At a used book sale here in St. Louis over the weekend I acquired a mint condition "New Orleans City Guide." The book is copyrighted 1938 by Mayor Robert Maestri and was prepared as part of the WPA writer's project. Wow! What an eye opener. As complete a travel guide as you will ever want to see but from a Chowhound standpont the sections on restaurants and recipes is the most interesting.
How about this excerpt from a section on Antoine's? "Open 11am to 10:30 pm. A la carte service only with minimum charge of $1 per person. Private rooms for dining and for banquets. A representative meal can be had from $3 to $3.50 per person." Like descriptions follow for Arnaud's (lunch for $0.50 to $0.75), Begue's ($1 to $1.25), Broussard's (seafood dinner $1, steak dinner $1.25), Commander's (no price given but special mention of "soft-shell turtle ragout" but "only obtainable during the warm months), Galatoire's (lunch $0.60, dinner $1, $1.25 with "small bottle of wine). Po-boy's are described as being roast beef sandwiches on a 28 inch loaf of french bread for $0.10!
The book contains descriptions of the The Blue Room in the Roosevelt Hotel, the Sazerac Bar and many others.
Of course, needing a place to stay in 1938 you could have the Roosevelt Hotel for $3.50 a night with "400 air-conditioned" rooms or the Monteleone for $1.50 to $3.50. The Monteleone description notes that of its 600 rooms "540 have radios, 500 have private baths and all have hot and cold running water and ceiling fans."
These were the cholestrol free days as all the recipes call for lard. Butter flowed like water. An imagined tour through the French Quater includes the sights and sounds of fruit sellers and "spasm bands."
Those were the days, my friend, those were the days.