My turn

There's so much more than beignets in New Orleans

2013-03-14T00:00:00Z There's so much more than beignets in New OrleansBy Gayle Faulkner-Kosalko Times Columnist nwitimes.com
March 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

In 1807, Madame Laporte, a free wealthy woman of color, built a typically French Creole cottage in the Faubourg Marigny district of New Orleans, La.

It is the oldest building in the district and 206 years later was our vacation home while we visited the Crescent City last week. Every evening as we returned from the French Quarter and opened the iron gate into our tropical front courtyard, I felt like we were on a movie set.

The 10-foot tall French doors and windows, fireplaces in every room, antiques and shabby chic décor were incredible. We found this true New Orleans treasure on Vacation Rental by Owner.

The last time we visited New Orleans was 34 years ago and I’m happy to report that not much has changed. Jackson Square is still filled with artists, clever street entertainers, and music everywhere you go. My favorite is the people who perform as living statues. They're kind of ghastly with their painted skin and clothing, but oh so fascinating to watch.

Every morning, covered with powder sugar from the famous and obligatory beignets, we’d set off on some interesting tour.

One new place is Mardi Gras World, a giant warehouse filled with pieces that adorned the Mardi Gras floats. They even have costumes there for you to try on and your visit ends with a piece of King's Cake.

As you’re walking freely among the huge heads and body parts, you can also watch actual artists working on next year’s pieces. Most are made out of Styrofoam, and body parts are interchangeable. Mardi Gras, of course, is big business in New Orleans and has an incredible history extending back before the Civil War.

I think one of my favorite things about this liberal and beautiful city is that whatever your talent, you can figure out a way to make a living. The best idea, I thought, was a young woman with a sign that read “Poems Written Here.” I liked her because she sat behind an actual typewriter, not a laptop.

Also new is the World War II Museum with aircraft hanging from the ceilings and a movie about the war effort that leaves you teary-eyed. There’s even a WWII veteran there to talk to about what it was like to be in the military.

New Orleans' big claim to fame in WWII was the Higgins boat, the boats that landed in the Normandy Invasion. Andrew Higgins originally designed the Eureka Boat for the Louisiana marshes.

During wartime, he went from a single plant to seven to meet the military's needs. President Dwight Eisenhower later said that without the Higgins boats of New Orleans, the whole strategy of the war would have been different.

The people of New Orleans are so very proud of their French and Spanish heritage and their renown cuisine. Inevitably, the conversation turns to Hurricane Katrina. It was touching to hear over and over again how that catastrophe brought the people together again in a communal spirit that had been lost through the years.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. She can be reached at puccini99@aol.com.

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