Spring in New Orleans
Spring has sprung here in New Orleans, and I'm enjoying it very much. I was in India last spring (a country where the season is largely conjecture), and spent the spring before that huddling miserably in a New England college dorm. Southern springs are, in my mind, especially nice. I have happy memories of watching multi-colored tulips and irises spring up like clockwork when I lived in Georgia, and so the same is happening here.
One unfortunate fact: caterpillar season has arrived. Dubbed "killer-pillars" with the city's trademark fatalist bent, these black and spiky little beasts spawn merrily away in the oak trees that dot the city. Unfortunately, the caterpillars like to fall upon people passing below. Then sting them. I think this is an awesome rationale for termination and extinction. One good thing about killer-pillars is that they are simply delightful to step on (and you don't have to feel bad because they are inherently evil). Why is stomping them so pleasing? Three words: neon green goo.
On that happy note...
Tulane hosts Crawfest every year, a school-wide outdoors concert and crawdad boil. A few zillion pounds of crawfish were trucked in and boiled up for the famished crowds, complete with corn and potatoes and large quantities of soda. (Great for mixers! Not that anyone would dare to sneak in any alcohol or anything of that licentious and dangerous nature!)
I rolled in right at noon and missed the giant-crazy crawfish line that magically developed around 1:00. I heard rumors that people were waiting 40 minutes for free crawfish. Some people need to figure out the art of Subtle Cutting. (Again, I would never ever do that.)
The crawfish were juicy and nicely-sized, and I enjoyed the spicy flavor of the boiling broth. They were, however, a little big for me. I prefer the tiny little crawfish that can be devoured almost whole. I take the Chinese approach to shellfish consumption: every calorie that can be sucked out, ripped out, or otherwise cajoled out of a sea-creature is fair game. So that is what I did. Someone attempted to talk me up while I was ripping open crawfish carapaces and sucking out the yellow and buttery juices within. I have evaded pickup attempts before while eating crawfish. Is my hideously primeval consumption of crawfish some sort of turn on for a certain kind of guy? Do I want to know?
I enjoyed the music and I really enjoyed the Zydepunks, New Orleans answer to Gogol Bordello. Their delightful combination of Slavic folk, Zydeco, Klezmer and high-energy punk music always makes my feet happy, and their Crawfest appearance was no exception. I tossed aside my sandals and dove happily into the mosh pit/thrashing circle that appears at all Zydepunk shows. Unfortunately, I thrashed perhaps a bit too hard and woke up the next morning unable to bend my calves. I still can't bend my calves and it is Tuesday. Beware the Zydepunks. Or beware over-exuberant thrashing.
(The Internet tells me I have Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness and that it is actually good for me. You suck, Internet.)
I finished out the evening by wandering down to the Julia Street Art Walk, a culturally fufilling event that occurs the first Saturday of every month. I enjoyed perusing the galleries - Julia Street has some really nice collections and some interesting stuff. The best part of the event is watching New Orlean's self-style cultural elite stroll around sipping on cocktails (conveniently sold from kiosks placed every block or so on the closed off street) and dressed to the absolute nines, murmuring quietly to each other about post-modernism. (Or America's Next Top Model, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt.) Foodies should note that local restaurants serve up tasting portions of their favorite dishes as walk n' noshes. Selections may include saag paneer from Nirvana or ice cream from Ben and Jerry's or gumbo from one of the cities zillion or so Creole eateries. Just don't splash shrimp creole on a 100,000 dollar sculpture, mm'kay?
We also saw these guys.
And these guys. A marching band is required at all events in New Orleans. I am a big marching band fan and think this should be de-rigeur across the country.
To cap off a long day, there's nothing better then some oysters. We wandered into the Crazy Lobster on the water near the Riverwalk and ordered up a dozen of the little bivalves raw. Although the Crazy Lobster doesn't get many good reviews of its food, these were nice and fresh.
We also tried their broiled oysters - also pretty tasty, and prepared before your eyes on the grill behind the bar. I especially liked the Mediterranean version, with sliced Kalamata olives and feta cheese. Not the most traditionalist preparation, but very nice on a spring evening.