Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Congratulations New Orleans!

I happened to be in New Orleans the night the Saints beat the Vikings to get into the Super Bowl. It wasn't planned that way. I scheduled the trip as a winter getaway a couple months back. I'd never been to New Orleans before. We watched the game in a little jazz bar on Bourbon Street. When the game ended the city erupted in a way that I can only describe as magical. I came home transformed not only into a Saints fan, but a fan of the city.

Before going on any trip, I like to read everything I can about my destination. Aside from all the travel guides, I also like to read some local fiction. I read the Ann Rice vampire novels years ago (and I am kind of done with the whole vampire thing). So prior to this trip I read The Neon Rain, the first of the Dave Robicheaux mysteries by James Lee Burke. It is a gritty and rather graphic cop novel set in and around New Orleans.

I also read A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. This was the funniest book I have read in a long time. It's the story of Ignatius J. Reilly, a geeky wannabe writer, who is forced to get a series of jobs in order to help out his mother.

Reading both or these books provided a snapshot of the city that I would not have gotten through the travel guides. It made me look at the policemen and hot dog vendors a little differently.

I also came away from the trip a huge fan of New Orleans food. From the turtle soup to the Mufaletta's to the pecan pie, everything I ate was delicious. You don't need to go quite so far for great Cajun food. The decision to take this trip was made when I ate an amazing dinner at Cajun Connection, a tiny restaurant in Utica (near Starved Rock State Park).

1 comment:

Joel said...

I was in NOLA in March of 2008; I couldn't agree with you more. I left New Orleans as one of its biggest fans: nowhere else have I encountered such Old World charm mixed with Southern hospitality. The ubiquitous nature of Tabasco sauce, street jazz musicians, and beignets (and Cafe Du Monde) served to be my favorite parts of the Big Easy.

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