Questions And Comments

“Crawfish” writes: You ever go to a restaurant with a particular desire for a dish that was served at a now closed establishment? You order it, and it just does not compare. Example: Hunan beef. I have ordered this numerous times at respectable restaurants, but none can compare to the Hunan beef at the now gone Jade East in New Orleans East.

Another: Veal Parmesan at “Lil Italian” which used to be on Vets near Clearview.

And another, although I cannot recall the name. In the heart of the French Quarter. Seafood place, restrooms on the second floor. Oysters Bienville, where they chopped the oysters coarsely and the ingredients were great and served in a great presentation.

Oh well. The search continues. . .

Tom sez: You are a victim of the Wistful Palate Effect, which causes the deliciousness of a now-gone restaurant’s dishes to increase without limit in direct proportion to the time elapsed since the place closed. If you had a time machine and went back to the restaurants in question and ordered the dishes you miss so much, you would almost certainly say, “This isn’t as good as I remember it.”

The first contact with anything we find enjoyable sets the standard for the rest of our lives, even when we discover unarguably better versions of the same thing. I have no doubt that my love for Antoine’s largely stems from the fact that it was the first grand old restaurant I ever went to. My first experience of the desert Southwest was at Big Bend National Park, which underwhelmed my wife, who had her first taste of that scene at the Grand Canyon. Even though the Grand Canyon is clearly the more impressive place, I still have a wistfulness for Big Bend.

All of this is okay, of course, but I do think we must beware of the Wistful Palate Effect, because it can prevent us from appreciating what we have in the present day, which in most cases is better than the badly misnamed Good Old Days.

And the seafood place with the oysters Bienville was Mike Anderson’s. Still in business in Gonzales.

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