Somehow the piano sounds of Antoine Domino singing, “I’m Walkin’” waft through the air as I stand in middle of Bourbon St. The crowds, many of them here because of the Southern/Grambling football game, walk in middle of the street even though the cars have not been blocked from going through. The smells are overwhelming and a Pavlovian response rests lightly on my palate.
We are in New Orleans, one of the most singular cities that I have ever been in. Yup, it is touristy and such, but it is so much more. Even its architecture tells a different story with each neighborhood that our Hop On Hop Off bus takes us to. This is a city of history, of the Cajuns, the Catholic Church, Creoles, Andrew Jackson, Jean Laffite, Thomas Jefferson ( who bought it from Bonaparte), and a host of French names like Bienville, Lafayette, Malign, etc. It is also a city that during the time of slavery at the outset of the Civil War had more freedmen than any other state in the South.
Saying the New Orleans is the South may not give it the description that it really needs. Although it has a statue of General Lee, he was never here and the statue was paid for by a group of people not associated with the city or the state. People in Louisiana thought of those in Virginia as Northerners. Not that they were in the Union, but felt that they were so far above them geographically that they weren’t really the South.
Not as many confederate flags flying in New Orleans. Their history, music and culture are one that stands out as individual. Their heroes are more Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and other jazz greats. As a visitor, we are certainly treated as well and better than most other places we have visited.
The food sets things apart from anywhere else. There are so many fine restaurants and just plain good food, whether the Ruby Slipper, Mother’s, Emeril’s, Brennan, or K-Paul, the fare is sublime. I am not sure that I have ever had pumpkin grits before (I am a grits fanatic), but I had it here and it was wonderful. Do you ever wonder that when you are on vacation, everything tastes better than it did at home? Maybe that’s true for New Orleans, but I wouldn’t mind someone sending me home with a bag of Pa Pa’s Pralines, and a passle of beignets.