When we passed through the hotel lobby this morning, it seemed that most of the line was university fans checking out. So things may be settling down a little.
The sidewalks were still a little crowded when we walked down toward the French Market, but then, they may always be crowded here. I couldn’t know.
On the way, we were on Rue Dumaine and made a detour into the Voodoo Museum. (You knew there had to be one, right?)
It’s a couple of rooms and a hallway with pictures and altars. An obituary of Marie Laveau reproduced from an 1881 newspaper is framed on the wall. She didn’t die. She “fell into the sleep from which there is no waking.” OK. Forgive me. Maybe that was elegant in 1881.
The place was founded by Voodoo Charlie Gandolfo 40 years ago.
The music is fantastically appropriate. Among the selections were “I’m Gonna Put a Spell on You,” a blues number about Marie Laveau that I hadn’t heard before, and “Love Potion Number Nine.”
The altars are supposedly functioning. One gets sprinkled with water every day. It receives visits from Voodoo practitioners, who leave offerings there. The altars are covered with small change, an occasional dollar bill, but mostly coins. I left a quarter for Baron Samedi, who is my favorite. I mean, c’mon, the guy has lost all his skin but still shows up in a tux.
I also found out that the triple x, a sign on Marie Laveau’s tomb and others at St. Louis No. 1 is intended to cross out a hex, and so is an appeal for spiritual protection.
Like anything else this colorful, you have no clue what’s real tradition and what’s made up on the spot.
The French Market starts with the line for Cafe du Monde and stretches a few blocks. There is a jazz band in an open-air cafe, a restaurant, food stalls (including one that specializes in alligator), and a flea market, which is mostly souvenirs for tourists.
I can’t imagine that anybody goes to the French market to buy groceries. I did see signs for an actual farmer’s market, which sets up occasionally.
There are plenty of places to buy a drink, and that has fascinated me about New Orleans. It’s almost as free as Europe.
We had a 2:30 reservation at Galatoire’s on Bourbon Street and so started to head there.
On the way, we stopped at the Bourbon O because they serve good mimosas and I know where the men’s room is.
When we got to Galatoire’s there was some kind of party in progress. People were spinning their handkerchiefs in the air while somebody else blasted a tuba with enough energy to pierce my head.
I don’t know what it was. A wedding reception? A bar mitzvah? An Ohio State victory party?
I didn’t want to know. I was alarmed. I’m already half deaf and this could take me the rest of the way.
Lucky for me though, our table was up a long flight of stairs and through a couple of rooms, enough to damp the boom of the horn.
Three tables were occupied in the room where they put us. The largest group, which included four wel-behaved kids, were already on coffee and dessert.
I wanted to take Joanna to Galatoire’s because Karl had written to me that the turtle soup there is the best he has had, and may be the best soup of any kind. OK, I said, this is pretty safe. If Joanna hates the food, I can blame Karl.
The meal was excellent.
That turtle soup was savory, with just a hint of the sherry in it. The broth was dark. The texture was terrific, with minced vegetables and small bits of turtle meat.
It might put you in mind of my favorite song from “Mystery Science Theater 3000”: “Gammera is really nea; he is full of turtle meat.” Just like Galatoire’s turtle soup.
I had the soup with a glass of Haut-Medoc, and Joanna had a Burgundy. The Haut-Medoc is a Bordeaux and this one had some of the oaky taste I like, but not a great deal of that. It also had an almost spicy finish.
I had a sip of Joanna’s Burgundy, which was very smooth with lots of fruit and a sensation almost like a spreading of the flavor on the way down, which I expect from pinot noir grapes.
We both ordered filet mignon for our entrees. I try not to do that when there is anything out of the ordinary on a menu. But I have been eating so many unusual dishes—sauteed alligator, rabbit pie, sweetbreads, gumbo, olive salad, oysters with caviar—that I was getting tired.
I wasn’t up for experiments with veal liver, so it was time for steak and potatoes. But with a twist. The filet was about two inches thick and red in the middle. Potatoes Lyonnaise are sauteed with onion in butter (like home fries, Joanna said). The cauliflower was plain, no dressing on it, and sat on the plate like a little brain. Spinach Rockefeller is pureed with stuff in it, but I’m not sure what.
I had a Cotes-du-Rhone called Rive Droite Rive Gauche with the steak. Nice aroma, good fruity flavor and, like the other two reds, very dry.
By the time we were halfway through the steak, the other tables had emptied. We didn’t expect it, but we wound up with private dining at Galatoire’s. Excellent turtle soup and a great steak. Thank you, Karl.
Here are a couple of things from earlier in the week that I forgot to mention.
I forgot to report one of the highlights of New Year’s Eve. Considering that it’s in the United States, Bourbon Street is pretty much over the top even in daytime.
The street was crammed that night, mostly with people wearing Alabama or Ohio State red, but one figure stood out—kind of hard to miss, really. A woman was wearing a head-dress that included a rack of deer antlers. She had a cape, and that was about all she was wearing above the waist.
That and a pair of pasties that looked like pink rubber anemones. She was asking for tips if anyone wanted to take a photograph.
Among the more interesting tombstones we saw in St. Louis Cemetery was one for Micajah Green Lewis “who fell in a duel, Feb. 14, 1805.”
Our New Year’s Day walking tour guide, Natalie, had told us that the now-fenced-in square behind the cathedral, where the statue of Jesus is, for many years was the public dueling ground. The church owns the space, and in the days when most duels were fought with swords or daggers, church officials tolerated the tradition.
When firearms became the rage, the clergy said, No, we can’t have any of that. So the duelists had to move their trial by ordeal to some city park.
I wonder if Micajah fell on consecrated ground. His tomb is in the Protestant section of the cemetery.
We walked in the evening on Bourbon Street but it was getting damned cold. We went back to the Bourbon House, the restaurant at the Crowne Plaza, for oysters and salad and a couple of IPAs.
The trip home on Saturday was fine. I had booked through Expedia, which sent us out on American (changing planes in Dallas). We were on Delta going home, and the route made more sense. The transfer was in Atlanta.
When the lady at the bar carded me in the New Orleans airport, I realized that I was out of the city and back in the South. It’s airport policy, she said.
I always resent that more than I should. It brings out some of my prejudices. I always suspect it is a conspiracy by religious zealots to harass the wicked for drinking beer.
We got out of New Orleans on time, and our scheduled four-hour layover in Atlanta stretched into more like five. There were storms all over the East, so planes were delayed.
If there is going to be a delay, it’s best on the last leg of the trip.
Anyhow, by the time our plane left Atlanta, I had had enough beer to sleep even in coach. All I remember is waking up to the announcement that we were beginning our descent.
Last time I fell asleep on a plane was on the way to Paris. Joanna said I wasn’t snoring this time.
Love and good times to all.
A four hour layover? The whole flight shouldn't take that long. Is this because it was high season travel? I always managed to get direct flights. I trust you saved a bunch of money because of this.