Food in New Orleans is a big part of my excitement about attending ALA2006. I love food. I love the smell, the look, and the taste of food. And I especially love going somewhere else so I don’t have to prepare it! We ventured to the Cafe du Monde and I tasted some of the best cafe au lait in town. Believe me that I did sample many cups. While we were there, protestors came marching down the street and stopped 10 feet from our table. There was a metal rail between us so they weren’t technically in the cafe. They used loud speakers to talk about their needs for housing, the current state of housing units being torn down and the city’s plan to replace these with more expensive units and fewer units so even more people would be homeless. We heard from business people, students, homeless, handicapped, and a preacher. They had a flyer with some facts and a website that I will post here when I actually finish unpacking.
The protestors made it very clear that they didn’t want us to feel bad about enjoying our food and beverages, but they wanted us to take home the message that the people of New Orleans need help. While the French Quarter and Convention areas are ready for tourists, the protestors wanted us to know that the working class is still fighting a constant battle to find affordable housing.
So, I went out and talked to other people in the city about this issue to ask more questions. We rode the trolley back and talked to a middle-class woman. She talked about the need and opportunity to clean up some areas of the city. At the same time she shared that she had returned to the city in February and not found housing until April.
I talked to school officials from Texas about the pending deadline for people to stop receiving money and housing. Some of them talked about their frustration with evacuees not taking full advantage of job fairs.
There are always so many sides to issues. The one constant among the people of New Orleans about what to do was “Keep talking about this so people don’t forget us.” The other comment I heard from everyone was keep eating and spending money because the only way for the city to recover was for the tourists to come back and be in the city more than 3 days a week.
So, I continued to eat my way through New Orleans. I went to Cafe Fleur de Lis for a simple breakfast (not knowing how tiny this place was), The Bourbon House for excellent Shrimp Creole after ten p.m. when many places were closed, Cafe Beignet for jambalaya, cafe au lait, and beignets, the Palace Cafe for bananas foster, Michaul’s for a TLC party with a wide variety of food from New Orleans, the Florida State University alumni dinner (as a guest, not alumni) on the top floor of the Hotel Monteleone overlooking the river, the Audubon Tea room at the Audubon Nature Institute for ASPCA, and the Red Fish Grill for a fantastic meal of hickory smoked fish (that I had never heard of) with lump crab meat, butter, and asparagus with a soup of shrimp and okra that was delicious. I attended the Newbery/Caldecott banquet at the Marriott New Orleans for a wonderful meal that left me wanting more bananas foster - hence the trip to Palace Cafe.
I visited a few beverage facilities to sample their music and loved the jazz at Maison Bourbon Jazz Club. Every time I went through Pat O’Brien’s I couldn’t locate my friends, but had plenty of opportunities to make more.