Top Ten Things I Learned in New Orleans

10) That the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, viewed Voodoo as an extension of Catholicism. I’ve never followed up with fact-checking from the Vatican, but I am thinking they are in disagreement.

9) That my favorite bar in the world is on the corner of Bourbon Street and St. Philip, and was built around 1722. It was used as a base for Jean Lafitte’s Barataria smuggling ring, and he is still hanging around haunting the place (The governor posted a $500 reward for the capture of Lafitte. Lafitte, in turn, posted a $1500 reward for the capture of the governor). The bartender pours strong drinks, and my date asked me out for another after finishing the very first one…

8) It has been said that the key ingredient to “The Best Sandwich in America” is the olive mix used in making the Muffaletta, but I beg to differ. The key ingredient to ANY sandwich is the bread, and with the wrong bread, even “The Best Sandwich in America” is not yummy.

7) Cafe Du Monde IS the best place in the world for beignets. I am in the midst of happily researching the best recipe I can find for these..

6) That at 3 am it is possible to order food for delivery, get caught in a crowd in the streets, and listen to more drama outside the hotel room window than you would find in a Broadway show. But at 10 am it can be tough to find an open restaurant, the streets are empty, and the sun shines down on a quiet French Quarter.

5) There was never actually a canal built on or near Canal Street. They planned one, but evidently decided it wasn’t a good idea. After they named the street.

4) That a funeral should have the most festive jazz music played by a parade of people who loved you, dancing down Bourbon Street and smiling under the sunshine.

3) That red beans and rice out of a box are to authenticity what modern day politicians are to upholding the ideals of our nation. No comparison.

2) That the three leaves on the fleur de lis represented the three social classes of medieval times: those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed.

1) That there is no experience in the world like sitting on a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street with the best company in the world, eating Cajun and Creole food, listening to music from the bar below, watching magicians, transvestites, travelers, locals, musicians and dancers while deciding if it should be key lime pie, king cake, or bananas Foster for dessert.

 Mardi Gras Creole Jambalya

2 tablespoons of butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper,chopped
6 green onions, chopped
2 stalks of chopped celery
1 lb cooked cubed ham
1 lb Andouille sausage, cut up
8 oz tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
5 cups of cooked long grain rice

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add onion, pepper, green onion, and celery (I switch out the green pepper for a red pepper, due to a lifetime ban I’ve placed on eating green peppers) and saute. Add the ham, sausage, tomato sauce, salt, black and red peppers and cook for a little while (5 minutes?), and then stir in the long grain rice and simmer it all together for one half hour. Garnish it with parsley if you’d like.

Laissez les bons temps rouler.

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