6.48am, Tuesday 30th October, North Rampart Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Good morning folks, and once the frost drops out of the air, we’re heading for a mild 78 F or 25 C, and I’ll be starting the day at the New Orleans School of Cooking with one of their classes – today it’s how to make gumbo, jambalaya, bananas foster, and pralines. I thought it best to get right into the local culture as soon as possible!
Yesterday, I had a top run down from Breaux Bridge, through the sugar cane country of mid Louisiana, across the Atchafalaya River, and into New Orleans from the south. I’m staying on the top or northern edge of the famous French Quarter, opposite Louis Armstrong Park, which makes up the Western boundary more or less of the Treme (Tremm – maay) neighborhood – made even more famous now by the TV show of the same name. So, within reasonable walking distance – I can sense some serious opportunity for adventuring!
So first …the cooking school, then I’ll be taking my foot high pile of brochures on everything from plantation to ghost tours, finding one of those cafe au lait places that makes those fluffy mini mountains of fried dough covered in powdered sugar – beignets or ‘ben – yays’. Yes, I think that’s a plan.
By the way, I went the long ‘down, around, up and under’ way to New Orleans yesterday, because I wanted to visit the McIlhenny family, who live and work on Avery Island, in Iberia Parish. You might know them, they’re the folks who have been making Tabasco sauce in the same spot since 1868. As soon as you can see the sauce factory, you can smell it. It hits your nose and your eyes at the same time! I went into the country store to work my way through the tasting bar – even the ice creams – one is jalapeño and the other raspberry chipotle flavors. There wasn’t much I didn’t like – not bad for a girl who didn’t go near chilli when I first started coming to America. This is definitely the hot end of town.
See ya later, when I’ve got a bit of an idea about how to make jambalaya … and what it actually is.