The culture and history of New Orleans
Beignets and chicory coffee, jazz music and jazzed-up cocktails, a city of art, architecture, and a whole lotta action – there’s no single reason why culture vultures from around the world flock to New Orleans – because there are so many. This historical The city is as vibrant as it ever was and the kindhearted communities on both sides of the Mississippi are ready and waiting to embrace those who want to get lost in the cultural capital of the South.
All the ingredients for a good time
Outsiders may know New Orleans as a melting pot of culture, but locals know that it’s more akin to a seafood boil or a hearty gumbo. Countless cultures, including the Acadians, Cajuns, Creoles, African-Americans, Native Americans, French and Spaniards have all added their own flavour to the pot. The beauty of New Orleans’ diversity is that, not unlike each local’s gumbo and crawfish boils, no two parts of the city are exactly the same.
You’ll find the birthplace of jazz in Tremé, a neighbourhood that proudly flaunts its roots as one of the first African-American neighbourhoods in the country. The Irish Channel is certainly worthy of a pitstop for a pint before an obligatory visit to the French Quarter’s bars. The Garden District is a favourite spot to spy the diverse architectural staples of centuries gone by, while the Warehouse District’s old industrial lots are being transformed into trendy museums, galleries and cafes for the contemporary crowd.
As if the dozens of neighbourhoods didn’t add enough diversity to the city, you’ll discover that even many of the streets themselves have a unique identity. World-famous Bourbon Street’s bars and live zydeco bands speak for themselves. Julia Street is also Known by the moniker “Gallery Row” thanks to its countless art galleries. Antique collectors arrive on Royal Street keen on scouring the many vintage shops, while Magazine Street hangs its reputation on its miles of eclectic boutiques, cosy cafes and quiet restaurants.
It may be a fair bit older than the coeds who call it home, but Maple Street’s proximity to the universities make it one of the hippest areas of town. Fulton Street’s small block-long pedestrian space is quickly becoming a preferred haunt for locals who know the busyness of Canal Street all too well. From St Charles to St Claude and every avenue in between, there’s excitement around every corner that may very well leave you literally dancing in the streets.
A taste of old and new
Creole is an identity, first and foremost, and one of the best ways to make acquaintance with the history and culture of the earliest settlers is through food. Taste any Creole dish and you can trace its flavours to more than one part of the world. West African, Caribbean, European, and Latin American cultures have all contributed to this unique New Orleanian cuisine.
Sazerac House is a state-of-the-art combination of history, tradition, interactive exhibits and peerless cocktail experiences. It’s home to the eponymous New Orleans cocktail, which comprises Sazerac rye whiskey, a bit of Herbsaint and a few dashes of Peychaud’s bitters , and is served in an Old-Fashioned glass.
No one will look twice at a visitor making a bar menu into a meal, but you’d regret not gorging on some of the best Creole food in the city. The Creole House is within sight of Sazerac House for a big easy offering of Creole stuffed fish. A teetering stack of prestigious James Beard Awards should be enough to convince you to make reservations at Commander’s Palace, Arnaud’s or Brigtsen’s.
Of course, the rich diversity of New Orleans’ food scene means that classic dishes such as jambalaya are just as readily available as more contemporary Creole fare. Dat Dog lets you top your sausage with crawfish etouffee (a classic Louisiana dish with a buttery, rich, sauce and heaps of fresh crawfish tails) and Creole mustard, while the New Orleans Creole Cookery pairs its live jazz bands with elevated plates of catfish decatur and Creole pastas. Or you could simply take hold of a spatula at a cooking class and whip up your own Creole creation.
For more information, go to NewOrleans.com