Believe me when I tell you that New Orleans is the most fascinating and interesting places in the United States. I grew up in New York City, lived in San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Denver, Portland and Cuernavaca, but there is no place that feels more like home than New Orleans.
I moved to New Orleans when I was 23 years old and lived there for 5 1/2 years. I bought a fabulous bargeboard shotgun house that had a small front porch, a garden with banana trees and was only a few feet away from a trolley barn in Uptown. I loved the ding-ding-ding of the trolley bells and the sound of the trolley coming down the tracks.
I moved to New Orleans for law school, which was probably a mistake academically since I wasn't the most mature 23 year old and was too enticed by the city's nightlife (and I really never wanted to be a lawyer), but I don't regret my time there. Not for one minute.
The city of New Orleans is complex: French, Creole and Spanish influences are strongly felt in many of the city's historic neighborhoods and the vestiges of slavery, segregation and post-war Reconstruction have clearly left their mark on the city in terms of poverty, class and equality. And there is crime. But there is also a tremendous warmth in the city, a colorfulness, a rhythm, a uniqueness and an energy that really can't be matched anywhere else in the United States.
Every year around this time I get a very intense longing for "The City That Care Forgot." I miss the beads, the music, the pageantry, the parades, the Indians, the oak trees, the drinking and the crowds. I love New Orleans. And I love New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
I decided to post these pictures from our most recent trip to the Big Easy, just 12 hours after my husband and I got married in New York. We decided to take that trip because we love the city and it's also where we met. We walked the streets, got lost in the Marigny, sat on the porch at our Bed & Breakfast and heard some great music on the city's street corners.
While I can't get to New Orleans this year for Mardi Gras, rest assured I will be eating some Chocolate-Oatmeal Moon Pies*, trying to find Baby Jesus in a King Cake and putting back a Sazerac...or two! Happy Mardi Gras.
*Recipe courtesy of Cochon, a great New Orleans restaurants that serves up one of my favorite desserts...second only to the Creole Bread Pudding with Warm Whiskey Sauce at Commander's Palace.