April 28, 2008

N'awlins Redux

Greetings from New Orleans. We drove down here on Saturday morning for a couple days of work and a couple days of play. I wrote about a trip that we made here back in September and it was obvious that we had a pretty rough week. The combination of excessive heat, a baby that wasn’t sleeping, and a city that was eerily quiet, nearly undid us.

At the time, New Orleans seemed a forgotten city. And while I know almost nothing about the subject, things seem a little more alive this time around. Much of it may have to do with the weather (nothing above 80) and time of year. However, looking back I seem to remember being overwhelmed by the task at hand. Annie was 10 weeks old and could barely function. The heat was dangerous for her and that limited us to very short stints outside. Cabin fever settled on us heavily while we were cooped up in our little hotel room.

This time around we are out and about and there are thousands of others joining us. Any city’s streets are more welcoming when teeming with people, even if most of them are wearing t-shirts tucked into their shorts, stacked on top of white rumpled socks and Reeboks. Their collective pasty kneed reflections are cause enough for sunglasses. How is it possible that this is the traveling American man’s costume de rigueur, no matter the city?

In keeping with family tradition, this weekend’s itinerary has been centered on food. We had hoped to go someplace “special,” but little Annie has not been the best behaved baby when surrounded by other people eating. We have been trying to teach her the sign for “more,” but most times she simply slams her hands on the table and yells. Funny, this works too. Instead, we decided to eat in a more homey fashion.

On Sunday morning we went to Elizabeth’s for breakfast and stuffed ourselves with, as the sign says, “real food done real good.” The sign is right. I had crab cake eggs benedict with grits, and get this, praline bacon. Incidentally, I’m a pray-line guy, while most down here say praw-lines. Kristen dutifully chose fried green tomato eggs benedict with hash browns. If any of you northerners are wondering what praline bacon is, I’m glad. It comes down to bacon (yum) covered in crushed pecans and caramelized sugar (yum). Simple, fattening, frighteningly delicious.

Sunday evening was marked by another New Orleans classic. We went to Acme Oyster House for, well, oysters. My guess is that there are hole-in-the-wall places that serve better, more authentic food. But who could pass up the chance to eat oysters (none for mom), gumbo, jambalaya and hush puppies, all while looking out at The Hustler Club? New Orleans, if nothing else, is very accepting of vices. It’s a great town, although the two men that were holding up huge signs in Jackson Square detailing the top 20 signs that you may love the Devil would beg to differ. My personal favorite was “loud mouthed woman.” Nice.

We woke up this morning after an uninterrupted night’s sleep and said goodbye to mom as she trudged off to the courthouse. Naturally, Annie and I took advantage of our alone time by walking a few blocks over cobbled streets and glinting patches of sun to Café Du Monde for beignets and au laits. What was I saying about that line I’ve been straddling?


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