It would be wrong to leave New Orleans without mentioning the food. It appears to be difficult to get a mediocre meal in New Orleans (except at a conference hotel). I owe a debt that I fear I will never be able to repay to Alex Cruden, late of the Detroit Free Press, who introduced me to the Commander's Palace in the Garden District. The twenty-five-cent martinis! The turtle soup with sherry! And not just there. Lunch with Carol Saller at the Palace Cafe: fried oysters on a slice of ciabatta with a sauce that was apparently produced by sorcery. The seafood and okra gumbo and crab maison at Galatoire's. And, invariably, the coffee with chicory and beignets at the Cafe Du Monde. There are moments in New Orleans when the rest of the nation looks like a food desert.