Tag: New Orleans

Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras Beads hanging from tree and fence
Beads adorning a house and tree in New Orleans, Louisiana

As an individual raised in a family that attended church on a regular basis, I celebrate religious holidays. So Lent, Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday are no exceptions. However, as a child I celebrated Lent differently than I do now.

Lent is the 40 days before Easter. Of course, there are more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday-the start of Lent and Easter Sunday. But apparently SOME days don’t count. The purpose of Lent is fasting. A religious fasting, not a diet fasting. (Fasting as a diet is a trend.)

Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is also Fat Tuesday. But I confuse Mardi Gras with the entire Carnival season. I think I am too old to enjoy the debauchery of a New Orleans Mardi Gras. But, the city definitely knows how to usher in Lent! Mardi Gras Day parades in the New Orleans area started this morning at 8:00 a.m. If you happen to be in New Orleans visit my NOLA blog post for some good restaurant recommendations.

Fat Tuesday-Deadline for Resolution

I began sacrificing during Lent in college. Before that, Lent was a countdown to Easter, but the churches we attended did not emphasize the fasting. Then, I attended a Catholic college and thus adopted the tradition of giving up something for Lent. Upon moving to the town where I now live, we chose to raise our family in a Protestant church that also observes sacrificing during Lent.

Most of the time I have no trouble deciding what to give up during Lent. Many years it has been some form of sugar. Last year, in no small part due to reading The Case Against Sugar, I gave up all sugars. The year before, I gave up stress. Tough for someone with a Type A personality. Both years were eye-opening.

However, this year I am procrastinating. So much so that I re-read my post on procrastination. It reminded me that I can reduce stress by making a decision. Additionally, I asked for input on one of my social networking accounts. The two replies suggested adding something or reducing time spent on social media. Well, it was my first post in 2019 so I don’t think I am spending too much time there. Maybe not enough, since I missed the birth of a child to someone I hold dear.

Time is running out. Since I consider Lent as a time of improvement as well as sacrifice, I plan to add something to each day. Missing the news of a little ones arrival hits home at just how reclusive I have become. So during each day of Lent I plan to reach out and touch base with someone I care about. Especially if I have not communicated with that person in a while.

I will even jump the gun and start on Fat Tuesday. This commitment has lots of flexibility. I can pick up the phone, drop a note via snail mail or direct message someone. But it will be a different someone for 40 days. Who knows? Maybe I will invite one of you over to dinner. I am now looking forward to the challenge of Lent.

New Orleans: Not Just Nocturnal Fun

Recently I spent some time in the wonderful city of New Orleans. I can’t remember how many times I have stayed there nor just how young I was on my first visit. I can tell you there are few places in this world with the combination of great food and great music.

Music

New Orleans music is food for the soul. Strolling through the French Quarter or visiting Jackson Square gives one plenty of opportunity to listen to music without spending a dime. I am including snippets of music from this visit along with pictures. Just click on the highlighted jazz references below to access the video. The newest twist to the street music is the use of five gallon plastic buckets as drums. The mostly young drummers still managed to rake in some money with their upbeat music.

In addition to music on the street is music in the bars. Quite a few of the Bourbon Street locations sport bands which during the week don’t necessarily have a cover charge. If the madness of this famous street is too much, I suggest a slight jaunt down to Frenchman Street. The bars are low-key and the music is great.

Jackson Square Jazz Video

Two other venues are also good places for music. The first is a bit touristy. The Natchez, a riverboat with docks near Jackson Square offers jazz cruises up to three times a day. One can opt out of buying the meal for a considerable savings.
My second recommendation is a favorite with the locals. Rock-N-Bowl is a fun combination of bowling alley, bar and stage for bands. I love going there but if you want to bowl you may need to reserve a lane the day before. This nightspot is away from the French Quarter but worth the drive.

French Quarter Jazz Video

Food

Food and NOLA are synonymous in my mind. I cannot picture one without the other. Fish, crawdads, steaks, beignets, alligator, poor boys, pizza, and gumbo are just a few of the goodies. This past visit included shrimp and grits, alligator, lamb, crab cakes and steak. The only thing I did not eat was sweets.

There are so many great restaurants it is hard to go wrong. Top spots this last visit were Red Fish Grill and Bourbon House both on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter and Jacques-Imos over on Oak Street. The drive to Jacques-Imos is worth it. Reservations are recommended for the first two. Jacques-Imos only takes reservations for parties of five or more.

At the Red Fish Grill, I loved the shrimp and grits and the scattering of popcorn as a garnish added some crunch. Both my dinner partners ordered the entire fish entrée. I just try not to look at the eyes. This was a repeat visit to the restaurant and every bit as enjoyable as the first time.

Bourbon House was packed so we elected to eat at the bar. The service was outstanding. Oysters were the appetizers followed by good size salads. We split the Petit Filets and I’m not sure when I have had a better flavored steak. I give high marks to Bourbon House and I didn’t even try the fine selection of bourbon.

Jacques-Imos was fun. We waited almost an hour but I was in great company and the time passed quickly. We walked through the kitchen to reach our table and I couldn’t take my eyes off the cheesecake; Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake. The dish was out of this world.

Royal Street

My favorite daytime activity is strolling down Royal Street. If I lived within driving distance, I am sure my pocket-book would be a bit lighter. The antique stores on this street are only surpassed by the art galleries. I love looking in all the shops on this wonderful street just a block away from the debauchery of Bourbon. Service in the various shops meets the typical New Orleans standard; superb. Some of the shops you might want to pop into include Royal Antiques, Sutton Galleries and Jack Sutton.

Other neat shops and restaurants are sprinkled throughout the quarter. One favorite spot of my travelling partner was the Cigar Factory. The location on Decatur Street gives one a chance to watch skilled employees as they roll cigars. For those who don’t smoke, the ventilation is good if you just want to look in and watch the work.

A caveat or two for the mature traveler. The drum beats resonating from the five gallon pails along Bourbon Street lasted long after my bedtime. I suggest travelling with earplugs or choosing a hotel a few blocks away. Secondly, don’t cram too much into your schedule. Take your time and visit with the locals. Long-time residents of New Orleans have much to share.

National World War II Museum

While I was unable to make a repeat visit to the National World War II Museum this visit, I did want to include a brief mention. Since I was raised by a military historian and an art fanatic, I have visited a good number of museums in this country and a few overseas. I rank the World War II museum in New Orleans in the top five. The museum is easily accessible from the French Quarter via a short trolley car trip. If you only plan to visit New Orleans once in your life put this museum at the top of the must see list.

  • Group of skeletons on balcony.
    Watching from the balcony.