Today we made great strides towards my goal of eating everything in New Orleans, or at least a representative sample thereof. We started with begniets at Cafe Du Monde, which is a large, mostly outdoor cafe with the menu printed on a sticker on the napkin dispenser. The begniets were good, even if we did both end up covered in powdered sugar. As we were leaving from breakfast, the bells in the cathedral across the square started going off like crazy. It wasn’t on the hour, and there didn’t seem to be a service going on, and it was a while before we (okay, Mom) figured out that maybe they had announced a new Pope. And sure enough, when we got to the historic house we wanted to tour, all of the employees and some of the visitors were gathered around a tv in the beck of the gift shop, watching the Benedict the sixteenth being introduced. Then, later, when we were on the steamboat getting ready to leave the dock (more on that in a minute) the woman on the intercom mentioned it, along with the information on what to do in case of an emergency, and please don’t sit on or lean of the railings.
The other major activity of the day involved me dragging Mom around some more on my semi-obsessive quest to find vintage mardi gras beads. We started at a bead store, which seemed logical enough. They didn’t have any, but the very chatty young woman who was minding th store and eating her lunch told us, in between describing how her theater troupe had won two awards at a ceremony the night before, that she thought a place down on Barraks and Decatur, called ‘Le Garage’ might have them. So we went over there and found that it was accurately named; a junk shop in an actual garage. The guy there didn’t have any, but he thought the store across the street might. So we went across the street and, sure enough, in the middle of another cluttered little junk shop, there was a wire rack with a bunch of necklaces and a sign saying ‘Glass Mardi Gras Bead, pre- and post-WWII. I bought a couple, plus a broken string of beads and the little old man who was running the shop gave me random discounts on the prices and made change out of his wallet. Mission accomplished.
After all that shopping and old-house-seeing, it was time for lunch. One of the things on our to-eat list was a po’ boy, another indigenous sandwich, so we found a place in the guidebook that was nearby (Johnny’s Po’ Boys) and headed over there. We ordered a shrimp po’ boy, which is fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato and mayonaise on a french roll, and split it between us. It was good, and better with ketchup.
After lunch we decided to take the aforementioned steamboat tour on the Mississippi. There are a couple of boats that do them, so we chose ours after carefully considering which one was directly across the street from where we were standing. That settled, we bought our tickets and headed out on the river. The Mississippi River near New Orleans is not exactly the charming and pastoral scene one might expect. In fact, it is a busy working port with a lot of heavy industry and, aside from a memorial to the Battle of New Orleans (one of history’s most pointless wastes of life, since it was fought two weeks after the war was over), there is verry little of historical intrest to be seen along its banks. Still, it was cool to do, if only to say that I’ve been on a steamboat on the Mississippi. I am a tourist, after all.
For dinner, we had crawfish. Lots and lots of crawfish. Crawfish bisque, etouffee, jambalaya, omlette and newberg (the restaurant had a combination plate) and fried crawfish with dipping sauce. We feel that we have sufficiently done crawfish. Then we went and walked on Bourbon Street again and I shocked Mom by declaring that we were going to get drinks in ‘go-cups’ so that we would fit in with the crowd and, when she resisted, walking into one of the take-out bars and ordering one. I got a hurricaine, which is supposed to be the local drink. It tastes like cherry Robitussin on ice. While we were walking along, we were accosted by a middle-aged lady who said we ‘weren’t partying enough’ cited us, gave us hats and told us we owed her ten dollars a hat (not in so many words) she also said she was part of a group of local teachers and they were raising money for meals on wheels, so we made the donation. In return, we got little recipe books that we didn’t really look at. Later on, when we were back in our room, I looked it over and noticed that on the cover it said that it was for ‘eating the Hari Krishna way’. That’s right: we gave money to the Hari Krishnas. Sorry about that. It’s just the kind of wild and crazy thing that happens to you in New Orleans.