I never met you, but like many in the food and New Orleans worlds (which certainly have plenty of overlap), I was sad to hear about your passing. When my mom and I visited New Orleans this summer, and asked for restaurant recommendations from our B&B proprietor, his first response was, “Willie Mae's.” The fried chicken. Repeat. The FRIED CHICKEN.
In the next two days, we walked around New Orleans, and planned for our Saturday late lunch at Willie Mae's. We got caught in a rain storm, one of those afternoon Gulf storms that pour daily in the hot summer, then stop as suddenly as they came. Because of the rain, we were late getting back to our car; still, I was determined not to miss out on the fried chicken.
There was a line, of course. We went to the original (rebuilt in the same location after Katrina) house in the Treme neighborhood. We waited as the door manager counted the parties and available seating. We waited again, once inside – at the end of the day, with everyone ordering fried chicken, side items being 86ed as we ordered them, I began to worry.
But eventually it came. And lord, was it good. Juicy, crispy, everything you want in fried chicken, and I've tasted and made some great fried chicken (Thomas Keller, looking at you.) Her recipe is a wet-batter, which gives it a unique texture, 350 degrees, spices - beyond that I'm still trying to figure it out.
Thank you for your inspiration and perseverance! We all have something to learn from your extraordinary life and cooking.