A Local’s Guide to a “Whole Differnent World” in New Orleans
- NOLA -What the locals call New Orleans. Short for the abbreviated, New Orleans. –Louisiana.
- New Orleans- pronounced Or-lenz. There is no lean in Orleans. Sometimes called Nawlins. 🙂
This has been a blog post several years in the making. Louisiana will always have a special place in my heart. It’s where I started out on my own. After calling southern Louisiana home for 5+ years, I feel that I’ve earned my stripes as a local. Though I don’t actually live inside of New Orleans, I’ve made countless trips here, I live about an hour outside of New Orleans. It really is a different world inside of the city. I’d like to share a few things that I’ve learned along the way.
Welcome to the City:
Whether you get to the city via plane or car, something hits you as soon as you enter the outskirts. Lake Pontchartrain stretches infinitely. The cypress trees in the shallows of the lake give the brackish waters a haunted feel.
It’s a perfect view right as the sun is going down. Welcome to New Orleans . . . If you can’t hang with the big dogs– then stay on the porch.
The lake is a nursery for mother Bull Sharks and their pups. People often try to deny this shark fact because they love the lake for recreational purposes. . . it’s cognitive dissonance at it’s best. Locals often fish under the long Causeway bridge for crabs. If you look far into the distance you can see the industrial plant city of Norco shining.
The People, the Culture:
The culture is the memory that you will take back with you to wherever you have come from. It’s a vibe. Stop on the street at some point, and try to feel it. Southern hospitality knows no bounds here. The people embrace a “work hard, play harder” mentality. People are legitimately happy to be alive, they use any occasion as an excuse to celebrate — and when i say celebrate, I mean CELEBRATE. I’ve brought many a newcomers to this city, sometimes it’s a strange experience. It will be unlike anything that you have ever seen. The people are tough. They’ve survived formidable and infamous obstacles. As a demonstration of their tough-ness, listen for the proverbial phrase: “Hey, how ya doin’?” when greeted by a counter clerk who won’t make eye-contact; it will be accompanied by a head nod. A rather mob-esq phrase, they don’t really want to know how you’re doing, they just want you to know that they are taking a little bit of extra effort to make you feel welcome to their establishment. This strikes me as a cultural phenomena.
Generally speaking, the locals are devoutly religious in their Christian faith. It’s hard to pick up on this because of the atmosphere of the French Quarter. This is the sin-city of the south. The locals will welcome you to their city with warm smiles, casual conversations, and open arms.
Pad Your Stomach
You need to EAT. Pad your stomach, because let’s face it… you probably came to drink. Even if you didn’t come to drink, you will probably do so at some point. The drinks are stronger than the
storm winds that batter the city. To avoid turning this into a sloppy sht-show stuff your face with some carbohydrates. You need a poyboy!! Stop at Parkway Bakery in Midtown. The sandwiches are so good that Barrack Obama himself has stopped in to try one. The best on the menu … The Surf & Turf… a 6 inch ( or footling) mouthwatering portion of plump fried shrimp and homemade roast. Order it SLOPPY WITH GRAVY. The clerk will ask you if you want it dressed.
- [dressed- adj. having vegetables: lettuce, tomato, pickles, & lots of mayo]
Here’s the site: “http://kodeless.com/mobile/index.php?clientID=446&pass=994578#screen1“>
Another option… in the Carrolton/Uptown neighborhood you can also dine at THE BEST RESTAURANT IN TOWN. You’ll spot Jaques-Imo’s by the cute brightly painted swamp truck outside.
Locals wait in line for hours to eat at the chef’s perfect nook in the city. It’s funky fine dining at it’s finest. Bring a 6 pack to share with friends on the sidewalk while you wait in line for your 4 course meal. (There is no such thing as an open container law in the city). Taste the appetizer mystery of addictive Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake.
Addictive. Addictive. My favorite food to eat, ever. Enjoy the chef’s southern hospitality as his staff brings around free tastings of desert. You’ll remember this experience for the rest of your life. Soak in the funky vibe… this funk is the city heartbeat. Come as you are, everyone is accepted. I’ve found NFL coaches in this place. It’s legit good. The hours of the restaurant are strange so look online to make sure that they are open http://jacques-imos.com“>Jacques-Imo’s best food in NOLA. They’re only open at night and they’re closed on Sundays.
Either one of these eateries will help you gain a couple of pounds. Poboys will be cheap, while Jacques-Imos will be funky. Both are delicious.
The French Quarter:
After you’ve ate your fill, head to the French Quarter in the late afternoon. Take in the architecture. Look for waterlines about head high from previous flooding. Despite the name, French Quarter, the architectural design of the balconies actually originated in Spain. Jackson Square is gorgeous. Buy some street art, listen to the trumpet players on the street. This is the soul. Gawk at the fortune tellers, the voodoo shops, and the bold street performers.
Be careful where you park. If the area looks sketchy… then it will be all the worse at night. This is not a place to be lackadaisical. Be aware. Shootings and robberies happen daily in the Quarter. Walk with your head high and your shoulders back, like you own the street. Act as sober as possible in the street to avoid being a target. You’re going to have to walk for a couple of blocks. There may be gangs posted up against walls. If someone try’s to talk to you… don’t acknowledge them and keep on walking. Don’t wear clothes that make you look like a tourist (vacation or college t-shirts). Trust me, you want to lie low. There is strength in numbers. Ladies, leave your heels and flip flops at home. The streets give a new meaning to the word filthy. I have seen many a people who have fallen into holes in the street and succumbed to broken legs. The city is almost 300 years old, the streets are not in the best conditions. I’ve seen sinkholes in the middle of roads big enough to swallow a car. Tread lightly.
Stand up on a balcony. Observe the diverse people who tread below you, some locals, some tourists.Most importantly–no self respecting lady would ever show her boobies for some chinky beads. Those Mardi Grass beads cost about 3 cents to make. They’re meant to be trinkets for children at parades. Think of them as candy. Would you reveal your breasts for a couple of peppermints at a parade? Didn’t think so. Females from the northern states give themselves a bad name when they come down here and can’t handle their alcohol. Keep em covered.
- [Chinky– adj. cheap, small, worthless, unimpressive, usually used in reference to beads or clothing]
Let loose on Bourbon. What you’re looking for is a hand grenade, a large drink sold in a lime green container from Tropical Isle. A mystery mix of sweet alcohol. Think trash can punch (or Jungle Juice) for adults. 1 of these will be enough for you to be ready to have a good time. 2 of these… and you will be the person on the corner laying in a pile of vomit and urine that is not yours. Don’t even get me started on the time that we lost a friend in the mob of people. Hand grenades: limit–1.
A great place for a sing along piano duel–(my favorite bar)– Pat O’Brein’s (aka:Pat Os). Hurricanes are the thing to drink here.
- ” ‘Bout it, ‘Bout it“- phrase, as in “that’s what’s up”; as in “all about it”, you really liked it.
Example: “Girrrrl, I inhaled that Alligator Cheesecake”
Response: “Yes ma’am you were ’bout it, ’bout it”.
Interpretation: She really liked the cheesecake.
An exciting variation of English.
Bourbon in a Nutshell:
Watch a crazy girl ride the mechanical bull at Bourbon Cowboy. This is probably the same girl mentioned with the chinky beads. Upstairs at Bourbon Cowboy they have 3 for 1 wells and beer. The Cats Meow has karaoke. Be careful on your walk back to the hotel or car.
Congratulations if you’ve made it this far without any mishaps.
Sleep late in the morning.For breakfast head over to Cafe Du Monde for beignets.
- [Beignets- noun. Fried dough with powdered sugar. Best when accompanied with coffee and views overlooking the Mississippi River.]
Mardi Grass is unbelievable. The best parade is Endymion. http://www.endymion.org“>. An unfamiliar sight might be the ladders that locals bring to parades. They design seats for their children atop the ladders. This is so the children have a chance to catch the goodies first. The city also has several great parades for St. Patricks Day.
Also, an extremely strange sight to newcomers . . . the above ground vaults that can be seen while driving on the outskirts of town. Loved ones are buried above ground because of the ground saturation. They even dance at funerals around here.
The locals really get revved up when the Saints play at home. Drew Brees is considered to be a saint himself, a real one.
- [“Laissez les bontemps roule” – phrase. Let the good times roll.]
Lastly, if anyone ever comes up to you and says “I bet I know where you got your shoes”, they are not going to name some sort of department store. They won’t say Macy’s. So just tell them that your shoes are “on my feet, baby”. It’ll save you the haggle of “betting” anyone, anything.
What the City Teaches You:
- We’ve all got our problems, but we’re working them out.
- Old is beautiful.
- Live without reservations.
- Celebrate like it’s your last day on Earth.
If you have any ideas for what to do, “all things New Orleans” you can drop a line here.