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Two days until opening and time for a trial run. Going over early in the morning, Bobby Joe started the day as he if he were open. He mixed up the batter for the beignets and heated up the oil. Next he set up a giant bowl of powder sugar and another with a cinnamon and sugar mixture. Then he started the large pots of chicory coffee and a few smaller one of specialty blends, all with the chicory base. He knew that not everyone liked or understood chicory coffee, so he would educate them.
Then he finished creating the beignets and set them out on trays for frying. When the oil was hot enough, he put in the first batch and the wonderful smell of frying dough filled the air. When the first batch was done, he quickly tossed them into the powdered sugar, flipped them a few times and coated them all and then set them on another tray to rest. He repeated this, only switching between the two bowls until about half of the dough was fried.
Bobby Joe then took the loaded trays of finished beignets and then filled another tray with sample cups of the coffee. He then took them outside and set them up on the table outside his door with the sign, “free samples” next to the trays and went back to finish frying up the last half of the beignets. A knock on the door sounded and he went to see who it was. He laughed when he saw the line of people waiting for more of the free samples. He set out more of the beignets and more of the coffee. He then reminded them he would be open for business in two days.
After he finished the breakfast rush, he started on the jambalaya and gumbo. Cutting up the vegetables for the mirepoix he would need for most of his cooking. He also added garlic and peppers to the mix. Glancing outside his window, he could see people just smelling the air as he cooked magical mixture that was the base of most of his savory dishes. Next he sliced up the andouille, got the chicken pieces ready, and took out the seafood he would be using in the dishes.
Browning the turf meats, Bobby Joe sang along with some Ella Fitzgerald. He danced around his kitchen to the wonderful Jazz playing on the juke box, loving the homey feel of it now. He could almost picture himself walking along Bourbon street during Mardi Gras listen to all the buskers as they played they music for the multitude of tourists. Then the sound of Michelle’s laugh intruded and he had to concentrate on measuring out the rice to push away the sadness.
As he added the seafood last of all and covered the pots, the smell of the heavy spice filled the air with succulent teases of what the dishes would hold flavor wise. Again, a crowd was starting to grow outside his door. It looked like this new place was really starved for good food. He wondered how many would handle the spices he used liberally. Well, only time would tell.
When the jambalaya and gumbo was done, he served up samples and set them on trays for those waiting outside. Many asked when he would be open for business and he told them in two days. The evening air was filled with murmured compliments on the food and hoping it would be open soon. Some talking about memories they had of New Orleans, glad that some piece of “home” could now be found here. A sad smile touched Bobby Joe’s lips. Grammy Lydia would have loved this and Michelle would have stood at his side, her arm around his waist leaning against him telling him he need a few more chilies in the gumbo. He wondered when the memories would stop haunting him. Only time could tell. But for now, Cher Lydia would be a success.