|Julian in Jackson Square|
Creole or Cajun?Cajuns were the French colonists who settled the Canadian maritime provinces (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) in the 1600s. The settlers named their region "Acadia," and were known as Acadians. The name "Acadian" eventually became known as "Cajun." They developed their own distinct lifestyle in the swamps and surrounding areas of South Louisiana.
Creoles as an ethnic group are harder to define than Cajuns. "Creole" can mean anything from individuals born in New Orleans with French and Spanish ancestry to those who descended from African/Caribbean/French/Spanish heritage.
Both groups have contributed greatly to the local cuisine. A simplified way to describe the two cuisines is to deem Creole cuisine as fancier “city food” while Cajun cuisine is often referred to as rural “country food.” While many of the ingredients in Cajun and Creole dishes are similar, the real difference between the two styles is the people behind these famous cuisines and their preparation and presentation techniques.
|Carnival Parade Costumes Based on Historical Tribal Wear|
TouringThere are many things to see and do in New Orleans, and I'll just give you a few highlights. Get a good tour book before you go and review all of your options.
French Quarter: Of course you can't miss the French Quarter. Travel down Royal Street on foot and enjoy the many shops, most all of them local. Parallel to Royal is the famous Bourbon Street, home to the city's night life. There isn't too much going on here during the day, but some shops are interspersed and it's a good time to take photos or enjoy an buggy ride with guide, which you can catch in nearby Jackson Square.
|Classic French Quarter Design|
Tremé and Louis Armstrong Park: The French Quarter borders North Rampart and Louis Armstrong Park, and is adjacent to America's oldest black neighborhood called Tremé . As the area is the site of significant economic, cultural, political, social, and legal events that shaped the course of events in Black America for the past two centuries, I suggest you get a local guide to walk you through the neighborhood and park. The guide will describe all of the significant events, buildings and architecture in the area, making your foot tour more meaningful.
|Julian and Louis Armstrong|
|Tourist Cruise on the Mississippi|
Hotel, Dining and NightlifeLike touring, there really is too much to enjoy on the food and nightlife front to do all in one trip. So again, I'll give you my favorite highlights, but do your research before you go and plan accordingly.
|Brennan's Egg Sardou|
|My husband, Kevin, at Cafe Du Monde|
|Cafe Du Mond's Cafe au Lait and Beignets|
Chargrilled Oysters: There are at least a dozen restaurants famous for grilled oysters in New Orleans, and you should sample as many as possible. Some call them charbroiled and others chargrilled, but they are basically the same technique. Cooking oysters in their shells over a grill's fire, topped with some mixture of butter and garlic, seasoning and sometimes cheese, yields meat that is firmer but just as juicy as raw.
If you can get a seat with a view, the grilling itself is dramatic, becoming part of the show at places like Drago's and Neyow's Creole Café, where the grills sit in plain view of diners. If you're near the outlet shopping mall which connects to the Hilton hotel, Drago's is located inside the lobby. You can even have cocktails in the hotel lounge and order a platter of Drago's oysters mid-day, should you need a little refreshment. Highly recommended!
|Drago's Charbroiled Oysters|
|Kevin at Lagasse Foundation Fundraiser|
Other Local Favorites: Of course do make sure you have enough time to take in the many other local favorite foods. I don't know of any city in America with so many local specialties. Of course you must have the seafood and andouille sausage gumbo, blackened alligator, and a low-country crawfish boil. Fried chicken and jambalaya should also be on your menu.
As I said, there is much to sample in New Orleans. And while you're at it, there is live music of all kinds everywhere you turn. What could make the city more perfect!