To Ignatius with Love: A Culinary Tribute to a Confederacy of Dunces

John Kennedy Toole’s novel A Confederacy of Dunces is internationally revered for having captured the essence and eccentricity of New Orleans — and for introducing readers to its larger-than-life protagonist, Ignatius J. Reilly. On this week’s show, we take a culinary look between the pages of the book that was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1981.
We begin with Spud McConnell, well known for his portrayal of Ignatius on stage. The Gonzales-born actor has become so recognized for his embodiment of the role, that the statue of the portly protagonist, which is located on a sidewalk in front of the old D.H. Holmes building on Canal Street, was modeled after him.
Then, we speak with Cynthia LeJeune Nobles, who examined food as a character in the novel, compiling recipes for her gastronomical homage to Ignatius, A Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook. Cynthia spent 18 months engrossed in the novel, and like Spud, developed a personal relationship with Ignatius and his world — jelly doughnuts and all.
Finally, we wash it all down with Ignatius’s favorite local soft drink: Dr. Nut. Having disappeared from grocery shelves decades ago, the beverage is as enigmatic as Ignatius himself. Designer Phillip Collier, the author of Making New Orleans, sheds some light on the mysterious Dr. Nut and provides us with an alcoholic version that he believes closely resembles the original recipe.
From there, we venture through the streets of the French Quarter to a Lucky Dog hot dog cart, which served as the setting for one of the most memorable — and gluttonous — moments in the novel. Lucky Dog’s owner, Jerry Strahan, is the author of Managing Ignatius: The Lunacy of Lucky Dogs and Life in the Quarter. He discusses his iconic business and its legendary employees.