Friday, December 11, 2015

No Place Like New Orleans

I've been to New Orleans lots (and lots) of times, because I have had family there, both before and after the Storm.  There are things about these trips that are difficult for me, but no question it is a place unique in my experience, and so I decided on this trip to focus on the quirks and qualities that have made memories over the years.   Here are just a few of the things I have found fun or charming or just plain New Orleans-y.

The mechanical toilet seat covers in the airport.  
     These make me smile every time I land in NOLA.  Toilet seats are covered with a sheath of clear plastic, which rotates from a fresh roll and into a trash receptacle (or so I hope) with every use.   All you need to do is wave your hand in front of the button on the wall before you sit down.   I've never seen these anywhere else, so they clearly say New Orleans to me!
 Beignets.   
     This is where I first tasted them, at the famous Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter, open (I'm told) 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.   Since my grandson was born in NOLA, I make them every year for our Christmas brunch, but I try to stop by the Cafe du Monde and order them once every trip, purely for research to be sure I'm doing it right.
 The "horse" (mule) drawn carriages.   
     These wagons line up all along Decatur in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, waiting for customers.  You need to be careful because the price you are quoted is rarely the price you will actually be charged.
Streetcars
     I have never ridden on the famous "Desire" streetcar, which is of course named after Desire Street, although I am told it is up and running again after a long 'down' time.   But I ride the St. Charles streetcar at least once every trip.  It is inexpensive ($1.25) and very noisy, the cars run about every 10 minutes but sometimes they get backed up and you can wait for half an hour or more, and you sit along with tourists and locals.   A definite must.
Beads.
     Look closely.  Along parade routes, the trees are filled with beads from previous Mardi Gras parades.    The beads, like strings of berries, are there all year.   Once in awhile a strand will fall down on the sidewalk in front of you like ripe fruit.
Red Beans and Rice.
     This is another dish I make myself as a reminder of where my grandson was born, but I still try to order it every time I visit New Orleans.   Just because.   I've got plenty of photos of it but it isn't all that photogenic, so I'll spare you  :)
The best bread pudding in the world.
      I try to have bread pudding one time on every trip.   It is so decadent, and not at all like the bread pudding we get in the north.   Filled with butter and brown sugar and whiskey, even once a year seems like a sinful indulgence.    I know I could make it at home but I'm afraid to, because there would be no one to limit my intake.   I meant to take a photo, but the hot, sticky goodness got my spoon moving so quickly that I forgot.
Street musicians.
      Some are just okay, some are good, and some are great.   On a good trip, there are fiddles, clarinets and lots of brass.   On this trip there was all that AND a (bag)piper.  
Street sign tiles.
     I just love these.   Old ceramic tiles mark the names of many streets.  You find them at corners.
Bourbon Street.
     filled with Too Much Information about people's private lives and activities, and freely flowing booze.   The French Quarter area is the one place I know where you can buy your alcoholic beverage at a sidewalk stand and then carry your drink into every store, even "mall" type shopping areas.    I generally try to have one old traditional drink on each trip.   Last year it was bourbon and milk, this year it was a sazerac.    My sister tends to the sweeter options, like the hurricane and yellow bird.  
       So, for those of you who've never been, or those of you who have, those are the usual highlights of my NOLA adventures.   It is far from my favorite place to be, for a whole stack of reasons.   I understand its charm, but frankly, I'm glad to be home.  :)
 


2 comments:

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

Gail, I totally enjoyed this post. Thanks so much for all the photos and wonderful information. New Orleans is on my bucket list and it looks so interesting.

spindelmaker said...

How great to read what you think is typical NOLA. I of course have different memories, as I was only a kid when I lived there, way back in the last century. :-)