One of the unique things amongst the plethora of unique things about the city of New Orleans is a treat called Roman Candy. It is a chewy candy rolled into a baguette and wrapped in wax paper. The flavors offered are vanilla (my favorite), chocolate, and strawberry.
When I was a girl growing up in the uptown neighborhood of Broadmoor, my sisters and I would sometimes catch the Roman Candy carriage roaming around uptown or sometimes parked on St. Charles Avenue. That’s the thing about Roman Candy that made it so special – it was only sold from the carriage, and children never knew where the driver-salesman would be.
Mama would let us have the treat every now and then when we found ourselves in the right place at the right time. My first memory of Roman Candy prices it at ten cents. Goodness only knows how much it is now.
What prompted a post about this New Orleans tradition? It all started when Heidi sent Granddaughter her birthday gift and included the sweet surprise. “Surely, I can have some, too?” Yes, yes, she affirmed, knowing well my penchant for any and every confection. I woke up this morning thinking about how different is my city from when I was a child, how many standard sights and sites are no longer. We used to say “K&B purple,” but K&B no longer exists, so how do we describe that shade of purple now? No more McKenzie king cakes from McKenzie’s. People don’t want doubloons at parades (what!?), and Comus doesn’t even roll anymore.
I could go on and on. New Orleans will always be unique, a city like no other in these United States. But some of her traditions have died, and those who are not native to the city will never know what has been lost. And then, one day, the new generation will carry on and the tenor of the city will be theirs to create, and ours will be the memories.