Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Makes a Restaurant an Institution?

Our next weekend assignment requires you to seek out a "New Orleans institution" type restaurant and write about the role that it plays and hopes to play in shaping local culture.

The first thing we need to do in this assignment is to define what we mean by "an institution."If we turn to an online dictionary definition such as this one, we draw nearer to a full picture of your goal for this assignment. By aggregating all of the relevant meanings of the word and applying them to New Orleans restaurants, you begin to understand that you are looking for an establishment that has been around for a while. An "institution" cannot be new, even if it is a fine dining restaurant like the excellent Patois or equally good Lilette. Yet at the same time, places like Antoine's, Galatoire's, and Commander's Palace are institutions. What are some of the similarities and differences that you see between these restaurants and the other two that I list above?

Yet an institution does not have to be fancy or even expensive. Your reading for Wednesday included "A Lunchtime Institution Overstuffs its Last Poboy," which was about the now-gone Uglesich's. Re-read that article and consider the factors that made it an institution.

Can a chain restaurant be an institution? For instance, to what extent are Bud's Broiler and Café Du Monde institutions, and to what degree do they fail to live up to the standard? What about Ted's Frostop on Carrollton Avenue? Maybe read what some people say about it on Urban Spoon to help formulate your range of ideas. How does Frostop compare with Bud's? Can they be so different and yet both be institutions?

We'll spend a little time discussing the difference between anachronism and tradition and the intersections between the two. 

* Your assignment is going to require you to visit and experience a New Orleans institution - ideally by enjoying some sort of food or drink served there. It should be clear by now that you do not need to spend a lot of money to complete this assignment.

* You can pick a place from a list of suggestions below, or you can choose a destination of your own. If you choose a destination of your own, you will need to make a compelling argument why you believe it qualifies as "an institution," and I hope that you will marshal some evidence for your argument in your blog post.

* Before you go, do a little bit of background research about your destination on the internet, and make note of the sites you visit. You may want to cite and create back links to these sites when you write your own observations about the institution.

* As you arrive at your destination, kick your powers of observation into high gear. Consider all of the sorts of aspects that define institutions. What cultural contributions does the place make? What position does the restaurant occupy within the community's collective consciousness? In what ways do you see these attributes manifest in your observations? Or, perhaps, does this "institution" somehow fail to live up to its promise - not necessarily in a culinary way, but in its execution.

* Your blog post should be 350 words - about a full typewritten page. It should include photos and at least three (3) hot links that help fill out your post. 

Some institutions in different parts of town. This barely scratches the surface as there are so many:

FQ: Napoleon House, Verti Mart (take-out only), Port-O-Call, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, fancy restaurants like Antoine's, Broussard's, Tujague's, Arnaud's, Galitoire's, oyster houses like Felix and Acme, etc. There are many, many places that claim to be institutions in the FQ.

Chains like Tastee Donuts

Mid City: Brocato's, Mandina's, Parkway Tavern, Liuzza's, Liuzza's by the track (More BSJ area) Can Mona's on Banks be an institution???

Other poboy places uptown like Domilese's, Frankie & Johnny's, Guy's (why wouldn't Mahoney's or Stein's Deli fit into this category?) And then there is the whole Parasol's vs. Tracy's debate.... will the real institution stand up?

Even the River Bend has its icons. Can anyone say Camellia Grill?

No comments:

Post a Comment