MELISSA BLOCK, host:

The 37th Annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival opened today. The first post-Katrina jazz fest. Several hundred thousand people are expected over this weekend and next to hear music on 10 different stages. Everyone from Etta James to Elvis Costello, Paul Simon to Fats Domino to the Panorama Jazz Band.

(Soundbite of Jazz music)

BLOCK: And when their feet are tired from dancing they'll line up for the food. You name it's there. Alligator pie, crawfish etouffee, oysters on the half shell.

Ms. WANDA WALKER (Food Vendor, Love At First Bite): Hi, can I help you?

Indented Male #1: Yea, I'll take po' boy and give me the fried eggplant with the crawfish sauce.

BLOCK: Vendor Wanda Walker talked with us from her food stand called, Love at First Bite.

Ms. WANDA WALKER: We've got three lines about a half a block long that's not stopping.

BLOCK: It's not stopping. They know where to come.

Ms. WALKER: Oh yea. It's a war out here. They partying hard.

BLOCK: And make me hungry here, Wanda. What are you serving?

Ms. WALKER: I'm serving the Cochon de Lait Po-Boy. It's a slow-roasted pork for 12 hours on hickory. Then it's pulled apart and served on French bread which we call down here po' boys. It's got a own secret sauce we make up and we use shredded cabbage and we put the hot pork on top of it.

BLOCK: I am definitely hungry here.

Ms. WALKER: Come on down.

BLOCK: I wish I could. What else do you have?

Ms. WALKER: We have a fried eggplant with a crawfish cream sauce. And we take everything from scratch and everything's made on site. Take the eggplant, are peeled, cut, sliced, double battered and deep fried. And then we make a crawfish cream sauce all from scratch with Louisiana crawfish.

BLOCK: Well, how long have you been serving food at the jazz festival?

Ms. WALKER: We've been here six years now.

Ms. WALKER: And were you a little bit curious about how it would be this year after Katrina?

Ms. WALKER: Oh yes. There's always questions. You don't ever know when we have a disaster like we've had.

BLOCK: Well what do you think so far?

Ms. WALKER: It's, it's going great. It's really going great. People have come out to listen to music and eat food.

BLOCK: What have they been telling you when they see that you're back?

Ms. WALKER: The best sandwich in town. That's what they say. The only thing to get out here.

BLOCK: How much is the Cochon de Lait Po-Boy.

Ms. WALKER: Everything I sell is $5.00. Easy just to, everybody's take care with $5.00, no change. We were a little higher last year but we came down this year. Trying to help everybody out with prices.

BLOCK: Ms. Walker, how badly were you affected by Hurricane Katrina?

Ms. WALKER: Well we were out of our restaurant for five months, and we had to redo the whole restaurant over, and my husband's still got it right now. Still have a lot of work to do over there. But I have to take care of my restaurant first so my money's being made.

BLOCK: I lost you in the shouting there I think.

Ms. WALKER: Oh yea. I have three lines in front of me right now.

BLOCK: They're probably saying, get off the phone and make me my dinner.

Ms. WALKER: Yeah, they, pretty much.

BLOCK: Well it must be a sign of something that the jazz festival is back and it's going and I guess it must be one more sign that the city is on it's way back.

Ms. WALKER: Oh, the city's definitely coming back. They can't hold down the music and food, believe me.

BLOCK: Ms. Walker, it's great to talk to you. Good luck.

Ms. WALKER: Thank you so much.

BLOCK: Wanda Walker at the Love at First Bite food stand at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. She figures they'll fill 1,000 Cochon de Lait Po-Boys each day of the festival, which runs this weekend and next.

(Soundbite of music)

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