Christina Ricci didn't make the tough transition from child star to adult actor without some baggage. Growing up fast does that to you. And, among other things, Ricci has publicly battled anorexia. Knowing this makes me feel flat-out uncomfortable asking her for details on where and what she ate in New Orleans. Then again, how can we talk about New Orleans and not talk about its unique butter-and-spice-fueled cuisine and its fabled restaurants?
Ricci makes it easy for me. For one thing, she's confidently declared that her eating disorder is well behind her. For another, the first restaurant she mentions is Mother's. "I, of course, loved Mother's," she says. "It's great."
It is that. Mother's is a sandwich shop, a New Orleans institution near the Superdome. It's noted for its long lines and for its sometimes ill-tempered staff. But mostly, Mother's is known for its po' boys, which are stuffed so full that it's almost necessary to unhinge your jaw just to eat them. The only thing low-carb or fat-free at Mother's is a glass of water.
There's not a lot of health food on the menu at Ricci's other favorite, either. "Tujague's was excellent," she says. That's probably because the restaurant has had so much practice. The traditional Creole eatery, located between the French Market and Jackson Square, opened in 1856 and claims to be the second-oldest restaurant in the city behind Antoine's. Charles de Gaulle ate there. And, for what it's worth, so did Monica Lewinsky.
"We also went to Galatoire's," Ricci says of another temple of French Creole cuisine. "That's a very cool place."
I ask her if she stood in line at Galatoire's, which turns 100 this year and has somehow managed to maintain its dignity even as the Bourbon Street businesses that surround it have grown raucous. "No. We had reservations," Ricci says. "Do people usually stand in line when they have reservations?"
They do. It's one of those New Orleans traditions, like the jazz funeral or the Mardi Gras krewe, that visitors don't always know about. But Galatoire's didn't even take reservations until 1999, and it still only accepts them for the second-floor dining area. Many of the city's power brokers would never dream of making a reservation. They'll wait in line, especially for Friday lunch. "Really?" Ricci asks about the lineup. "That's different. Well, it is pretty good there."