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Plate Lunch Places


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I just came back from Lafayette and noticed that there are an abundance of plate lunch places. Is it a Louisiana thing, or strictly a Lafayette thing? Anyone know what defines a 'Plate Lunch"? How did the tradition evolve? and how is that different from plate lunches in Hawaii?

Edited by Bond Girl (log)

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

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I just came back from Lafayette and noticed that there are an abundance of plate lunch places. Is it a Louisiana thing, or strictly a Lafayette thing? Anyone know what defines a 'Plate Lunch"? How did the tradition evolve? and how is that different from plate lunches in Hawaii?

"plate lunches" are common across the U.S.

the constituents vary based upon the regional cuisine.

Edited by Nathan (log)
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Addressing specifically plate lunches in south Louisiana, you probably noticed that they're often starch-intensive. It is common to see two or three starches in the same meal (most often rice, potatoes, and bread). For example, a typical plate lunch could consist of shrimp stew served over rice, with a side of potato salad as well as a hunk of french bread.

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I just came back from Lafayette and noticed that there are an abundance of plate lunch places. Is it a Louisiana thing, or strictly a Lafayette thing? Anyone know what defines a 'Plate Lunch"? How did the tradition evolve? and how is that different from plate lunches in Hawaii?

"plate lunches" are common across the U.S.

the constituents vary based upon the regional cuisine.

Nathan, can you give me some examples for specific places? I don't travel through middle america much so the concept of a shack that only serves lunch is kind of wild for me.

Also, if it's really common across US, can I find a plate lunch place say in San Francisco, or in Seattle, or even Tallahassee?

Edited by Bond Girl (log)

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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all over the place! it's not ubiquitous but it's certainly not uncommon.

for example, in Philly:

http://search.cityguide.aol.com/philadelph...unch/v-45-1392-

(I'll also note that many restaurants have "plate lunches" and still serve a dinner menu)

here's an interesting explanation...apparently the term began with the Hawaiian variant (which I had never heard of until this thread):

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-plate-lunch.htm

googling finds that "Old Town Cafe" in Tallahassee serves a "blue plate lunch" ("blue plate" and "plate lunch" appear to be analogous terms).

its interesting...this appears to be more complicated than I thought...you have various regional terms that are similar and cross regional boundaries at some point..or even become conflated ("blue plate" and "plate lunch")....what they all seem to have in common is composition: meat with a couple starches/sides.

edit: I'll also note that I've mostly run across the term "plate lunch" in rural areas. however, it appears that a Hawaiian plate lunch is easily found in San Francisco or Seattle:

http://www.yelp.com/list_details?list_id=q...P4sbnekPSpg0dsA

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/food/212468_ask18.html

and in NY the Hawaiian plate lunch is available here:

http://www.seamlessweb.com/AtHome/LLHawaii...YorkCity.2274.r

Edited by Nathan (log)
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What, specifically, did you find so "unique" about the plate lunches of Lafayette? A modest establishment serving a daily, composed lunch special is pretty common all over the South, not just in Acadiana. Certainly, you'll find some ingredients in Acadiana (crawfish, shrimp, crab, cajun charcuterie items, alligator, variety cuts of pork, turkey necks & wings) that aren't so common outside the region, but the overall form isn't that odd. Even those ingredients aren't specific to Lafayette, but to a generalized area across a wide swatch of Louisiana south of Alexandria.

Throughout south Louisiana (and into the TX, MS, and AL gulf coasts), you will find gas stations/convenience stores, small takeout-only restaurants, sweet-shop/snowball-stands, as well as typical small town cafes serving "home cooking" style plate lunches....generally some sort of protein-based main dish, at least one starch, and a veggie or two. Pot cooking (aka braising) tends to dominate....stews, fricassees, etouffees, gumbos, "smothered" dishes...in short, moist, uncomplicated (but delicious) dishes easily cooked in volume using minimal kitchen equipment.

Farther inland, the "meat and three" style plate lunch tends to take over: one main protein item (less dominated by pot cooking and often including baked and roasted items) and three veggie/starch options.

Damn, now I'm all hungry--l'll have to go out and get a plate lunch today.

Edited by HungryC (log)
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What, specifically, did you find so "unique" about the plate lunches of Lafayette?  A modest establishment serving a daily, composed lunch special is pretty common all over the South, not just in Acadiana.  Certainly, you'll find some ingredients in Acadiana (crawfish, shrimp, crab, cajun charcuterie items, alligator, variety cuts of pork, turkey necks & wings)  that aren't so common outside the region, but the overall form isn't that odd.  Even those ingredients aren't specific to Lafayette, but to a generalized area across a wide swatch of Louisiana south of Alexandria.

Throughout south Louisiana (and into the TX, MS, and AL gulf coasts), you will find gas stations/convenience stores, small takeout-only restaurants, sweet-shop/snowball-stands, as well as typical small town cafes serving "home cooking" style plate lunches....generally some sort of protein-based main dish, at least one starch, and a veggie or two.  Pot cooking (aka braising) tends to dominate....stews, fricassees, etouffees, gumbos, "smothered" dishes...in short, moist, uncomplicated (but delicious) dishes easily cooked in volume using minimal kitchen equipment.

Farther inland, the "meat and three" style plate lunch tends to take over:  one main protein item (less dominated by pot cooking and often including baked and roasted items) and three veggie/starch options.

Damn, now I'm all hungry--l'll have to go out and get a plate lunch today.

I think it is unique for the home cooking it represents-I guess it's new and fascinating to a city girl like me because it is not so standardized and because it is home cooking, each and everyone is different and unique. You can have three different versions of etouffes if you like.

You are right, a composed lunch of a meat and 3 veg is not so extraordinary. For the same argument, you can say, a course at Per Se is really not that special since it's a little piece of fish sitting in a sauce on top of a big plate. It really comes downt o how it's done....

I haven't traveled in the South at all. I've never had to drive car to get anything (no drivers license) so even the snowball / daquiri drive throughs are a riot for me.

It's just perspective that's all.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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it really is ubiquitous outside of major urban centers.

edit: and even then, say here in NY there are plenty of Dominican or whatever lunch only places tucked away that are serving what is basically a meat and three.

Edited by Nathan (log)
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The Independent Weekly has a story this week on places in and around Lafayette:

http://www.theind.com/cover2.asp?CID=-2034404030

They left out Chris' Poboys on Ambassador Caffery in Lafayette, which is in a combination gas station-wine and cigar shop. Strange combination but they have my favorite poboys in the area: roast pork especially.

Scorpio

You'll be surprised to find out that Congress is empowered to forcibly sublet your apartment for the summer.

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