Today we’re talking about New Orleans with some special emphasis on the city’s National World War II Museum.
The laid-back style of New Orleans was the catalyst for the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau coining the nick-name “The Big Easy,” in the mid-90s.
New Orleans is known for its fabulous jazz clubs. Jazz parades take place to commemorate a funeral, and sometimes for no reason at all!
Another claim to fame is the delightful and delicious cuisine of New Orleans. The famous Brennan family owns some 20 restaurants in the city. We sampled Mr. B’s, which is managed by Cindy Brennan and we had the pleasure of meeting her. The Brennans are definitely present at their restaurants and that is perhaps why the quality of food and service remains top notch at their establishments. Savor fresh seafood in dishes like Creole Catfish, Mr. B’s barbecued shrimp, or warm yellowfin tuna salad.
We revisited K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen. The restaurant was established by chef Paul Prudhomme and his wife K. in 1979. His wife has since passed on, but Paul remains closely tied to his restaurant which introduced Cajun food and blackened entrees to the nation. Try pan-fried flounder with Scallop Herbal Brie Cream, Eggplant Pirogue with Seafood Bayou St. John, or Blackened Beef Tenders with K-Paul’s trademark Debris Sauce.
No trip to New Orleans is complete without a walk through the French Quarter. If you are early enough, you will see them hosing down the sidewalks and streets with soapy water and picking up every scrap of garbage. Of course, a night-time walk gives you the pulse and glitter of the place.
Don’t miss the Café du Monde at Jackson Square. Since 1862, the café has offered up coffee and beignets, a donut-like pastry covered with a blizzard of powdered sugar. You may see some well-known people there. Once we saw a famous basketball coach and his team. This time we ended up sharing a table with a woman who, we found out in conversation, is the interim Executive Director of the NAACP.
A memorable site is the National World War II Museum. It is a historic tribute to the veterans of World War II and a world-class military archive. The Victory Theater shows the 4-D film “Beyond All Boundaries” featuring Tom Hanks and a lot of special effects. The film brings home to viewers the stunning loss of life sustained by the United States and its allies during World War II. The U.S. Freedom Pavilion offers “Final Mission: The USS Tang Submarine Experience.” This is a well-done experience, but if you are at all claustrophobic, you may wish to skip it.
The museum experience begins with a clever simulated ride on a Pullman rail car. This is an effective transition bringing the visitor into the World War II story. The museum is richly, but not demandingly interactive.
As an interesting contrast, my husband and I visited the World War II Museum in Moscow just a few weeks ago. The Russian Museum told the story through monumental dioramas, which were beautifully executed and powerful.
Both museums illustrate the honor attributed to the war dead, and the overwhelming loss of life.
Plan an excursion to one of a number of plantations within about an hour’s drive of New Orleans. I visited Oak Alley Plantation, known as “The Grand Dame of the Great River Road.” You will step back into antebellum elegance with a guide in period costume. Exhibits chronicle the Civil War, sugarcane and the slave quarters.
Consider a long weekend in New Orleans and enjoy the history, cuisine, music and ambiance of this unique American city!