Some places have a natural magnetism and power. The early Popes acknowledged this when they were battling the scourge of paganism. They would tear down the pagan temples and build their own church on the same spot, hoping to capture the power.
The Royal Kahve Coffee House, on the corner of Royal and Touro in New Orleans is one of those magical places. I see you rolling your eyes: a coffee shop and a pagan temple. Let me explain.
Last Wednesday morning, I was hosting a panel on food blogging at the IACP conference. Normally, I sit alone in front of a typewriter, but now I was going to sit on a dais and moderate a discussion with Steve from Rancho Gordo and Pim from Chez Pim. I was staying at a guesthouse in the Marigny district and let’s just say it was funky and leave it at that. I was nervous that morning, and off balance from battling with a shower faucet that I couldn’t turn off, blown fuses so I had to dress in the dark, only a hazy idea of how to bicycle my way to the conference and I was running late, which meant I was riding fast and missed the left turn on Frenchman St and rode right by the Kahve House.
I smelled espresso. I was heading to the Hilton where I would be served industrial style, lukewarm American coffee so it was a no brainer to pull over, park my bike and treat myself to a real cappuccino and some damn good peach pie. Wherever Jeff and I travel, one of the first things we do is scout out the morning coffee place; it’s critical to find a good place or else you are off balance for the whole day. I had found my Mecca. It’s nothing fancy, certainly not slick, but it radiates a very casual warm vibe, and soothes you with color.
Needless to say I went every morning, and I tortured my housemates with my enthusiasm, but I didn’t care.
Saturday was my last morning in New Orleans, and it was a glorious day, so I sat outside sharing the sidewalk with a guy I had seen on a few other mornings. He’s a street musician, and he sat at his table quietly playing on his harmonica. As I got up to leave, he wanted to switch to my table as I had sat in his usual spot and we struck up a conversation about the street corner. He believes there is a mystical power to this three-way intersection and he told me stories about how all types of people wind up on this very corner. So, I’m not the only one who feels this way about the Kahve House. There are at least two of us.
If I were to pick a patron goddess, it would be the goddess of serendipity. I owe her an altar.