Drunken tourists aren’t the only thing you’ll find in the French Quarter. If you head down sleepy Toulouse Street, you might stumble upon the whimsically named Kitchen Witch, just as I did one afternoon.
Despite what you might think, Kitchen Witch isn’t one of the many occult shops you’ll see around town. It’s simply a store filled floor-to-ceiling with new and used cookbooks that represent every imaginable cuisine. French and Italian, you got it. Cajun and Creole, you bet. Micronesian, most likely. Heck, they even sell essential spices for $5 a jar and jugs of local tap water for $20 a gallon (because apparently you can’t make a good roux without it).
While smaller than your average Waldenbooks, I spent close to an hour browsing Kitchen Witch’s shelves and thumbing through my finds. Ultimately, I ended up leaving not with a cookbook, but with Sara Roahen’s wonderful “Gumbo Tales.” As I ate my way through New Orleans’ old standards, her book gave me terrific insight into how these dishes came about.
So should you find yourself in the Quarter — and don’t feel like giving into its temptations — why not pop into Kitchen Witch? After all, no one’s ever woken up with a regrettable tattoo because they binged in a bookstore. Though if this could happen anywhere, it’d most certainly happen in New Orleans.