New Orleans Hosts 1994 Congress: New Orleans offers Congress attendees Cajun cooking, Creole cuisine, festivals, jazz, historical landmarks, and more!
Post on 31-Oct-2016
JANIJARY I994 VOL 59. NO I AORN JOURNAL
New Orleans Hosts 1994 Congress
ew Orleans offers Congress attendees Cajun cooking, Creole cuisine, festivals, N jazz, historical landmarks, and more!
ether they call i t the w Paris of the Americas, Americas International City, the Gateway to the Americas, the City that Care Forgot, the Crescent City, or the Big Easy, most people will agree that New Orleans is unique. It is the only American city that is below sea level (ie, four to six feet below), and Louisiana is the only state that was once a French colony. Since its found- ing, New Orleans has retained a distinctive culture that is cher- ished by the citys 1.2 million residents.
La Nouvelle Orleans
ith permission from the child-king of France,
Frenchman Sieur de Bienville established a settlement in the French-owned Louisiana terri- tory in 1717 and named it La Nouvelle Orleans after the kings duke. John Law, a shady real estate speculator, persuad- ed Europeans to join the new colony with promises of fabu- lous wealth. Newcomers, how- ever, found themselves living in crude shacks among mos- quito-infested swamps.
As the new settlers were busy dealing with hurricanes and floods, they were not aware
that Spain had procured Louisiana through a secret treaty until four years later. After an unsuccessful protest against the new owners, the set- tlers faced more challenges. In 1788, a fire destroyed 80% of the city, and another fire destroyed more buildings six years later. After New Orlean- ians quickly rebuilt the city, another secret treaty in 1803 gave Louisiana back to France, which then sold the territory to Thomas Jefferson for $15 mil- lion. Nine years later New Orleans joined the Union.
urrounded by the Missis- S sippi river, Pontchartrain lake, and giant oak-cypress swamps, early residents were isolated from the rest of the country for more than 240 years (eg, the first metropolitan bridge was not built until 1958). Consequently, New Orleanians developed a special culture of jazz, Creole and Cajun cuisine, jazz funerals, Mardi Gras, and cities of the dead (ie, above-ground ceme- teries) without external influ- ences. From a rugged begin- ning, New Orleans evolved into a city that now attracts and
Music fills the air in New Or- leans as street musicians enter- tain passersby.
entertains visitors from around the world with its many distinc- tive attractions.
The first thing to remember when visiting New Orleans is that natives prefer the pronun- ciation NAwlins or Nyawlins, not Noo Orleeans. Residents have a unique dialect; side- walks are banquettes, and counties are parishes. Also, remember that New Orleanians do not say north and south when giving directions. Instead, they say lakeside (ie, towards Lake Pontchartrain), riverside (ie, toward Old Man
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The St Charles Avenue Street Car, the oldest active street car in the country, travels past mansions, universities, and Audubon park.
The famous French Quarter features beautiful buildings.
River), upriver (ie, uptown), or downriver (ie, downtown).
Things to Do
nce you have mas- 0 tered the dialect , you will be ready to see the town. New Orleans is a 24-hour city (ie, there are no closing laws), so there is always something to do. Here are some suggestions.
Sightseeing. Introduce yourself to the Crescent City by riding the St Charles Avenue Street Car, the oldest continu- ously operating street railway system in the country. The 1 SO-year- old street car rolls along St Charles Avenue from Canal Street to Carroll- ton, travelling under giant arching oaks, past the Garden District man- sions, Loyola and Tulane Universities. and Audu- bon park. Also, enjoy a ride to the top of the World Trade Center for a fabulous view of the city, or tour the Miss- issippi on one of the many ferry boats or pad- dlewheel steamboats.
French Quarter. The French Quarter offers an assortment of activities. Jackson Square, the heartbeat of the French Quarter, always hosts a variety of musicians, tap dancers, f ire eaters, mimes, fortune tellers,
and artists. Visitors can enjoy the entertainment or visit the countrys oldest operating cathedral, which also is located in the square. Other interesting French Quarter landmarks include the 24-hour French Market, the oldest operating open-air market; Bourbon Street; and old buildings such as the nineteenth century three- story building on Royal Street that is considered to be the countrys first skyscraper.
Museums . New Orleans unique history is recorded and honored in various museums throughout the city. The Louisiana State Museum is home to a permanent Mardi Gras collection that includes elaborate costumes, antique ball favors, fancy invitations, and early float designs. The museum also includes the New Orleans Jazz Club Collection, a sampling of photos, memora- bilia, and instruments owned by famous musicians. The unconventional New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum dis- plays a working altar and offers ritual tours. The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, located in the house built in 1823 for Americas first licensed phar- macist, highlights nineteenth century pharmacology and dis- pl ay s handbl o wn apothecary jars containing crude drugs and medicinal herbs.
Zoo, aquarium. One of the top five zoos in America, the Audubon is the 58-acre home to more than 1,800 animals, including rare white alligators. Equally impressive, the Aqua- rium of the Americas boasts
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more than 10,000 fish, bird, and reptile specimens. Tropical fish swim overhead as visitors walk through a fish tank tun- nel, and sharks and sting rays swim before your eyes in an amazing 400,000 gal tank.
Music. A city that loves music, New Orleans nurtured jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong and King Oliver and cherished rhythm and blues musicians such as Little Richard and Fats Domino. Today, jazz, salsa, classical, reggae, zydeco, Cajun, and rock and roll music penetrate the streets all day and all night. New Orleanians celebrate their musical heritage with dozens of night clubs, elaborate festi- vals that attract artists and viewers from around the world, weekly concerts, and impromp- tu jam sessions-anytime, any- where.
Mardi Gras and More
ew Orleans early Cajun N settlers were farmers, hunters, and boat builders who worked hard during the week but celebrated life during the weekend. The nearly one mil- lion Cajun descendants now living in Louisiana still adopt their ancestors philosophy, Laissez les bon temps rouler (ie, Let the good times roll).
In New Orleans, the good times roll all year round. Beginning Jan 6, the annual start of carnival season, New Orleanians host countless mas- querade balls and more than 60 parades as anticipation builds for the one-day celebration that
made New Orleans famous. Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, occurs 46 days before Easter, which means it can be as early as Feb 3 or as late as March 9. This year, thousands of people will celebrate the legendary holiday on Feb 4, from dawn to midnight- before Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent.
Throughout carnival season, elaborate floats parade down the city carrying masked float riders called masquers. The masquers toss throws (ie, cheap sou- venirs) to individuals in the crowd who yell, Throw me something,
St Louis Cathedral, the countrys old- est operating cathedral is located in Jackson Square.
mister! Two of the biggest parades occur the weekend before Mardi Gras and feature
Bourbon Street, located in the French Quarter, is always festive. You have to see it to believe it.
60 marching bands and 75 floats with costumed individuals who toss more than 1.5 million cups, 2.5 million dou- bloons, and 200,000 gross of beads (ie, throws) to the crowd.
The good times con- tinue in March with St Patricks Day parades, Earth Fest, and the Black Heritage Festival. Congress participants will arrive in time to honor the late American playwright during the Tennessee Williams Festival, Thursday,
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March 17, to Sunday, March 20; celebrate Italian culture by watch- ing parades and sam- pling Italian foods dur- ing the St Joseph Day Festivities, Thursday, March 17, to Saturday, March 19; and run in the annual 10,000-meter race, the Crescent City Classic, Saturday, March 19.
Celebrations continue through the spring with
broiled beef or veal are popular with grits for breakfast.
Grits. This coarsely ground hominy grain is a popular breakfast side dish.
Jambalaya (jum-bo- lie-yah). This well- known dish consists of rice, tomatoes, shrimp, chicken, ham, celery, In New Orleans, food is meant to be savored
the French Quarter Festival, Spring Fiesta, and the famous New Orleans Jazz Festival, a celebration that brings 3,000 international musicians, artists, and special guests to New Orleans to entertain the 300,000 people who attend the 10-day event.
In the summer, New Orleans hosts the Great French Market Tomato Festival, Reggae Riddums Festival, and a spec- tacular fireworks display on the riverfront for the Fourth of July. When fall approaches, New Orleanians prepare for the Swamp Festival, Gumbo Festival, Octoberfest, and the Bayou Classic. After celebrat- ing Christmas with a Creole flair, the city throws a street party to celebrate the new year and watch the lighted ball drop from the top of Jackson Brewery. Then, once again, its carnival season.
hen you pack for Congress, leave your
low-fat diet at home. In New
Orleans, food is not just nour- ishment, it is an art form, an event. More than 1,600 restau- rants have perfected New Orleans style cooking, a deli- cious blend of Creole and Cajun styles, and will tempt you with everything from mudbugs (ie, crawfish) to gumbo. To make your dining experience a pleasant one, the following culinary dictionary describes common menu items.
Beignet (bane-yea). Perfect for the sweet tooth, these square donuts are sprinkled lavishly with powdered sugar.
Boudin (boo-dan). A hot, spicy mix of onions, rice, herbs, and pork is stuffed into sausage casing.
Cafe Brulot. This unique after dinner drink is a mix of hot coffee, spices, orange peel, and liqueurs, blended in a chaf- ing dish, ignited, and served in special cups.
Dirty rice. Chefs create this crunchy dish by pan-frying leftover rice and sauteing it with green peppers, onions, celery, stock, and giblets.
Grillades. These squares of
onions, spices, and whatever else the chef feels like tossing in.
Mirliton. This hard-shelled vegetable pear is cooked like a squash and stuffed with ham or shrimp and spicy dressing.
Po-boy. This sandwich spe- cialty began as a five-cent lunch for poor boys, but now even the rich enjoy the gigantic fried oyster po-boys, softshell crab po-boys, and roast beef and gravy po-boys, served on crisp French Bread.
Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler
semi-tropical climate, fab- A ulous cuisine, music, non- stop entertainment, and sight- seeing-what more could you want? After one week of wak- ing up to a New Orleans break- fast with beignets and retiring after an entertaining stroll through the festive Bourbon Street, you will understand what the Cajuns meant by Laissez les bon temps rouler.
CONSUELO KING ASSOCIATE EDITOR