Editor's note: Due to flooding, the show has been postponed to a later date.
In Louisiana, food usually plays a starring role — or at least a strong supporting one — in our favorite stories.
For nine years, “Meanwhile, Back at Café Du Monde …” has used stories about food to work through the complexities of human emotions.
The show, usually hosted at a restaurant or cafe, features a series of monologues and stories told by chefs, actors, politicians and other Louisianians. Sessions of "Meanwhile, Back at Café Du Monde …” have been performed more than 150 times, according to creator Peggy Sweeney-McDonald, and a book of 67 monologues was published in 2012.
“They’re more life stories with the thread of food through them,” Sweeney-McDonald said. “They’re stories about life and love and loss and friendship, all around food.”
Some past storytellers will return to help “Meanwhile, Back at Café du Monde …” celebrate its ninth anniversary Sunday, June 9, at Mestizo Louisiana Mexican Cuisine on Acadian Thruway. East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome is slated to make her first appearance with the show, and Mestizo owner Jim Urdailes, restaurateur Y'zell Williamson, Don Bergeron of Bergeron's City Market and more will share their stories.
The idea for “Meanwhile …” hit Sweeney-McDonald as she was visiting family back home in Louisiana almost a decade ago. One of Sweeney-McDonald’s friends told a story about a Thanksgiving when she was working far from home and missed her friends and family. She was planning to celebrate the holiday with her boss, but the night before, she got drunk on a bottle of red wine and ate the entire coconut pie she was planning to take to dinner the next day.
“I had her repeat the story all weekend and it got funnier and funnier,” Sweeney-McDonald said.
Over the next few days, Sweeney-McDonald, an actor and event planner, imagined “Meanwhile …” as a food-centered ensemble monologue show. For the first performance, she assembled 15 storytellers at the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, and 60 guests showed up to listen.
“It was the longest show ever, but it was fabulous,” Sweeney-McDonald said.
Over the years she has produced shows all over south Louisiana and in California, where she lived until recently.
The name of the show grew out of Sweeney-McDonald’s love for coffee and beignets at Café Du Monde in New Orleans. A Baton Rouge native, Sweeney-McDonald lived in New Orleans years ago and would always end up at the celebrated coffee and beignet shop when out with friends.
As life changes, she always finds herself back at the cafe with friends and family having coffee and sweets. Two years ago Sweeney-McDonald moved back to the Baton Rouge area, in part to take care of her mother, who has dementia and is now in a memory care facility. Watching her mother’s health decline has been tough, Sweeney-McDonald said.
Amid all these changes, “Meanwhile …” and the historic cafe itself, have been a constant in her life.
“That’s my story — no matter where I live, no matter what’s going on in my life, I always end up at Café Du Monde taking life one beignet at a time.”
'Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde …'
6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 9
Mestizo Louisiana Mexican Restaurant, 2323 South Acadian Thruway
$30; includes taco bar and a margarita, beer or nonalcoholic drink
(225) 387-2699; bontemptix.com