New Orleans - Parts One and TwoBy PEGGY SIMS,
New Orleans – Part One
We just don’t travel in the summer. It’s hot, and I don’t do well in the heat.
I am not like most Southern girls, they glisten, I sweat. I get mean and hateful and my husband just does not travel with me in the hot summertime.
All that taken into consideration, we decided to take a trip to New Orleans several years ago in the middle of July. I don’t know why, he knew my personality at that time of year, but we went anyway.
My husband is a well-traveled person and really never ever gets lost traveling, when he’s by himself. But, with an inexperienced navigator at the stern, well?? We were traveling in my little black Lincoln. It was really too small for his big frame, but it just fit me.
Of course, he was driving. He thinks I go too slow, too fast, tailgate other cars, so forth and so forth.
Not much conversation on the way down except for the usual road rage brought on by crazy drivers and the HEAT!
We stopped just before we crossed the Louisiana line and ate lunch, in the car, from a drive-through. We couldn’t be late. They were only holding our hotel room until midnight??????
Actually, the chicken salad I ate, was really good.
As we crossed Lake Ponchartrain, I could see his knuckles begin to turn white and his mouth draw up in a tight line. I knew he was preparing for the heavy traffic ahead.
Now when we travel, I am the navigator. I don’t like being the navigator. I like to read, sleep, or just, I guess daydream. I don’t pay too much attention to the road. But I am always the official person to make sure we get to our final destination.
As we are speeding down the four-lane highway, he says to me, “Remember and pay attention we have to turn off on exit B at the 146 mile marker.”
Exit B? Exit B? Oh my gosh we passed that five or six miles back.
I took a deep breath and told him we had missed it.
Whiter knuckles and tighter mouth line as he growled at me.
“Well, is that not great? How do you expect me to cross over four lanes of traffic and turn around? Can’t you read a road map?”
Sure I could read a road map. I was just trying to file that hangnail real quick. Must have missed it.
The next road sign we see - “Slidell 33 miles. Oh Boy. I am so so quiet.
So, without the skill of Andretti, he starts moving into the far right lane to turn off the busy freeway. He’s nearly hit or nearly got hit two or three times, so I just close my eyes, put the road map over my face and PRAY!!
We actually have to go on into Slidell to make our turn around.
The sun is beginning to set in the west and twilight is seeping in. Now, I say we are totally lost and will never find the French Quarter. He says “Read the MAP!”
I don’t know where in the heck we are. I know we are in a part of town that I don’t want darkness to fall on me. There are people with brown bags sitting on the streets. I guess public drinking is okay here. I tell him to look and just about the time his eyes leave the street a shabbily dressed man walks in front of our car and pops the hood for my husband to stop, we missed a stop sign and nearly ran him over. Then we are rewarded with a hand gesture not becoming a gentlemen.
What is it about men? They will not stop and ask directions! I keep begging him to stop and he keeps saying, “Read THE MAP.” Map? I have a map of the highways we are traveling, not downtown Slidell.
I finally say, “If you will stop at that convenience store, I’ll go in and ask directions.” He informs me that if it will please me he’ll go.
He tells me, “Keep the car running and lock the doors. You could be molested, killed, or worse down here.”
What in the world would be worse?
He runs back out in about two or three minutes with a big brown bag. I ask him what’s in the bag and he tells me to never mind.
Don’t ever tell me that.
I open the bag and look inside. Well, it’s a red feather boa. “A feather boa?” I asked confused. He tells me, "The man inside was Andre’ the Giant’s brother, with a patch over one eye, and when I asked directions he said, ‘Follow your road signs Buddy and what you want?’ I was afraid he meant for me to buy something and that was the first thing I saw.”
Well, to make a long story short, which I will finish next week, we found the Yellow Cab Company. We hired a yellow cab to lead us back into New Orleans and down into the French Quarter.
I don’t know how much he had to pay the cab, I would never ask. He just told me as he got back into the car, “You do not tell anybody about this. Do you hear me?”
Sure, I heard him. I could not wait to get somewhere private so that I could call all my family, my friends, his friends, and maybe his employees about our trip to New Orleans on a hot day in July.
4 deboned chicken breasts cooked and chopped
1 cup sliced green grapes
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
New Orleans – Part Two
Well, we followed the yellow cab back into New Orleans and down into the French Quarter and began looking for our hotel, The Inn on Bourbon. It was right in the middle of the Quarter and it was 7 at night, the weather had cooled, and we had both chilled out. Then we discovered that our hotel was at the upper end of Bourbon and we were on the lower end. At 6 every night they barricade the cars from Bourbon and only allow walking traffic. We could get nowhere close to our hotel parking garage. We turned down the next street, a one way and we are going the wrong way. We were being honked and sworn at as we dodged car after car. We had to park two streets over and walk to Bourbon. As we were several blocks away, we decided to carry only our overnight bags and move the car in the morning, if we survived the night.
As we stepped onto the lower end of the street, the street was filled with mimes, hot dog vendors, “barkers” trying to lure us into one of the clubs, tap dancers or people just asleep on the side walks. As we passed one of the entertainment places, a woman in a more than short red dress; I think she was a woman; caught hold of my husband’s arm and I thought he would fall down dead! He dislodged himself and grabbed my hand and we walked a little faster down the crowded street. My legs are short and there is no way I could keep up with my husband’s stride. We walked (ran) as if Marie Leveau had risen from her tomb and was chasing us down the street. As we were nearing our hotel, we heard loud Dixieland jazz. It seemed that there was a funeral in procession with a parade and people dressed in costumes playing musical instruments as they carried the coffin of a departed loved one and celebrated his life.
We waited, watching before we crossed the street into our hotel.
We checked into our room and I was so hungry. Just thinking about all that good Cajun food surrounding us on the street below, had my mouth watering. After settling, I said, “Why don’t we walk down to Mike’s and get some seafood?” I would have thought I had asked him to fly to the moon. He explained to me in a very calm voice, “WE will not leave this room until daylight.”
Yes, that was right. I am in New Orleans, home of my favorite foods and here I am on an elevator going to the next floor to the vending machines to buy peanut butter nabs and cokes for dinner. Is this not the saddest thing we have ever heard?
We turned in early for New Orleans, hey even for Kosciusko. Sometimes during the wee hours of the morning, we were startled by a banging on our door and a voice calling out, “Honey, I forgot my key.” The voice was rewarded with a big number ten tennis shoe being hurled at the door and my husband yelling out, “Get away from the door, you pervert!” The “gentleman” just went on down the hall singing and mumbling.
This trip truly taught us a lesson. We do not travel in the hot summertime; we do not book reservations in the busiest part of town; we always try to keep to a timely schedule; I will never be the navigator again. And I can promise you, I will NEVER eat peanut butter nabs for dinner again in New Orleans, Louisiana.
New Orleans Beignets
1 cup SR flour
½ cup butter
1 cup water
oil for frying
powdered sugar for dusting
Mix all wet ingredients and incorporate dry ones. Mix really well and drop by teaspoons full into hot oil. Cook for 15-18 minutes or until brown. Makes 28 – 32. Enjoy with a cup of café au lait.