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Jazz y Salsa

Though the curious name makes it sound as though it could be located in an Orlando strip mall, Jazz Tacos (307 Exchange Alley, 872-0015) is instead nestled in one of the most picturesque side streets of the French Quarter. It opened earlier this summer in the petit location that was most recently the New Orleans Cake CafŽ Ñ and, before that, LuluÕs Ð and serves Central American dishes that are familiar but prepared a little differently than the locally prevalent Tex-Mex style. There are the namesake tacos, made with pork on soft corn tortillas, but also pupusas Ñ the meat and cheese-stuffed disks of cornmeal that are practically the national dish of El Salvador. Go early for breakfast plates made with eggs, plantains, avocado and beans. Soups made with snails, crab, shrimp or beef are served Thursday through Saturday. Most dishes and combination plates are priced below $10. Service is fast and friendly, though those who can order in Spanish have an advantage. Jazz Tacos is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.

Mer and Terre

YouÕd be hard pressed to find anyone in New Orleans who wants the summer to last any longer than necessary, but if there were a few more weeks in August it would at least extend the life of a particularly tempting lunch special at Bourbon House (144 Bourbon St., 522-0111; ). Called the Mer & Terre (or sea and earth), this dish is a generous platter of tasting-sized portions of summer vegetables, chilled seafood salads, sausage and shellfish for $13. The particular assortment changes daily but the special has been consistent in providing a varied, interesting and refreshing lunch for the height of summer at a reasonable price. It is served daily but only at lunch (between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.) and only until the end of August.

It Is Rocket Science After All

The staff at EmerilÕs Homebase, the St. Charles Avenue headquarters of Emeril LagasseÕs culinary empire, worked with food technicians at NASAÕs Space Food Lab to develop meals for astronauts orbiting above Earth aboard the International Space Station. The project has been underway for more than 18 months. All the food was specially tested for use in space, prepared, freeze-dried, packaged and launched along with other supplies on JulyÕs space shuttle mission. Astronauts in the space station typically spend six months in orbit and NASA says diverse meals help keep morale high. LagasseÕs menu included jambalaya, mashed potatoes with bacon, green beans with garlic, rice pudding and mixed fruit. The celebrity chef spoke with the astronauts via satellite while they ate the first of his meals on Aug. 10. Ñ McNulty


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