When you’re ready to let the good times roll, there’s no place like New Orleans to cut loose, indulge in local grub, sip something intoxicating, and soak up the atmosphere — while tapping your toes to some of the best music on the planet.
New Orleans was born as a port city in 1718. What set New Orleans apart then (and now) is how it created a unique culture from the diverse people who populated the city. New Orleans got its defining characteristics — a sense of hospitality, its food, its music — from enslaved and formerly enslaved people, Native Americans, and immigrants from France, Spain, the Caribbean, and Italy.
There’s a lot to see and do, but if we’re being honest, the real draws are food and music — and the annual street party that brings them together: Mardi Gras.
In this episode, we dig into a little bit of history and a whole lotta music and food, including the magic of jambalaya and the difference between cajun and creole. We also tell you how to find the best parades during Mardi Gras and get real about a haunted house.
Then we recommend great books that took us there on the page, including a fantasy novel with voodoo zombies and enchanted graffiti, an over-the-top cookbook that captures the spirit of the city, an exploration of Katrina’s impact on nine different lives, a historical murder mystery with tons of atmosphere, and a gorgeous novel that weaves a family saga with sci-fi.
Read the full transcript of New Orleans: Pass a Good Time.
Perhaps you’d like to listen to some New Orleans music while you dig into these links.
If you only click on one thing, make it this website with tons of awesome videos and virtual tours of New Orleans landmarks.
A brief history of New Orleans, or colonists, pirates, and jazz… oh, my
Here’s a handy guide to New Orlean’s historic cemeteries — and a fantastic virtual tour of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. (Here’s more info on that cemetery.)
Let’s get serious about food. The Thrillest has The 15 Most Essential Food Experiences in New Orleans, Culture Trip serves up 7 Local Dishes You Need To Try While In New Orleans, and here are Oprah’s picks for dishes at specific restaurants.
Texas Monthly: Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie, Filé Gumbo. ‘When Hank Williams sang about it, Cajun cooking was just good down-home food. Now it has teamed up with fancy Creole dishes and gone trendy, but—surprise—it’s still good down-home food.’
This in-depth article — New Orleans Music: From Mardi Gras To The Meters… And All That Jazz — is a zippy read and includes videos so you can listen along. And here’s the Lonely Planet guide to New Orleans jazz.
Statement 1: New Orleans holds an unbeatable record for breaking prohibition. Isador ‘Izzy’ Einstein; what a character!
Statement 2: Nick Cage owns a haunted house. Twelve absurd things Nic Cage bought.
Ray Celestin is the author of The Axeman’s Jazz. His website is packed with information about that book and the rest of the City Blues Quartet. There’s a collection of images on Pinterest to go along with The Axeman’s Jazz and this playlist of videos on YouTube.
From _Smithsonian_magazine: The Axeman of New Orleans Preyed on Italian Immigrants.
Ray Celestin talks about the Axeman and his book:
Don’t miss this brilliant playlist of New Orleans music to go with his book, featuring Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, and Professor Longhair.
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