Celebrating Our Culture
New Orleans: A Crescent-Shaped Gem of the Deep South
By Raymond Pregeant
A mule-drawn carriage takes you along a narrow bricked street; the slow rhythmic clicking sound of hooves keeping you in time with the quiet unwavering pace of the indifferent locals. Pastel Spanish and French Caribbean-style homes lie cluttered together on either side, with hardly enough room to fit a banana tree, or even a small iron grate fence, between them. You've got your camera. You've got your maps. You've got your summer clothes. You've got your...beer bong?
Sometimes compared to European cities, sometimes called just plain "unique", but always called "interesting", the city of New Orleans is nestled in a crescent-shaped bend of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, not far from where the delta empties the largest river in the U.S. into the Gulf of Mexico. It hosts the most popular annual street party in the country, traditionally known as Mardi Gras. Your curiosity can lead you into the French Quarter, where thousands of partygoers gather on Bourbon Street. Costumed drunks dance between light poles, while multi-colored transvestites prance in full flavor to jazz beats and funky horn ensembles. Nudity is almost expected, as people from all walks of life bring their inner child/freak to the surface for a full week of craziness and all-out hedonism. Maybe you should leave the kids at home. Maybe not.
If partying isn't always your forte, there's still plenty to do in the "Big Easy." From the art galleries on Julia Street, to the antique shops of Magazine Street in the Garden District, to the designer clothing stores on Canal Street Downtown: plenty of shopping! If you do have kids, there’s the Audubon Zoo, the Aquarium of the Americas/IMAX theater complex, as well as the Children's Museum, a playland of education and entertainment.
The rich cultural history and mysticism that surround the city also fascinate many that come to visit. Jackson Square, near the nation's oldest Catholic Cathedral, St. Louis Cathedral, is a wide-open courtyard adorned with fortune tellers and portrait painters eager to paint your likeness for a price. For the more adventurous at heart, there are tours through the Old French Quarter at night. These tours give you a glimpse into an underworld that involves voodoo curses, ghosts of angry slaves, and bizarre tales of the many eccentric people who have shaped New Orleans into a place of mysterious decadence.
But the one thing that most people like about the city is...the food! One look at a menu will have you wondering if you've migrated to another continent! Being located almost entirely surrounded by water and mere miles from Acadiana, The restaurants of New Orleans have developed an eclectic mixture of flavorful Cajun seafood and Creole dishes. New Orleans' "cuisine scene" had impressed New York Chef Emeril Lagasse so much, he decided he had to open two restaurants in the city; Emeril's and Del Monico.
From Cajun cooking to voodoo queens, and Bourbon Street to Magazine, The New Orleans experience is an adventure that everyone needs to indulge in at least once!
Ray Pregeant is an aspiring journalist in the New Orleans area. He is currently seeking a degree in Media Arts from Tulane University. He writes articles, short stories, poetry, and songs. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
© 2002, Ray Pregeant, All Rights Reserved