Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Orleans, Take One

I have been avoiding you. It's not like I'd cross the street and take a sudden intense interest in bland modern architecture at the very moment you were to wave, but maybe, if I knew you were nicely seated in a room with the door open, I'd add an extra step in my stride as I passed in the hall; or inadvertently dip my head between my shoulders in a faulty attempt at invisibility. I'd hopefully think myself elsewhere...because, as you know, that's where I have been for most of the past week: elsewhere.

And I have the pictures to prove it! Which is the problem, really. So. Many. Pictures. Hundreds. Digital cameras are a blessing and a bane: I could not stop taking photos, wherever we went in New Orleans, even as I knew most would be mediocre and fail to convey whatever grandness I felt the need to capture. "Okay, you have to stop now, because people are looking over~~" Compatriot told me just after we were served our luscious and ridiculous looking entrees at the frustratingly dim G.W. Fins. At that point, I should say, it was not that I was taking SO many, but that I needed to try the flash a couple times. Ambience. Pfffffh.

Only a few of the many, many glowing policemen. Moribund battery.
Many cases were a total fail: parades (where I was foiled by low battery/shifting people backs/movement/my ineptitude), bars, where I just didn't even bother. The latter part was especially frustrating, because all these random interactions were happening that I also wasn't taking notes on, so there was no way to remember wonderful bizarre turns of phrase...How on earth can we keep our vacation WITH us without documenting? Which naturally brings us to that problematic divide where the documentation of experience gets in the way of experiencing the moment. Right? OH GOOD LORD, just tell us about the vacation already.

We came, we saw, we ate as many fancy flavor combinations as we could order, we drank Nola Fizzes and special drinks that didn't seem to be available to buy; we shot our hands up for cheap metallic beads; we narrowly avoided being felled by collapsing drunks in the late morning hours; we were repeatedly mistaken for sisters. We warned each other that both of us wanted downtime and not this go-go-go business and then we did like six things in a day and fell into exhausted sleep on our nicely made beds, despite an inevitably unreliable thermostat. One of us did a fantastic job of navigating to all our vaunted destinations, one of us packed five too many fancy tops, one of us was chosen as a taxi driver's future bride; both of us scurried past Bourbon Street after our first jaunt down it, on our way to better things.

Some snaps from the first day:
Obligatory plane shot. I fancy a window seat.
First meal: Muffalettas
This sandwich is bigger than your head. We shared half of one and were stuffed. Pennsylvania peeps: think hoagie, but better. The Passionate Eater had a nice description from 2007, which still holds:

"If you've never had a muffaletta, allow me to explain this prodigious sandwich that calls New Orleans its birthplace. A muffaletta is sandwich that is loaded with a piquant and acerbic chopped "olive salad" that is almost comparable to a caponata + tapenade mix. The salad contains substantial hunks, bits, and pieces of marinated or pickled vegetables, including capers, pepperocinis, pimentos, anchovies, and olives. This is no puny sandwich. The crusty, dense, and chewy bread that encloses a muffaletta is twice the size of a dinner plate from Denny's. And every muffaletta is interlayered with slice-upon-slice of soft provolone cheese and salami flecked with peppercorns. Forget about Skittles, the muffaletta is the true rainbow of flavors. Gulliver would definitely find these things in Brobdingnag."
We didn't take any carriage rides, but I often snapped pics of the horses.
Saint Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square
From farther away, where we sat eating our beignets...
...from Cafe Du Monde

Oh geez, more horses.
But it's better than the "So Good" stores, right? See below.
If it wasn't fuschia, it was the animal print.We saw three of these scary stores.

The taxidermied alligator enticing you to consume.
Can't have the real thing? How about marble? Antique row of shops

Famous Cornstalk Hotel
We did not stay here

The swanky Hotel Monteleone. We didn't stay here, either.
More buildings should look like wedding cakes on steroids, IMHO.
Home base, in the French Quarter, but at a nice, calm remove from...

...Bourbon Street. Where Homer Simpsons with inflated balloon penises walk and bars announce: BIG ASS BEER.
All for now. Coming up: buskers, monkey floats, food comas and cemeteries.

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