Once upon a time, through a combination of luck and algorithm (also known as priceline.com), my partner and I ended up spending part of Christmas week at Le Pavillon, a fine old hotel in New Orleans. We took some long walks, ate oysters and po’boys, greeted the statue of Ignatius Reilly, and got soaked in torrential rains. But when we got back to Le Pavillon late at night and wringing wet, we got to dry off in the lobby with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and milk.
The PB&J’s are Le Pavillon’s signature tradition, inspired by a business traveler who, one evening in 1988, requested a glass of milk at the hotel bar. This is an unusual order from an adult, particularly in New Orleans, so the bartender, who also happened to be the hotel’s general manager, asked about it. The traveler said that every night, he and his young daughter had milk and PB&J’s before bed. Charmed, the manager had the kitchen make the man a sandwich every night of his stay. Other guests saw the sandwiches and thought they would hit the spot. And thus a tradition was born: every night at 10 p.m., Le Pavillon puts out a spread of sandwiches and milk, and also cookies and hot chocolate.
We were delighted by this story and the sandwiches, and my partner, who cannot resist anything free, insisted on getting his sandwich every night we stayed there. (In retrospect, we should have grabbed some extra for the drive home, which was on Christmas Day when absolutely nothing was open in the entire state of Arkansas.)
What other charming food-related giveaways have you encountered while traveling? Who else has stopped at Wall Drug for the sole purpose of getting free ice water and a nickel cup of coffee?