Hello again, New Orleans!

cathedral, new orleans

Do people write love songs about New Orleans?  Do they write sonnets?  Hold a boom box over their heads to profess their love to this city?

Or do they just visit and return home full of gumbo, beads, bloody marys, and just a tinge of regret?

Beads in New Orleans

I spend twelve glorious days in New Orleans this Mardi Gras season and I came away feeling different.  There’s something about this city that feels nostalgic.  It goes much deeper than the colorful plastic beads and French Quarter fortune tellers… it’s a feeling that lingers in the air.  It feels like all that once was in this city is still so close.    It’s hard to describe.  Maybe it’s the passing streetcars, the above ground tombs, and the always uneven cobblestone.  Something seeps from the ground here, and it feels old and relevant.

joy, new orleans

New Orleans is special.  It’s proud.  It’s colorful.  The city  totally wants you to come for a visit, and come back to stay.  What follows are the things I saw and the things I loved.

(If I were actually standing in the middle of the two center windows I’d be a much more successful blogger… I’m cool with imperfection.)

voodoo, new orleans

The nights in New Orleans can be positively bonkers.  It’s the intersection of celebration and madness… people just explode into it with tequila shots and music in the streets.  This picture sums up the happenings.

nightlife pants, new orleans

Nightlife pants are a total must in the French Quarter… as are flat, closed-toes shoes, a large bladder, good lipstick, and exposed shoulders if you’re feelin’ it.

Bartender bread

The people watching is everything.  A good bartender in New Orleans is equip with a certain kind of non-judgemental knowing.  I think this dude had it.

saturday night, new orleans

Sometimes it’s really wonderful to step back and just take in the people sipping, chatting, laughing, and passing.

Sometimes people fall on the ground in front of you.  Sometimes you catch a random dude peeing in the street.  Sometimes a dude will run his hand through your hair FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON AND IT’S TOTALLY NOT OK.  A lot is possible… so much is possible during New Orleans nights.

at guy's, new orleans

Days are filled with food.

Guy’s Po Boys in Uptown is the kind of place you go for awesome neighborhood sandwiches.  If you go just before they close in the afternoon, you’ll be surrounded by kids in plaid school uniforms ordering sandwiches.  The owner, Marvin seems to know all their names.  There’s something good in that.

guy's po boy, new orleans

And there’s something totally major in his Smoked Sausage Po Boy.  Dang, dude.

boucherie, new orleans

I had one of my favorite meals of the trip at Boucherie.  This little restaurant is so charmed and absolutely delicious!  This brisket po boy with horseradish cream and pickled red onions was gone in approximately 4 minutes.  I’m a lady.

Seriously though… the fries?  OUT OF CONTROL.  And don’t even get me started on the Pimm’s Cup.  I can’t deal.

how to eat crawfish, new orleans

The streets were packed with parades as we tried to make our way to Big Fisherman Seafood for crawfish.  We walked many a block to sneak in before they closed for the night.  We ordered eight pounds of crawfish, and I captured the girls next to us getting a crawfish eating tutorial from the fishwife.

Yea… fishwife is what a female fishmonger is called.  Did you know this?  I totally just learned something.

table of crawfish, new orleans

Walking for your crawfish.  Dodging beads and rainstorms.  The work makes the crawfish that much more delicious.  Eating off butcher paper with a cold beer and a giant roll of paper towels also makes for good quality time.

getting at the crawfish, new orleans

Elbows on the table.  Big easy laughs.  Whole potatoes.  Boiled corn.  Heads of garlic.  This might be as good as it gets.  I mean that most sincerely.

st. james cheese, new orleans


Some nights you just want to stay indoors with wine and illegal amounts of creamy cheese and strong olives.  St. James Cheese Company won’t judge you when you buy too much Brie.  Thank you.


dining room, new orleans

Dooky Chase is a New Orleans classic.  When I say classic I mean that my parents visited New Orleans in 1991 (aka the stone age), lugged their GIANT video camera into the restaurant, and filmed themselves eating the same amazing plate of Red Beans and Rice that I ordered during my visit this month.  My Dad was right… it’s AMAZING!

maple leaf bar, new orleans

There’s something I noticed about New Orleans… they really have a thing for colored lightbulbs.  Adding a little color to a dark situation can hide a multitude of sins (and possible cockroaches) (I’m sorry… that’s real).  The Maple Leaf Bar is an old-school, bar-smelling bar with amazing and music…

straight whiskey from plastic, new orleans

they served bourbon neat, and in disposable plastic cups.

Can I live?

Next door to the Maple Leaf Bar is a restaurant called Jacque Imo’s where I would encourage you to please please please go and order a watermelon mojito and shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake.  Whoa.  Trust.

blue, new orleans

Maybe I’m wearing a Rainbow Bright wig from Fifi Mahoney’s.  That wouldn’t be the worst thing that ever happened.

horse party, new orleans

We can’t talk about Mardi Gras without talking about the parades.  I know what you’re thinking… no I did not flash my lady parts to get beads.  A) Most people at  parades don’t actually do that.  B)  Stop letting episodes of Bad Girls Club New Orleans tell you what to think about Mardi Gras.  C) Flying beads are hard enough to catch on their own, I can’t imagine catching them with my top over my head.  D) I’m going to stop talking before this gets any worse.

Suffice it to say that the mood at Mardi Gras parades is very celebratory.  Even the cops are sort of having a good time (on the inside).

marching, new orleans

The marching bands are the hardest working parade people.  In many parades these dudes march for 10 miles.



st. aug, new orleans

The kids of St. Aug grace almost every big parade.  These dudes WERK!  I love this kid’s half-hidden face.

beads, new orleans

Beads, color, and the discard.

neon night float, new orleans

Let’s talk about the gentlemen (using that word loosely) on the parade floats.  After a few hours of being in the front lines of a parade you learn a few things.  These dudes throw beads HARD.  Making eye contact is essential.  Being a cute girl, child on a ladder, or really aggressive dude helps in the acquisition of beads.  Being a good catcher of things: also helpful.  Taking a flying strand of hard plastic to the face HURTS!  At a certain point, the quest for beads turns into a defense of your precious face.  That’s real.

Ps.  Sometimes these dudes look scary, are super drunk, and don’t actually seem that stoked about their bead-throwing lives.  It must be a long ten miles.

Beignets in New Orleans

Aaanyway…. I need a beignet.  Cafe du Monde is supreme.  Recipe to follow shortly.

ornate floor, new orleans

Looking down is ornate.

st., new orleans

Looking up is pretty serious too.

pink house, new orleans

There are such special houses in this city!  This pretty pink dream stood out to me.  Sidenote:  There was a super tall older gentleman washing his tiny, though very barky, dog in the backyard.  I liked that.

the quarter, new orleans

I must have a crush on this building. I took a picture of it the last time I visited New Orleans.

on the wires, new orleans

The streets are clean and clear after Mardi Gras.  Some minds look towards the Lent season.  Tourists find their way home.  Locals get back to work.  Beads hang and remain.

I love it all.

(All shots in this post taken with my new Canon EOSm that I’ll tell you more about soon.  Shots of Joy and Maple Leaf Bar taken by HC.) (That is all.)

99 thoughts on “Hello again, New Orleans!

  1. Joy, I love that picture of you standing in front of the un-centered house. You stand just like me with your legs crossed! Everyone used to make fun of me for that, but I know it’s awesome…

  2. Great blog post! This communicates well many of the things about New Orleans that first grabbed my heart and soul when I first visited in the early 90’s . . . and wouldn’t let go until I finally moved here from California in 2007.

    My husband and I both ride in Mardi Gras krewes (Nyx and Carrollton, respectively) and indeed if you were watching the Endymion parade – lots of those dudes ARE drunk and hurl beads AT you, not to you. I once caught a pack of beads full-on in my face and then when I was bending down in shock, I was tagged by another bag on the head – as we say down here, “Mardi Gras can be a full-contact sport” . . .

    But as a krewe member and float rider, I can confirm that it’s 99 percent tons of fun to throw beads (that’s why we pay to do it and buy the beads we throw, after all)! My personal throwing philosophy is to throw to the older, less cute folks (like me) who aren’t little kids and blonde college babes, as that demographic does just fine getting stuff. I get more joy out of making the day for the folks hanging out in the back ’cause they can’t get through the forests of kid ladders and clots of drunkass co-eds to the front of the crowd. It’s the main reason I parade.

    I’m glad you had a good visit – please come back soon!!!

    P.S. – To the other readers/commenters here – please DO come visit New Orleans, we love to have guests!

    1. Lisa, I’m hoping to visit New Orleans in April as part of a longer, but struggling to find a place to stay/ working out where to stay. I’m spending 6 months in the USA creating a new body of photographic work. I’d love to hear from you, even if it’s just some sound local advice. J.

  3. I visited New Orleans to, and I think you captured the spirit of the city, the culture (particularly) food perfectly! Thanks for the beautiful narrative style and pictures, as always– but this post particularly touched me!

    1. Do you mean during Carnival? Or just generally?

      Before I moved here, I visited for over 20 yeas – both as a couple and as a single female – and I’ve found New Orleans to be as safe as any other urban environment (and I’ve lived in Boston, L.A., S.F., Sacramento) . . . which means that it’s safe, but it IS also a city and there are certain areas/neighborhoods best not visited on your own. Not to mention, that there are indeed some criminals, mischief-makers and drunk asshats who aren’t good with personal boundaries. But by-and-large, those folks are not the rule – they’re the exception.

      However, I do recommend that visitors not present an obvious target for mischief (like in any other city) – don’t wear cameras around your neck and fanny packs. Don’t wear beads at any other time of year that ISN’T during Carnival season (contrary to popular belief, not only do we not flash our “girls” for beads down here, we don’t wear them all year long). Look like you know where you are and you know where you’re going and you should do just fine!

    2. I agree with Lisa’s thoughts. I’ve visited New Orleans multiple times, sometimes in groups and sometimes on my own, and when I’ve been there on my own, I’ve relied on the same common-sense guidelines that I would use in any city.

      You should definitely visit New Orleans!! You are right, the food alone is worth it – but so is the culture and the history and the music and…okay, I’ll stop there. =)

  4. I love this post…the images are amazing. The stories they tell and their clarity and your photography skills. Not always easy to get a ‘great shot’ amidst chaos….or after a few drinks :)

    I love the pic of you alone, in front of that bldg. Great click.

    The whole post & your storytelling is great, Joy!

  5. Aww I visited NOLA almost a year ago and absolutely loved it. Coming from Germany, this city somehow doesn’t have this typical ‘American feeling’ to it. It just has its very own atmosphere (and people, needless to say). I totally dig all the pretty houses and cobblestone streets, too.

    And of course, I LOVE your blog as well as the podcast you do with Tracy. Reading about and listening to you two helps a little with lessening my longing for the States. Plus, it gives me reason to get my measuring cups out. :) Good night to you, good morning to me!

  6. ” I love this kid’s half-hidden face” made me laugh sooo hard! HAHAHA.

    i love the orange top in the tutorial from the fishwife photo. omg, i want it.

    beautiful pics, joy.. you don’t need to stand in the middle of two windows to be cool.

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