You’ve probably never been to a museum dedicated to food and beverages before. In fact, it’s almost certain you haven’t, unless you’ve been to Southern Food and Beverage Museum at Riverwalk Marketplace in New Orleans. The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is the only museum dedicated to the history of food and beverages in the country. The many ethnicities that have settled in New Orleans since its founding, as well as its physical location as a port on the Mississippi River, all came together to create an indigenous local culture, and of course, cuisine . Located in New Orleans, intersecting at the crossroads of centuries of colonial rule followed by British-American dominance, SoFAB has a story to tell about how we have always lived life through what we eat. In New Orleans, we love stories about food! In many ways, it defines who we are. Eating is, after all, a universal activity. We are all about food at Southern Comfort Bed and Breakfast located in the gorgeous Garden District of New Orleans.
Category Archives: New Orleans Attractions
New Orleans loves its music and its food-and its craftspeople and artists too. There are many ways of experiencing or taking home with you some of New Orleans’ quirky crafts and artworks, while still eating and listening to music! In the spring, it’s really fun to visit some of the local arts markets. One of the oldest is the Arts Market of New Orleans, held rain or shine in Palmer Park located on the corner of South Claiborne and South Carrollton Avenues, the final stop of the St. Charles historic streetcar. The Arts Market is held on the last Saturday of every month, and you can eat wonderful food there (of course, it’s New Orleans!) and also listen to live music (of course, it’s New Orleans!) Many local visual artists show their work, and you can drool over gorgeous jewelry, hats, handbags, ceramics and wood items, and anything else that our creative artists have imagined. Upcoming dates for the next three months are (rain date Sunday) Saturday March 31st – Celebrate Africa Day at the Arts Market; Saturday, April 21st (special early market); and Saturday May 26th . You can the ride complimentary bicycles offered by your Garden District Uptown Bed and Breakfast, Southern Comfort there too; there’s a Bicycle Valet program.
New Orleans is built upon layer after layer of strata, and its population followed suit. The current Pontchartrain Expressway, running from Pontchartrain Boulevard to the Union Passenger terminal, located at Loyola Avenue, was built along the route formerly known as New Basin Canal. In 1831, the New Orleans Canal and Banking Company was formed to begin construction of the canal, which was to connect Lake Pontchartrain through the “swamp” to the Uptown section of New Orleans. By 1838, after an expense of $1million, the 60-foot wide, three- mile long canal was complete enough to be opened to small vessels. It took seven years to build, and countless lives of the Irish immigrants who were coming to the city in hordes back then. Yellow fever in New Orleans in the 19th century was a ruthless killer. Estimates range from 4,000 to 30,000 deaths of immigrant Irish workers digging the canal. Today, the canal has long since been closed For more information, see www.irishchannelno.org/ New Orleans is as much Irish in its heritage as it is French or Spanish. It’s not just about green beer. New Orleans grew physically to accommodate new residents, making it the second largest population of Irish immigrants, only to New York City.“The Irish were the catalyst for making New Orleans a metropolitan city,” says Fitzmorris. According to Tulane historian Terrence Fitzmorris, “The city’s vibrant economy based on trade drew immigrants like the Irish. They were part of the powerful regional and Atlantic economy that made New Orleans a global city.”
Nobody who’s ever been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans forgets seeing the Zulu parade on Mardi Gras morning. Elaborate floats carry men dressed in tribal attire, like grass skirts, and wearing colorful warrior makeup, who throw prized gilded coconuts and other trinkets to the crowds. It’s a wild sight on a wild day. Like all of New Orleans Mardi Gras traditions, it has deep social and historical underpinnings that go back a ways. As they say, it’s complicated.
The Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club became an incorporated group on September 20, 1916, but the group began even earlier, as a Benevolent Aid Society that collected small dues from members and helped them out when they became sick, or buried them when they died. It was a New Orleans insurance system for African-Americans that has given rise to numerous marching groups and second-line parades to this day, originating from each “ward” or neighborhood in New Orleans.
According to Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club’s website, www.kreweofzulu.com/, “The Tramps,” a troop of laborers, most of whom were members of the Benevolent Aid Society, attended the Pythian Theater to see a performance by the group Smart Set in early 1909. Included in the comedy was a skit titled, “There Never was and Never Will Be a King Like Me,” about the Zulu tribe in Africa. After the play, The Tramps went to their meeting place in the back of a bar in the 1100 block of Perdido Street (now near City Hall and the Civil District Courthouse), and came out-Zulus! Since they couldn’t be members of the all-white, and rather stuffy, Rex, black Zulu members started their own club.
Bacchus, the Greek mythological god of wine and cheer, is also known as one of New Orleanians’ favorite Mardi Gras parades. The Krewe of Bacchus was officially formed in 1968 and was a creation of the Brennan family, a name well-known for their local fine dining establishments. Over the years the group has grown into one of the largest and most popular Carnival parades, noted for its sheer size, impressive animated floats, and celebrity riders such as Bob Hope, Nicolas Cage, Elijah and James Gandolfini.
Some of Bacchus’s signature floats include the Bacchasaurus, King, Queen, and Baby Kong, and Bacchagator. The Bacchagator was the first 2 tandem super float ever built and extends 105 feet. Over the years a net was added to reflect all the beads that would end up back in the mouth of the gator. This is my favorite parade that passes down the traditional parade route down St. Charles Ave. such a treat to be only two blocks away.
Hey, it’s almost February 2012, and we all know what that means here in New Orleans-Carnival Time! The first joyously anticipated parade rolls next Saturday, February 4, starting at 6:30 PM, through the ever-funky French Quarter and Marigny neighborhoods. Yes, that would be Krewe du Vieux. Makes sense that the first parade would be in the Marigny- Bernard Xavier de Marigny de Mandeville, a wealthy plantation proprietor of French heritage, raised money in 1833 to fund an official celebration of Mardi Gras, and of course his plantation later became the Marigny. (He was one of the original developers of New Orleans!) But there’ve been carnival celebrations in New Orleans since at least 1743. The Krewe du Vieux likes to boast that it’s the only organization that parades around the original satirical ideals of Carnival. No lofty mythological themes, or glittering stars on huge floats a la Endymion. No, it’s just creative people making fun of their own society. Lots of material in New Orleans!
The theme this year of the always-irreverent (and a bit racy) adult-oriented parade is “Crimes against Nature,” and Deon Haywood as the Queen, the Executive Director of Women with a Vision. As leader of that organization, she fights for the rights of at-risk and impoverished women, marginalized members of society, and their families. She’s clearly not shy! With a theme like that, who knows what might turn up on those mule-drawn floats meandering through the Old Quarter. Recent Kings include Dr. John (2010-“Fired Up!”) and Don Marshall (2011-“25 Years Wasted.”).
New Orleans has no lack of museums, and as always, they celebrate the city’s renowned diversity. For starters, there’s your traditional art museum, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. That is New Orleans’ flagship art museum, the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park. It’s under new leadership in the person of Susan Taylor, and is proudly moving into its second century. NOMA’s holdings include a significant collection of decorative arts and photography as well as painting, but for its second hundred years, it’s widening the spectrum of pieces in the permanent collection in its new show, NOMA 100.