New Orleans

Posted June 26th, 2003 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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I had been to attend the SNM conference at New Orleans. For those perverted minds who put SNM and New Orleans together and get 5, let me quickly add that it stands for Society of Nuclear Medicine! New Orleans looked different even from the air while the plane was landing…I could see several shades of green: the grassy green of the freshly mowed lawns, the dark green of trees grouped together almost like a small forest and pale “coconut chutney” green of the swamps!

new1New Orleans is mixing pot of several cultures. It was a French settlement initially, then came into Spanish rule for about 40 years and then eventually became a part of the United States in December 1803. It was also enriched by the migration of the French Acadians from the present Nova Scotia in Canada Louisiana in the late 1700s. Each of these cultures left an imprint in New Orleans, like the practice of voodoo which was a legacy from the Spaniards and the delicious blend of Cajun and Creole food from the French Canadians and the local French-Spaniards and of course the Mardi Gras which was a local French festival and now heavily commercialized into a wild romp by the present Americans.

Since I was at an important conference and one of my first conferences at that, I felt it was prudent to attend most of the proceedings rather than roam the city, as I was tempted to do. Of course the fact that my bosses were there all the time helped!! The conference was interesting, informative and for a newbie like me, provided a wealth of information about the current happenings in the field and also the opportunity to the see and listen to the bigwigs in the field. Add to that dinner invitation each night by the corporate biggies, it was enough of an inducement to stay at the meetings

For New Orleans is well known for its cuisine and not only does it live up to its reputation but surpasses it. Beignets, Jambalayas, Gumbos, pecan pralines and a multitude of sea food!! The food has spice and taste and has a distinct taste different from the normal “American Food”. Due to its geographical proximity to the Mississippi river and the Gulf of Mexico, sea-food was predominant. Even a chicken sub (called Po-boy by the locals) had a large quantity of shrimp in it.new6

Definitely a paradise for both the gourmand and the gourmet. Actually, I read this joke before embarking on a swamp tour; it said when you visit an animal habitat elsewhere signboards provide you with the local name, scientific name and some characteristic facts about the animal. In Cajun land you get the local name, the scientific name and a recipe!!! Thought it was a good joke before starting on the tour at the Bayou Segnette (Bayou =Indian word meaning slow moving river) to see alligators and raccoons amongst the swamps but when our tour guide offered no less than 3 recipes for alligator meat I was forced to admit it was not just a joke.

[Tip of the day: Lightly sauted alligator meat smothered with onions and fried in garlic paste is the best way to eat them gators : provided by Capt. Bill!]

Cypress trees surrounded the swamps and alligators abounded in them. We also caught sight of some raccoons and some snowy egrets and heard some history of the swamps and shrimp fishing. The Louisiana swamp region supplies about a third of the country’s seafood and cooking and eating were the standard topics of his spiel.

I did manage to roam about a little and spent one evening window shopping in a local mall along near the banks of the river Mississippi : the river that reminds me of only one thing…Mark Twain‘s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn! Or may be two J :) new2

And of course no description of New Orleans can be complete without a mention of Bourbon Street. The French quarter had a characteristic construction of buildings with long balconies rather like apna chawls. The street is filled with bars and restaurants most of them playing live music (jazz is the speciality here) and very very crowded. The street was so crowded on a Tuesday night at 10 pm that I could not imaging the weekend crowd and especially the crowd during Mardi Gras! There were some crazy people flinging beads from these balconies and there were people below to scramble for the beads in a half drunk state. But inspite of that the joie de vivre of the place was infectious!

I reached back home on Wednesday night armed with some spicy sauces and sweet pralines and a stick of alligator meat candy :)

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Books

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K Rowling. What else could one read this week but Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix? Started reading it at 11 on Saturday night and finished it at 4.30 am Sunday morning! Harry is now a moody and hot-tempered teenager, Ron and Hermione are prefects and Dumbledore conspicuous by his absence thru the major part of the book. The characters are a little more developed than being totally one dimensional for example Petunia Dursley and Sirius Black. New magical terms appear like Occlumens and of-course a new Defense against the arts teacher. Rowling keeps the same format of the books though…starting at Privet drive, Hogwarts school, some hidden mystery that Harry, Ron and Hermione try to solve ,Harry’s fight with Voldemort and eventually ending with Dumbledore explaining the facts to Harry and the departure of the Defense against Dark Arts teacher. The major tone of the book is quite depressing though…George and Fred were probably the only cheerful people in the book. Now for the long wait for Book 6 L

Movies

Pakeezah and Junglee : Caught it on Turner Classic Movies Thursday night!

Websites

The Harry Potter Lexicon : Everyting you wanted to know about Harry Potter and more
More on Harry Potter and then some more

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