I co-wrote last Sunday’s episode, “I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say” with Jen Ralston, our sound supervisor. We wanted to include a classic New Orleans restaurant in our episode, the kind of old school place New Orleanians would go to as part of a family Christmas tradition. Sophia Bernette (India Ennenga) and her mother, Toni (Melissa Leo), have had to create their own traditions, new traditions in the wake of Creighton’s (John Goodman) suicide in the first season. I consulted my friend, New Orleans food maven Poppy Tooker, about possible options. She immediately suggested Tujague’s (pronounced TU-jax).
“Tujague’s is such a historic dining tradition that even the location itself is a landmark,” Poppy told me in an email. “Over 150 years ago, the legendary Madame Begue created the concept of Breakfast at Begue’s, an 11 a.m. multi-course meal which today is known everywhere as brunch. A meal at Tujague’s is like stepping back into the golden age of New Orleans dining. It has kept its authenticity into the 21st century.”
We set our Christmas dinner at Tujague’s, hoping that, in addition to providing a sweet mother-daughter moment on the screen, we might also evoke a faint whisper of the old traditions of Madame Begue. Tujague’s signature dish is its beef brisket. That’s a cut of meat usually associated with Texas barbecue, not Creole cuisine. Yet, the idiosyncratic is part and parcel of the Creole tradition. The owners, father and son Steven and Mark Latter, were kind of enough to let us include their brisket recipe here. If you can’t make it to Tujague’s for Christmas, you can still enjoy a little Tujague’s at home.