Guest Blogging for The Crescent City

French Quarter, New Orleans. They never mention the other three-quarters.

Fun and exciting news! I'll be guest-blogging over at NOJuju tomorrow. NOJuju is a food/culture/lifestyle blog, principally about New Orleans. It's written by my dear friend Julie, who lives there in the heart of things. She's a great source of NO culture and important information, like where to get a good SnoBall and who has a good Po' Boy. She's taking a break to give her typing-gronked hands and wrists a rest so I seized on the opportunity to rampage around someone else's playground for a while, talking my usual nonsense on her dime. You should read her blog all the time, just for the cooking adventures. Julie is the one who introduced me to Puy Lentils, for which I owe her big time, and her food is always drool-worthy.

I'd love to write something insightful and pithy about The Crescent City's culture ('The Crescent City' is a poetic name for NO. Calling it 'The Big Easy' marks you as a gringo as surely as calling San Francisco 'Frisco') but I've only ever been there once, not enough to take the whole majestic, frantic party in. It was at the annual HWBTA conference (Hobby Wines and Beer Trade Association, now defunct) and while the visit was way too short (only one week) we were there we ate like kings the whole time: Brennan's, Commander's Palace, Emeril's NOLA and half a dozen other places. If I was going to draw any conclusions from my short stay there it would be that a) I have no idea how people eat and drink like that and don't blow up to zeppelin size, and b) vegetables seemed to be in very short supply, overtaken by dense, rich foods like gumbo, jambalaya and any amount of seafood you could hold.

But the fancy-pants joints really didn't hold my imagination as much as little hole-in-the-walls, places where regular folk went to eat simple food, well prepared. We were staying at a hotel just off Canal Street, and around the corner was Mother's. We ate there three times, and every time I wanted to order every item on the menu. The ambiance was pure lunch counter, but the food was pure heaven. You haven't lived until you've had a Po' Boy with Debris, which isn't anything what you might imagine, but goes great with iced tea. 

Would you buy a used tuba from these men? Washboard Chaz, Alex McMurray, Matt Perrine of The Tin Men

Another thing I remember about N'walins was the music. I'm a huge fan of Jazz, and although I'm not big on Dixieland, there is every type and genre of music on offer there that the hand of man has ever devised. Of course, being tourist-hicks we went out to Go! See! Music! at 10 pm. After hours of wandering around the French Quarter, we found only dead-silent bars and barred doors on the clubs. Mightily discouraged, we finally gave up and headed back to the hotel at nearly 1 am. As we walked down the street music suddenly started to fill the air. We hadn't read the memo that the party doesn't start until the weak and impressionable are in bed, and then it lasts until noon the next day. We heard some fabulous music than week: The Tin Men, Mike West, and Galactic, who lead us to Stanton Moore, and a half dozen other excellent bands pumping out Bop, Cool Jazz, ragtime, Zydeco, Cajun and everything under the sun. It was a wonderful time, filled with great food, great sounds and too many of those tourist-poisoning propane-and-kool-ade drinks called 'Hurricanes'.

Between Katrina, the shameful response to Katrina, the Gulf Oil disaster and many other bits of random bad luck, New Orleans has taken more than its share of knocks. But the people there have a wonderful sense of . . . I dunno if there's a word in English. Optimistic Fatalism? Cheerful Acquiescence? Whatever, they soldier on, having a good time, and always welcoming visitors with good food, good music and plenty of charm. I can't wait to get back there some day. Let the good times roll!

Posted by Bucktim Zydeco AT 1:41PM 0 Comments Comments Post A Comment Post A Comment Email Email

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