As part of Classics Week 2015, Eater NOLA is taking a closer look at what makes the most iconic dishes of New Orleans, well, so iconic. Today, Tujague's owner Mark Latter and food historian Poppy Tooker (who's done years of research for a book she's writing on Tujague's) talk to Eater about why the restaurant's simple yet satisfying brisket is a Try Before You Die Dish of New Orleans.
When does Tujague's brisket date back to?
Mark Latter: Definitely the 1800s, though Poppy's really the one to ask.
Poppy Tooker: 1856, right at the start of the restaurant.
Who came up with the recipe?
Poppy: Guillaume Tujague and his wife Marie came over from France, and Guillaume had originally worked as a butcher before opening the restaurant. Therefore, he knew that the brisket cut was plentiful, inexpensive, and easily acquired at the butchers market in the French Market across the street. The dish itself is a version of the French classic pot au feu, which came over with them when they immigrated here.
Why is it so popular?
Mark: It's rich in tradition - people like to eat and dine in the tradition of the past.
Poppy: It's a classic on the menu, something they offered every day, it was and is consistent. Why do you think shrimp remoulade is popular? Because it's good, because you and your family have eaten dinner at that restaurant for generations. Those childhood memories are deeply ingrained, that's inter-generational. How could it NOT still be popular?
What's another of your favorite classic dishes in New Orleans?
Mark: I'd have to say Oysters Almondine.