A Trip To: New Orleans
By: Hunter Folsom
Sometimes, I notice that Louisiana gets an unfairly bad rap. People think about the humidity and the gators of the bayous and, to be fair, people who are not from Louisiana or don't have friends there just don't have any reason to make the trek down there. I've noticed, too, that the further away I travel from Louisiana, the more misconceptions exist. Stereotypes are assumed to be truths and state pride leads people to feel a superiority over this so-believed irrelevant state they've never been to nor heard much about.
And that doesn't just happen to Louisiana. It happens to every single state in the United States of America. Some people from Virginia are thinking, "whatever, California," and some people from Michigan are thinking, "whatever, Florida," and some people from Texas are thinking, "whatever, Oregon." It is unfortunately the way it goes. We are proud of where we come from, and we love people to know it.
You're probably reading this and thinking, classic Texan thinking everyone is obsessed with their state. And yeah, you're right, I fall so easily into the Lone Star State pride stereotype. But this is written from my perspective, after all, so I must embrace my Texan roots.
Anyways, over my spring break, I went to visit one of my very best friends Molly in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She goes to Louisiana State University, she's originally from Shreveport, and she is a nutrition major. Needless to say, she has introduced me to the rich and incomparably delicious food unique to the state of Louisiana.
We spent our Saturday in New Orleans. To anyone who thinks that Louisiana isn't worth your time: think again. It is a state filled with kind and creative people, diversity, mystery, colorful architecture, lush greenery, and - of course - incredible food. NOLA is the perfect representation of all of that.
We started out eating breakfast at Biscuits & Buns on Banks. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was my favorite breakfast I have ever had. Molly and I both ordered their breakfast special for the day - a breakfast bowl. It was, for lack of a better term, so Louisiana. Grits, eggs, sausage, cheese, pico de gallo, and a perfectly fluffed and honey-adorned biscuit on the side. Maybe not the healthiest option, but it was filled with so much variety (and quantity) that it was enough to keep us full the rest of the day. It still goes down as one of my favorite meals of all time.
We walked Magazine Street after our meal. Partially to walk off some of that extra weight we had probably just gained (worth it), partially to explore. Magazine Street has this perfect combination of restaurants and boutiques; you are able to shop around as well as people-watch through the windows of diners, coffeeshops, hotdog joints (yes, really), and French restaurants. There's a wide range of shops from a furniture store dedicated to selling only furniture made of wood to a standard clothing boutique to a Lush store.
After that, we stopped at Mojo Coffee House to see what all the hype was about. The place itself was beautifully designed, an Instagram-aesthetic-loving hipster's dream (you know what I'm talking about, hopefully - if not, check out an account like @melissamale, for instance).
Audbon Park came next. Audbon is a massive park in the middle of the city. A lake dominates the center of the park, swans and ducks dancing throughout the shores and the waters. Many people hammock in the massive oak and magnolia trees. A trail runs throughout the entire park, and there are constant walkers and runners making their way.
Then there was the French Quarter. To be honest, this area is a little bit overwhelming. Voodoo culture is prevalent, Bourbon street is filled with this fascinating mix of partiers and performers and tourists, ghost tours are happening around you, and it almost seems like the neighborhood is free from law - anything goes. Molly and I made our way through the noise to go to The Old Coffeepot Restaurant, where I had my first taste of jambalaya ever. I was definitely not disappointed. Everyone needs to have jambalaya at some point in their lives.
By this point, I'm sure you've realized our day was dictated by food. I'm not ashamed. Cafe Beignet came next. I know I'm going to stir some controversy when I say this, so brace yourself: Cafe Beignet is definitely better than Cafe Du Monde. I went to Cafe Du Monde last Christmas season and it was, I will say, the perfect combination of delicious beignets and crazy bustling crowds and live jazz music. Cafe Beignet surpassed that. Why? Because the cafe was small and intimate, feeling like a small-town, family-run establishment. Because it really wasn't very crowded. Because the beignets were, like, twenty times better than the Cafe Du Monde beignets. I'm sorry to Cafe Du Monde fans, but these beignets were way more fluffy, flavorful, dense, and sweet. Pair these little puffs of perfection with cafe au lait, and you're in heaven. I was, for certain.
Our day in NOLA ended there. It was a glorious ending. All of that sugar sent us into that kindof hyper mood in which you can't stop laughing at even the things that really aren't funny at all and your speaking voice is about five times louder than it normally is. Molly and I will both admit we were on a sugar high on the ride back into Baton Rouge that night. To an outsider, we probably would have been obnoxious, but since it was just the two of us in that car, we were simply obnoxiously filled with joy and whimsy.
New Orleans left me feeling full - and I don't just mean my stomach. Days of carefree enjoyment with a friend you love in a place that inspires the curiosity and wander within you are the best days. So, go to Louisiana. Moral of the story. Forget your preconceived notions, and just go.