It's New Orleans: Out to LunchIt's New Orleans: Out to Lunch

The Birthplace of Work/Life Balance

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People who come to New Orleans as visitors often spend most of their time in the French Quarter and pack their stay with excessive indulgence. They start drinking way earlier in the day than they do at home. They stay out way later at night than they do at home. And they eat meal after meal of New Orleans’ specialty dishes, laden with cream, butter, and fried everything.

If you talk to any of these folks on their way out of town, they’ll typically look at you with the kind of reverence normally reserved for endurance sports champions, and say something like, “Man, I don’t know how you live here.”

We who live here tend to respond with the explanation that the French Quarter is filled tourists. Locals don’t eat, drink and party like that. 

Have you been to Arnaud’s restaurant in the French Quarter? They’ve been there since 1918 and built their reputation on serving a vast menu of French Creole fine dining - including 9 different oyster appetizers, 51 seafood entrees, 40 different vegetable sides, including 16 different types of potatoes.

Arnaud’s is massive. It’s an amalgamation of what was originally 13 different buildings. There’s a jazz bistro, two bars, and the main dining room seats 950 people. Yes, 950.

And here’s the kicker. The place is typically packed. With locals. Don’t tell your tourist friends who you’re trying to impress that you live an upright, healthy lifestyle, but there’s more than a good chance you or someone you know has plans to go to Arnaud’s - for a rehearsal dinner, a wedding, or just because it’s Friday.

Since 1918 Arnaud’s has been owned and run by two families. First the family of the founder and namesake, Arnaud Cazenave, and since 1978 by members of the Casbarian family. The current Casbarians are brother and sister Archie Jr and Katie, and their mom Jane.

French Creole fine dining is all well and good, but you can’t eat like that every day. And especially if you’re an athlete. Not just a professional athlete. Anyone who takes fitness seriously also takes their diet seriously.

If you’re a professional athlete, you have access to dietitians and nutritionists who craft specific meal plans for you - to maximize your strengths, and help bolster any deficiencies you might naturally have. For the rest of us, here’s some good news. You no longer have to figure out your sports diet on Google. You can download an app called Eat 2 Win, the product of a company called My Sports Dietitian.

My Sports Dietitian is set up to give everyone in sports – from high school coaches to individual amateur athletes – the same access to specialized dietary and nutrition advice the pros get.

The co-founder of My Sports Dietitian and the Eat 2 Win app is Ronnie Harper.

We hear a lot these days about work/life balance. The acknowledgement that there’s more to life than work and money. The point being, if you want to be happy, you need to prioritize happiness.

Apparently, the rest of the country just figured out what we’ve known for generations in New Orleans. It’s part of the reason living here is so attractive. And so different from anywhere else in the US. We don’t think there’s anything strange about wearing a costume, or going to work on Monday morning and partying with our boss and colleagues at The Maple Leaf on Monday night.

Similarly, we accept as matter of fact that we can live a healthy life, subscribe to a sports diet from My Sports Dietitian, and occasionally indulge ourselves with dinner and drinks at Arnaud’s without having a melt-down guilt trip about it.

Because, in New Orleans, that’s life. In any other city Archie Casbarian Jr, and Ronnie Harper might be regarded as being at opposite ends of the spectrum. In New Orleans, they’re two sides of a coin. Probably a doubloon.

Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com.

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