The insider's scoop on food, travel & southern culture
First off, I’d like to welcome myself back to the Deep Fried Diaries. I’ve had a few crazy weeks strung up in a row, but not to worry. I’m hopping back on track! Although I’m envisioning a bit of a different post for today:
By now you know that I’m all about the South: Virginia down to Louisiana, and everything in between. You know that you can rely on me for all things food and travel, while I muse on Southern culture or my own little adventures and memories. My work (and my blog posts) are most heavily focused on two areas: the Washington, DC area and New Orleans. If you work for me, you get to know them pretty well.
Meaghan (my dear Meaghan) has been with me for almost three years now. She’s had her hand in a little bit of everything here at Simoneink, and at times you could say she’s the glue that holds us all together. Much of her work has been focused down in New Orleans. Here at Simoneink, we like to talk the talk. But you can only work for me so long before you’ve got to walk the walk.
It was time for me to bring Meaghan along on one of my trips down to New Orleans. It was time for that born-and-bred Virginia girl to set foot on Louisiana soil. I also wanted to be sure that if she was going to experience it for the first time, then I was going to be the one showing her around.
So we hopped on a plane, and I gave her the full Nawleans experience. From her first beignet at Café Du Monde to her first New Orleans jazz concert, I made sure she ran gamut.
That first time in New Orleans, well, it’s a precious experience—one I felt Meaghan should share. So I thought this blog would be best as a Q&A. The teacher asking the student to reflect on her pilgrimage:
What is it like to go to a new city that you have lived vicariously through your work?
Meaghan: It was like running into an old friend! Over the past 2+ years at Simoneink I have learned so much about the culture of New Orleans. I have the city and people painted as a wonderful image in my mind, and it felt like that “person” came to life. New Orleans was everything I thought it would be, and more.
What was the first thing you wanted to see?
Meaghan: I wanted to see what all the fuss was about! And I sure did. What I was most anticipating heading down more than anything were the tastes of the city. BBQ shrimp, raw oysters from the Gulf, alligator gumbo, fried shrimp po-boys, Red fish—I had it all! The city is infused with so many cultural influences, and it was amazing to get a taste of each. One thing is for certain, Gulf seafood is unmatched in terms of freshness.
What you always heard me talk about is my Holy Trinity of how to cook up a good visit to New Orleans: Food, Music and ‘Tails. Was there too much heat?
Meaghan: I think I handled the heat pretty well! Tuesday, after breakfast at Café Du Monde, lunch at Café b, and dinner at Mariza, we headed to get a daiquiri in a “go-cup” before going to The Maple Leaf to see the best act in town: the Rebirth Brass Band [good buddies of Simone and a band I was honored to meet when they were in DC for Bayou Bakery's Roots of Music event!]. Simone’s Holy Trinity was the theme of the day!
What was it like going around town with “a local” and her ultimate tour guides, born and bred in NOLA?
Meaghan: I couldn’t have been introduced to New Orleans in a better way! Getting the tour from a local, I not only saw the hot spots, but also got a feel for places frequented by those “in the know.” We hit every corner of the city, near and far, in my first 3 hours of being in town!
What was the most surprising part?
Meaghan: It was so surprising to see how close the well-off and the less-fortunate communities live to each other. You were in a more run-down area of town, turned a corner, and were looking at the most beautiful houses and landscape you could see in the South. I left the trip feeling that the proximity of these two communities really makes New Orleans unique, and it makes them such a proud and unified city when tragedy occurs like it did with Katrina.
What was the strangest?
Meaghan: Some of the accents and colorful words! New Orleans has its own culture, separate from most cities in the south, especially when it comes to some of the expressions. I’ll list a few below…
What would make you want to go back again?
Meaghan: The Bywater neighborhood. It has so much character and was peppered with the graffiti, start up businesses, lively restaurants, and just a whole aura of “cool.” I’m really looking forward to seeing how this neighborhood grows into something notable in the next 5 years.
If you could list your own three Holy Trinity words what would they be?
Meaghan: While in NOLA, my 3 Holy Trinity words would be Flavor, Color, and Song!
I’m proud of this girl, as it seems our time was well spent (not to mention I had a blast showing her around). Until next time! I’m Simone. And this is what simone sez…