That’s why they call it comfort food

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red beans at sammys

Freezers are being emptied of meat and the haul from that last fishing trip, canned food is being swept from the shelves and coolers are being stocked. With a storm approaching, the normal New Orleans preoccupation with food turns precautionary.

Still, you have to eat, and if that brings you out to restaurants keep in mind that those businesses are hurriedly making their own plans for the storm.

“We’re hearing from a lot of them and most are saying they plan to close Tuesday and Wednesday,” says Erica Papillion, director of communications for the Louisiana Restaurant Association. “But then many others are closing after lunch today.”

Most report they plan to reopen Wednesday night or Thursday, Papillion says, depending of course on how the storm plays out.

The LRA has been asking restaurants to share their plans on its own Facebook page so they can compile a central list. (The LRA has also posted a sample hurricane plan for restaurants on its Web site).

In the meantime, it is still Monday in New Orleans and that means red beans and rice are on lunch menus all over town. This might be the ultimate New Orleans comfort food, and if there’s ever a time when a little hometown comfort is in order it is times like these.

You probably have your own go-to for red beans, but some of my personal favorites in different neighborhoods that are open for lunch today include Sammy’s Food Service and Deli in Gentilly (with house-made smoked sausage), Charlie’s Seafood in River Ridge (with andouille and jalapeno cornbread), Mandina’s in Mid-City (with Italian sausage) and High Hat CafĂ© on Freret Street (with fried chicken on the side).

If you’re one of those people who suffer some queasiness during hurricane preparations, a big plate of meaty red beans might just be the antidote.

Keep calm and pass the hot sauce.

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