Enjoy the Big Easy – New Orleans
Article by Lawrence Reaves
New Orleans is a fusion of so many influences that it is impossible to say where one influence starts and another one ends – cultures and creeds have become so intertwined they are not readily distinguishable and the very best of every world is there to sample, delight in and to enjoy.
The Mississippi River forms a crescent cut out of the high ground within which is found Vieux Carre – the French Quarter or to locals, known simply as the Quarter. Residents here know how to live and take it easy with the important things in life – partying is not an event so much as a way of life! While there are other interesting districts to go explore, the French Quarter is the heart of New Orleans and the rest of the city dances to the beat of this thriving, eclectic and energetic morass of people and the constant stream of events and happenings.
It is easy to fall under the spell of the Quarter and you will find yourself in good company with notable writers and artists such as Mark Twain and John James Audubon finding themselves ensnared. What makes the French Quarter so alluring cannot be laid at the foot of any single thing – to say the District is a vibrant fusion is an understatement.
Wherever you look and whatever you sample, eclectism is found everywhere – simply look at the buildings and you will find Spanish tiled buildings with French style facades and porticos replete with private courtyards offering cool places to party cool as in temperature but also as in very cool stylishly. The District breeds an ambience and spirit all of its own and it is the people who have created this – take away the people and the Quarter would die.
Music forms a major part of life in New Orleans and the Quarter with outstanding musicians living here as well as throughout more distant time – New Orleans most famous musical son, Louis Armstrong was immensely influenced by the city and especially the jazz played everywhere but particularly the French Quarter. New Orleans may be known as the birthplace of jazz but it is not the only music in town – blues, Creole, Cajun, with independent and artistic interpretation and themes abounding and all feeding off each other leading to further development of musical forms.
Food is another area where the Quarter and New Orleans shines through with Spanish, Creole, French, Cajun and as many other different styles of cuisine as you can count making their presence felt and providing ample reason for expanding waistlines. It is very usual to find restaurants offering a fusion or independent interpretation of culinary creativity competing for patrons side-by-side – it is not simply the style of food but taste preferences as well with full blown menus for carnivores, vegetarians, seafood fans and Vegans.
The French Quarter is also where the world famous Mardi Gras Carnival takes place but it is not simply the March 3rd party and frolics which actually dominates, it is the plethora of organizations and semi-social gatherings which take place throughout the year as “Krewes” compete with each other to arrange the best marching interpretation on the theme chosen by Rex – the King of the Carnival. Partying is an important social activity here in the Quarter and you can spend any number of evenings drifting from one courtyard to another and enjoying the huge number of social gatherings and parties taking place until you find what you are looking for.