My wife and I had been saving change in a jug since we got married.
Due to our lifestyle at the time, we never got to take a honeymoon. The next few years passed while I was traveling all over the world, my poor wife staying at home for weeks and months at a time. Bills, jobs and a sense of "grown-up responsibility" soon took over and soon we realized that we might never get to take that all too elusive honeymoon. We always said that for our ten year anniversary we would cash in the contents of the change jug, and go somewhere different, some place cool.
When we cashed in our jug we discovered that over the last ten years we had accumulated $1100 in change. This certainly wasn't enough to pay for a dream vacation to Ireland, and it wouldv'e been easy to slide that money over to bills, nevertheless we decided to hold true to our words.
We packed up our eleven month old daughter and headed off to the Big Easy!
Of course we arrived two weeks after the Superbowl, and only a few days after the end of Mardi Gras, but the place was still hopping. We didn't come to drink, party, or earn our weight in beads (though I'm sure my wife would have been much more successful than I) but instead to see some lost culture, and eat some different foods.
Our first day we decided on sharing a muffeleta for lunch, which is similar to Schlotsky's out here in Colorado, but so much better!!! It was a huge delicious sandwich, made with delectable cold cuts and smeared with a pickled olive type topping that truly defined the sandwich as awesome! We were told by some friends of ours that used to live in New Orleans that the only place to get a muffaleta in the French Quarter was a place called Central Grocery, which legend has it is the home of the heavenly sandwich.
The second day for lunch we decided on alligator po' boys, which is basically deep fried meat (I assume alligator) thrown into a roll. I was a bit disappointed, but what else could you expect from a sandwich called the po' boy? The batter was VERY salty and it overpowered the meat and the bread. We wound up eating the meat out of the middle like little chicken nuggets and relishing on the fact that we were eating alligator for lunch, I was pretty glad I didn't have to kill it and cook it myself.
The next morning we made the trek across the French Quarter for some beignets, which are little pastries, pretty close to sopapillas, covered in powdered sugar. My daughter enjoyed the sugar and the street vendors making balloon animals very much. The driver from the airport told us about Cafe Du Monde, which is on everyone's list when visiting the French Quarter, so we had to as well. He warned us to not wear dark colored clothing when we visited Cafe Du Monde, as the powdered sugar would be a dead giveaway all over our clothes. Of course, we forgot and of course, we were covered in powdered sugar, with a little help from my excited little girl.
My personal highlight of the trip was finally getting to try some crawfish. After fumbling around with them for awhile and performing a little impromptu crawfish show for my daughter (which as you can see in the picture received less than rave reviews) the proprietor came over and gave me some instruction on how to properly eat them, which includes sucking the juices out of their heads before or after eating the contents of the tail. It was like taking a shot of Cajun deliciousness after eating rock lobster. I thought it was one of the most unique things I had ever tasted. I think my wife preferred the gumbo.
Unfortunately, I have less than "a sophisticated palate", and the unique wonders of food had to occasionally take the back seat to a few of the foods I adore most in the world. Yes, health nuts beware, I am talking about Philly sandwiches and hot dogs!!
The Philly sandwich place I strolled into on a beautiful Monday morning was unfortunately out of peppers. Though disappointed I couldn't recall another Philly sandwich joint in the French Quarter, and had already walked a solid mile just trying to find this place. With it being located right on Bourbon Street I imagined it was picked clean during Mardi Gras and he hadn't yet received his restock of those little vegetables of evil. I am sad to report that a Philly cheese sandwich isn't as good without peppers, and even sadder to report that I had to spend $9.50 to find that out.
While my wife, daughter and I were strolling through Jackson Square we happened upon a hot dog cart. I have no fear of street vendors or the food they peddle, but couldn't help but notice after paying for our dogs that he accepted the money with the same glove on that he made our hot dogs with, that of course got me wondering if I had actually seen him put the glove on before he began making it... I figured since I had consumed far worse things in much less sanitary conditions over the years, that perhaps I would be O.K. Luckily my wife and I both survived, and my newly grown third nipple is quite a treat at parties!
The cuisine that we experienced while in the French Quarter was nothing less than spectacular, and it was a rare treat to be able to eat a different type of food that we had never tried for nearly every meal. If you have never been to the French Quarter I would of course highly recommend it. Here is a link to an informative website all about New Orleans' French Quarter appropriately named http://frenchquarter.com/ . If you have been to the French Quarter, but only recall brief moments of sobriety followed by some greasy eggs and a bloody mary, then I highly recommend that you go back and soak in a little culture and food.
Then get bombed.