Duck Pie

French Quarter and Mississippi River (Pen-and-Ink and Watercolor by J.S. Graboyes) View over the French Quarter and the Mississippi River on a cloudy day (Pen-and-ink and watercolor by J.S. Graboyes)

“Oh, Miss Inez,” Mrs. Reilly called in that accent that occurs south of New Jersey only in New Orleans, that Hoboken near the Gulf of Mexico. “Over here, babe.” 

It’s one of the first descriptions in A Confederacy of Dunces, and one of the more memorable, but I never knew what it meant until, one Monday night in May, some years ago, I was at Mandina’s, way up Canal Street, eating fried veal with red beans and rice in a dining room filled with the descendants of Italians and Irish immigrants who, a century ago, had sought new lives in this swamp. I hadn’t imagined that, so far south you might as well be in the Caribbean, the cacophony of a New Orleans restaurant could sound so similar to…

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