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Interview: Cassandra Snyder, Culinary bicycle tour guide

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If you spot Cassandra Snyder leading a group of bicyclists around town, chances are they'll be stopping to eat soon. Snyder runs the Culinary Bike Tour for Confederacy of Cruisers (504-400-5468; www.confederacyofcruisers.com), which provides a hands-on overview of New Orleans' food history. Snyder worked in restaurant kitchens and catering jobs around New Orleans, and she previously conducted historic cooking demonstrations at the Hermann-Grima House. Today, she's a pretty handy bicycle mechanic too.

: Stops on your tour range from po-boys at Parkway Bakery to African food at Bennachin. What's the organizing principle here?

Snyder: We look at it as a progressive lunch and the diversity is the point. We do not always eat what people might think of as classic Creole food. The idea is to get people into what the locals eat. And these people come prepared. They almost always have a list of restaurants they want to try, and they're always running those lists by me. We're talking about restaurants the whole time.

: What difference does it make that you're all on bicycles?

S: That's part of the magic of this thing. The pace is really what makes it. If we run into a second line and someone's selling pies, we'll stop and I'll make sure they get some street food, because that's a really important part of the story. I tell them it's a culinary adventure. We get some type-A people who want to know exactly what we're going to do, but a big part of it is being flexible for some of the spontaneity of this city and that's not all at restaurants. In the spring, we might get crawfish and beer and go to City Park.

: What's it like leading strangers around for a progressive meal?

S: One of the things I love about it is bringing people together. It can be tricky sometimes when you have these different personalities and they're all supposed to ride around and eat together. But something always seems to happen to bring them together. It's usually something about the food and convening together, but sometimes we might find out everyone in the group is playing hooky from the same convention. — IAN MCNULTY

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