A few years ago I was in Lake Charles, Louisiana, during Mardi Gras, and while the carnival festival there is more low-key than in New Orleans, it’s said to be the second largest in the state.
Along with a few other visiting travel writers, I was invited to ride on the local Convention and Visitors Bureau’s float, which led the midday parade. Best of all, we were also invited to throw out beads and candies to the folks lining the parade route.
People had camped out all morning to get a prime spot, bringing their folding chairs and coolers stocked with cold drinks, many wearing Mardi Gras colors: purple, green and gold. They also wore beads, funny hats, sequined outfits, and various Krewe T-shirts, indicating allegiance to the various social clubs that build and run the parade floats.… Continue reading
Mardi Gras — Fat Tuesday — falls on February 9 this year, and is celebrated in America most notably in Louisiana.
In my limited Mardi Gras experience, I’ve noticed that Louisianans like to dance to Cajun music, dress up and ride in Mardi Gras parades, catch beads, drink copious amounts of liquid refreshments, and eat crawfish.
I love seafood, but when I was presented with a heaping platter of boiled crawfish in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a few Mardi Gras celebrations ago, I was a little intimidated.
While crawfish look like little lobsters, they’re way too small to crack in the same way. So how do you eat them without making a fool of yourself in front of the locals?
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what I was taught by a local expert (and it works!):
1. Pick up one fully boiled crawfish.… Continue reading
On our recent cruise down the Mississippi River aboard American Cruise Lines’ paddlewheeler Queen of the Mississippi, my wife, Catharine, and I started in Memphis and ended in New Orleans.
In between came stops in ports as large as Baton Rouge, as small as St. Francisville (Louisiana) and as medium-sized as Natchez, Mississippi. We also stopped at several lovely antebellum plantations that illustrated the wealth of the region before the Civil War, built on cotton, sugar and the slaves who worked the fields or served the plantation owners and their families in their homes.
The most striking of the plantations, to me, is called Oak Alley, which we visited the last full day of the cruise before reaching New Orleans. It’s on the west (Louisiana) bank of the Mississippi, where a… Continue reading
On my recent American Cruise Lines’ voyage down the Mississippi aboard the paddlewheeler Queen of the Mississippi, we left the state of Mississippi behind about halfway through the week. Our new destination was Louisiana, on the western side of the river, making our first stop in a very inviting looking town called St. Francisville, which, despite a pouring rain that morning, proved one of the most interesting ports on the Mississippi.
St. Francisville is actually the second oldest incorporated town in Louisiana, with Spanish and British roots rather than French, as you find farther south in the state. Nearly 150 structures compose its National Register Historic District, recalling the world of the antebellum South. The artist and naturalist John James Audobon did a number of his famous bird drawings here.
It… Continue reading