New Orleans

September 13, 2011

Fortunately, Tropical Storm Lee was nothing but a whole lot of rain that only lasted two days. And when the sun started shining, so did New Orleans. A mish mash of French and Spanish architecture, New Orleans is like no other US city. It’s a pastiche of cultures, which is hugely reflected in their food and how it evolved. And boy, do they love eating. We went to a cooking school which is one of the greatest touristy things we’ve done so far. We sat at a table with an 86 year old war veteran and his wife and watched one of the most jolly and delightful people in New Orleans cook ‘her’ food for us. While gumbo, jambalaya and pralines don’t make me want to do a bullet point list outlining my enjoyment, a lot of love goes into their cooking and that is what makes it special.

I guess one of the greatest thing about New Orleans and I guess about America as a whole, is how friendly everyone is. We met a lady in a shop in New Orleans who gave us some tips about where to go for food and music. A couple of nights later, we saw her at a bar and she came running up, gave us both a huge hug and was genuinely excited that we had taken her up on her suggestion. That shit doesn’t happen in London. When I was first on my way to London, I got warned by a girl in Thailand that London would change me. And it’s true, as great as the city is, you go into London mode where you stay in your own bubble and rarely come out. You can say a lot about Americans but man are they a friendly lot. So much so, it’s rubbed off on us. Luke is now saying ‘take care’ and ‘pardon me’ to EVERYONE and I’m doing this really stupid wave as well as doing a thumbs up when asked if something is good in a restaurant. Luke needs to calm down on his new found blend of American-ness/British-ness and I just need to stop acting like a tosser.

Another highlight of New Orleans was the Garden District. The houses there are stunning. They’re similar to the Antebellum houses in Natchez, but I guess what makes them better is that you’ve got the chance of John Goodman, Sandra Bullock, Anne Rice or the Jolie-Pitts coming out of one of them. Unfortunately, there was no celebrity spotting. Fortunately, we actually found the correct celebrity houses and didn’t have to lie to you all and say we saw them. This was because we worked out all we had to do was follow around the midwest, mid fifties, American tourists, sticking out like neon cocks in a dessert with their socks pulled high, backpacks on and Starbucks in hand.

Looking back, we’re not entirely sure what we did with our time in New Orleans. We spent an unusual amount of time in Wholefoods due to indecisiveness and the need to eat some vegetables after two and a half months straight of eating out every night. We saw some jazz in Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Lounge in the French Quarter. Luke donned a bib and ate some cajun barbecue shrimp in Mr B’s. I started leading us on a self guided walking tour around the French Quarter. I cut it short after I realised Luke wasn’t going to tip me and it was boring. We hung out a lot on Magazine St which is probably the coolest district in New Orleans and I worked out that after working for years on Southern Comfort and all things Mardi Gras, that Bourbon St is definitely not where the party is at.

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New Orleans

September 5, 2011

Hurricane Katrina was six years ago yet the devastation is still so very apparent. Driving into New Orleans, almost blinded by the rain of Tropical Storm Lee, we saw communities of houses that were still half under water. In New Orleans itself, there are literally streets where abandoned houses are desolate, half destroyed and boarded up – and this is downtown. Parts of the city look like a war zone. It’s confronting and some neighborhoods seem to be downright scary. This is America, the powerhouse, so proud, so patriotic, yet they let one of their own cities still sit in the aftermath of destruction that happened six years ago. It’s almost unfathomable.

But having said that, every city has something amazing about it and we know New Orleans must have an abundance of it.