the shimmering heat is still rising from the meat. Executive Chef Dustin Brien is constantly finding new ways to prepare the lamb, but whether they’re smothered in rosemary butter and served with a roasted tomato and lima bean ragout or simply standing in a shallow pool of bright green pesto, it’s difficult not to gnaw every last piece of flesh from the bone.
Is that your belly growling or did an unearthly moan just escape your lips? Perhaps it’s time to reach out and shuffle along Freret Street till you bump into Mint Modern Bistro & Bar for some excellent, Vietnamese, bone-in grub. Sit down and try not to bite the other diners while you’re served a wondrous Crispy Hen. Along with a pile of sticky rice (with a fried egg on top if you ask for it nicely) and a fresh salad, you’ll get almost half of a beautifully fried and very crispy hen served with a honey mustard sauce on the side. Although you may get some stares, feel free to pick it up with your hands and dive in face-first, devouring every morsel of tender, juicy flesh and the flavorful, crunchy skin keeping it all together. Try to remember to use your napkin from time to time, after all, you’re not a ogre . . .or a zombie!
*Article originally published in the October 2014 issue of Where Y’at Magazine
**Salu is closed