This week, I've run away from home to poke around in my past and to spend a lovely four days visiting with my mother -- one on one. It's been a long time since I've had a chance to do either, and doing them together is awfully nice.
My mother, you see, has been staving off real retirment by maintaining her position on a variety of boards of directors. Over the past few years, she's slowly letting them go as her terms expire. (We're all rather pleased to see the international one go -- she had to spend all sorts of time on 8 hour plane trips to cool places that she never got to actually SEE since all her time was eaten up in conference rooms). Among the boards she sits on, is one that is meeting in New Orleans this week. I've piggy backed on her trip, and we're enjoying sharing a hotel room, and eating together and a bit of touristy walking about.
New Orleans, for me, is about many things. Family history, childhood, food....
My father was born and raised in New Orleans, as was his mother, grandmother and great grandmother. My grandfather was born a bit north of here, but spent most of his life in New Orleans. My mother and her family moved to New Orleans when she was about 2. This means that I can find a lot of my ancestors buried in the same Cemetery here in New Orleans. I'm hoping to find a way to visit, but it's in the 9th Ward, which is not as pleasant a place to be as it once was.
This also means that I visited New Orleans a lot when I was a child. That means that I have a lot of food related memories .... both from visiting and revisiting favorite restaurants, and from sitting at my Grandma's table. Coming into town, I had a list of foods that I wanted to be sure to enjoy before I left town:
(check) - the night we got in.
Seafood Gumbo - check (at an event where pictures would have been just plain rude)
Red Beans & Rice - check (same event)
Catfish Po' Boy - check (same event, but I think I'll do it again, since I shared a small one, and need more of that taste)
Raw Oysters -- still waiting
Coffee and Beignets at Cafe Du Monde. - once so far.....
There are other memories - of houses, and neighborhoods, and things to do.
One of those things was walking around the French Quarter. Those crawfish up there are from Deanie's, a very pleasant (and new to me) restaurant in the Quarter at the corner of Iberville and Dauphine
Walking back through the Quarter, we chanced upon this fellow (another fine combination of familiar - musicians playing all around the quarter -- and new)
He was with a band of three fellows playing some great music on the corner of Royal and something... This instrument is an African Bass Harp (or Kora).
Here's a video (taken by someone else) of this same fellow playing ...
And a view from behind the harp
I rather wish I'd bought his CD. I really enjoyed the music.
After a bit more wandering, we forwent Cafe du Monde, but did stop to sit on the River Walk and appreciate the peaceful delusion of the Mississippi at night.
The water looks so cool and so blue and peaceful -- but I know it's muddy and brown and moving swiftly towards that bridge in the distance.
I'm looking forward to a few days of revisiting the places we went when I was a child, and meeting new people, and seeing new things. But I'm also really looking forward to a lovely visit with my mother.