Love to Louisiana

I’ve been to Louisiana twice, and have developed quite the soft spot for New Orleans. My heart goes out to the
residents of the city and the entire southern region affected by Katrina, as the difficult tasks of assessing damage
and rebuilding slowly begin. Here are some memories from my February 2005 visit to the Pelican State, which I hope
inspires others to plan future trips to the area:

We stayed in a grand home on the Esplanade, where the French Quarter meets the
Farbourg Marigny. Walking the streets, we discussed architecture and
noticed signs of spring — blooming magnolias, live oaks and banana trees. We stopped for brunch at
La Peniche, named after the disassembled
barge wood used to make the homes in the area. I feasted on chicken and andouille gumbo at
Arnaud’s, tasted a
muffuletta at Frank’s Restaurant, sipped
an Abita Turbodog, and polished off some beignets around midnight
at Cafe du Monde. We danced to James Brown at the Blues Cafe on Bourbon, and
waited an hour to hear the famous Dixie-land jazz band at Preservation
jam to Sweet Georgia Brown.

We left the city limits as well, visiting Brusly (Bru-lee), LA,
(population 2,000) along the Mississippi outside of Baton Rouge, where we stayed with local friends in their 1835
historic Creole cottage a block from the levee off of
River Road. We were treated to the trifecta of
southern cooking, a trinity meal, catfish style – salad, stew and pie. Dessert was homemade pecan pie and chocolate
cream pie with fresh strawberries on top, probably from Ponchatoula.
Before departing, we spent an hour wandering through
Beauregard Town, a historical section of
East Baton Rouge, and visited the tallest state
building in the nation, where Huey Long was shot.

The list of things I’d like to do on my next visit to Louisiana keeps growing: play video poker at a truck stop
casino, visit a sugar mill and sugarcane fields, eat pralines for breakfast, suck the meat out of the tail of a
crawfish shell without looking like a Yankee, spend more time checking out the nightlife on Frenchman Street and attend
Jazz Fest, which is slated for late April 2006.  I’m optimistic that the
spring music festival will take place as planned, and I hope that many folks consider heading south to the region as
soon the situation improves. They will really want us all to visit.