Cupcakes and Sorrows in NOLA

I finally spent time in New Orleans this weekend.  I have been here so many times on the blogs, living vicariously through the words of others.  Now in winter, soaking in the odd combination of humidity, hot sun and icy breeze, I wandered the streets and marveled at the curious combination of dilapidated, abandoned structures and restored, bustling storefronts and colonial-style houses with trellises draped in houseplants.  I went to the Garden District first which, incidentally, was marked off as the “wrong side of the tracks” on my hotel map — “Stay in the downtown area and the French Quarter,” said the clerk.  I guess neighborhoods with people walking dogs are threatening… maybe it’s the dogs we tourists are supposed to avoid.  In any case, I first stopped in at Pralines by Jean.  Attracted by the chocolate mint and cream cheese-capped almond flavored cupcakes, I bought some for the road and talked to Jean for a while about her Katrina experiences.  She said her area wasn’t badly hit, but that it took her a while to get back in business because it was hard to get items such as sugar and flour, obviously very important ingredients for such decadent food.  She also said that it was hard to get her permits in order to get the business under way again, because after she had filed everything the first time, the city informed her that she had filed the wrong forms or something and had to do it all over again.  Despite the local corruption though, she said, “we love it here”.

Next I wandered through the neighborhood, taking pictures of spectacular houses, including the occasional wrecked and abandoned one, and noted that there are many For Rent signs in the Garden District.  I stumbled upon Magazine Street, where I was coersed by a few local artists and artisans and hip-looking shopkeepers to spend more money than I have on gifts for people I know.

This done I set off into the sunset through an industrial area toward downtown, just wandering.  The cowbirds or whatever they are congealed in a great black mass and settled on the vast network of telephone wires above me like dark messengers.  Once near the river, bracing against the icy wind, I felt the intensity of sorrows accumulated there like silt in the delta.  But there was also music and spice in the air, and I found myself glad to be here.

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2 Responses to “Cupcakes and Sorrows in NOLA”

  1. Comment

    One of my favorite posts.

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