Well, I never thought it’d happen to lil’ ole me but my new book, Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour, has been on Amazon for almost a year now and it’s still a bestseller, in the top 5 in its category!
Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour Remains Bestseller on Amazon!
So here’s an interview I did with monster Internet maven Dion GeBorde about alla dat.
Click the Buy Now button below to get your copy of my bestselling travel guide
Your Own Personal New Orleans Tour
It used to be $0.99. Now you can get it for only $3.47.
But hurry, I may be raising the price in the near future. So now is the time to get it.
Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. You can get a free Kindle reader for your computer. Download the Kindle app. for your Mac HERE. Download the Kindle app. for your PC HERE.
Of course we all know New Orleans restaurants and New Orleans food is known and celebrated the world over. For the last hundred years or so lots of books have been written about our food culture along with numerous cookbooks. Novelist Steven Wells Hicks has done something a little different from the norm in his book 25 Definitive New Orleans Restaurants.
Get this book to learn the fascinating ins and outs of New Orleans restaurants
You Can Get (Almost) Anything You Want at 25 Definitive New Orleans Restaurants
To be honest when I was sent this book to review I put it off for the longest time, it just did not seem that interesting to me. I thought, why write a book that’s about just a handful of New Orleans restaurants and bars? Some of the them I’d never even heard of before. Well, as the saying goes, you can’t always tell a book by its cover.
I have nothing against the cover, looks nice and clean and informs the reader of the gist of the book. But one evening I put my trepidations aside, cracked the book open, and was pleasantly surprised from the first page.
Hicks, a transplant to the city, has chosen several of the most famous and popular New Orleans restaurants, along with several I didn’t even know existed! Ha, and me supposedly being this big expert about all things New Orleans. Well, I guess I’ve now been shown a thing or two.
The author writes in a fun, engaging tone about his experiences in each one. He adds to that the history of the place, its fascinating personality and the cast of characters that make up the owners and its patrons thus providing a microcosm of just what makes the city of New Orleans unique in all the world.
Author Steven Wells Hicks brings his novelist skills to writing about his favorite New Orleans restaurants and bars.
Being a novelist he is able to write vividly with wit and humor with a novelist’s flair. This makes the book enjoyable to read. And to be honest, I’ve been reading it very slowly, sometimes only doing a chapter or two a night.
And he does not sugarcoat things either. When he talks of Antoine’s, yes that venerable place, he provides a brief fascinating history but in giving his overall review does not pull any punches. He acknowledges that local patrons have been pretty much aware for several years now that the food is not what it used to be, so he recommends eating there for lunch simply because prices are a lot better than in the evening.
Besides giving reviews on some of the famous places like Mandina’s, Galatoire’s, Willie Mae’s, and Mosca’s he also gives his take on neighborhood favorites like Clancy’s, Rocky and Carlo’s, and others.
Some I’ve never heard of like Cafe 615 (“Da Wabbit”), Sal’s, and Seither’s out in Harahan. And for the last restaurant he reviews Tujaque’s which, sadly, has seen a lot better times and, as he indicates, is in need of a complete overhaul.
I remember when we had a small family reunion of sorts years ago we all ate upstairs in this historic old joint, a place original intended to provide cheap meals for dock workers back in the 1800s. We sat at a big round table in this small room where the floor tilted to one side. Some of the young people with us were kind of freaked out by it, but the adults thought it was cool because it was just the character of the place and added to its quirkiness and sense of history. It was a four or five course meal as I remember and was okay.
He finishes the book with reviews of twelve bars around the city, and I must confess that most of them I had never heard of and now reading about them am tempted to make a pilgrimage to each one.
He does mention two of my favorites: Napoleon House, in my opinion the best all around bar in the city with the added bonus that it also serves good food, and Arnaud’s French 75, a classic, cozy, elegant place, an oasis from all the hubbub in the Quarter. To me it’s the kind of place that’s best enjoyed by dressing up a bit, sipping on a Sazerac (one of the best in the city) and engaging in quiet conversation.
He points up other bars like Cosimo’s (did Oswald plot the assassination of JFK here?), Marky’s Bar, The Blind Pelican that are not on my list of bars I knew about or even heard of. But he writes about them engagingly enough to make me want to try them out at my next opportunity.
The back cover says this book is “required reading for serious food fanciers planning their first or fifty-first pilgrimage to the undisputed Food Mecca of the Mighty Mississippi.” I would also have to add that it should be required reading for locals too.
For a New Orleanian it provides a fresh insight into our favorite places, for visitors it provides layers of wonderful history and tidbits that makes being a customer at these places that much more fascinating.
25 Definitive New Orleans Restaurants is a great guide book for Crescent Cityrestaurants and bars and would make a great gift for visitors and local alike. Click this link to get it here.
New Orleans is coming up on the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the destruction that was wrought by the failure of the federal levee system.
What’s interesting, and it might lead you to believe that there are really no coincidences, is that the root word for Katrina means “cleansing.”
New Orleans Reinvented Ten Years After Hurricane Katrina
Now, of course, it’s tragic that people died and thousands lost their homes and livelihoods. But I think it’s always useful to consider, besides what was brought by the wrath of God, the opportunities that have been offered to make New Orleans a much better place, not only for its citizens but for business and education as well.
And like the Phoenix New Orleans has definitely risen. And I think a lot of it can be owed to not only the resilient people of region but also those thousands from around the country and the world who were willing to volunteer their time and efforts to help bring the city back.
I believe it’s come back in a big way. And this little video is a testament to that.
Since 2005 J.P. Morgan Chase has invested over $34 million in the city of New Orleans and in organizations like the New Orleans Business Alliance, Foundation for Louisiana and the New Orleans BioInnovation Center as well as other entrepreneurs and innovators.
Xavier University educator and New Orleans musician Dr. Michael White revealed what inspired him at a young age to take up the clarinet and play traditional New Orleans jazz.
New Orleans musicians Dr. Michaels White reveals why he committed to New Orleans jazz at a young age.
On the show Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins on public radio White talks about the song that changed his life when he got a rare recording of clarinetist George Lewis and heard Burgundy Street Blues. He said he did not commit completely to the clarinet until he heard George Lewis do this song. Here is how he describes his experience:
I went home and I put on this record and from the first note it was like my whole life had been darkness and all of a sudden a light came on. It just opened up and expressed what it felt like to be from New Orleans. It was like all the things that are unique and special about New Orleans life and living.
The way people laugh, gumbo, the smell of cut grass and flowers in the spring by City Park, the bayou, the river, being around the French Quarter, going to fish fries, having people sit out on their stoops, learning their news from them, going to local restaurants and meeting strangers.
All the things that are very unique about the city, it seems like all those things were in the music, it seemed to be historic but at the same time timeless. I guess what that really was as I look back on it, was that it transmitted a spirit, and that was the real sprit of New Orleans and the real spirit of the people of New Orleans and the people that created this music.
I’m not the only person. There are other people that say that song changed their lives one way of the other. I’ve heard that all over the world. It’s a magic song, I have to tell ya.
Here is George Lewis performing his beautiful composition Burgundy Street Blues.
Dr. White was featured in the film “The Sound After the Storm” produced three years after Hurricane Katrina.
No doubt that Burgundy Street Blues as performed by George Lewis contains a spirit that’s influenced many New Orleans musicians decades ago and is still doing so today. Have a listen. It just might inspire you.
Furious Pete takes us on one of his famous world tours through New Orleans food. He hits all the hot spots and eats typical Crescent City fare from the best places.
Competitive Eater Furiously Eats His Way Through New Orleans Food – Video
This guy is built like a ‘brick s**t house’ yet he is competitive eater, body builder and trainer. Which goes to prove you can eat yourself silly, which he does on this video, and still be in awesome shape. Of course, you gotta put in the work and time to do that.
It’s great to see the city from a ‘foreigner’s’ viewpoint and he shows us things that I’ve never seen before, such as how they make beignets at Cafe DuMonde. He gets a muffaletta from Butcher, a New Orleans sampler plate from the French Market, catfish, crabs and crawfish from Middendorf’s (which is actually near Hammond about 30 minutes from downtown).
Then he goes to Jazz Fest and gets a po’boy, then at Dat Dog they set up a special competitive eating plate full of sausage and bread and french fries and beans in a huge pile with two cups of beer and he downs the whole thing in about 20 minutes. Wow! Disgusting and impressive!!
At the end of the video Furious Pete is invited to a private crawfish boil. As the guy says at the end of the video “In New Orleans you don’t make friends you make family.”
Just watching this video makes me so hungry and I am sooo glad I live in this city where I can eat this wonderful food any time I want. Mm, mm, mm. Ain’t nothin’ like New Orleans food.
Here is a review of another book I was sent set in New Orleans French Quarter during the time of Hurricane Katrina. I sometimes get books unsolicited, sometimes I review them, sometimes I don’t depending on the subject matter.
Sometimes I get books that have nothing to do with New Orleans and don’t quite understand why they send them to me since it is obvious that this blog is about New Orleans and the surrounding area.
New Orleans French Quarter’s Marvelous Cornelius – Garbageman Hero of Hurricane Katrina
New Orleans folk tale set in the French Quarter in the days before and after Hurricane Katrina
For instance, I recently got sent a book about the underground music scene. A big thick thing with only only brief reference to New Orleans. So there ya go, boom, not gonna review it.
But I did receive a little while ago a marvelous big picture book for kids called Marvelous Cornelius, written by Phil Bildner with illustrations by John Parra, based on the true character, Cornelius Washington, who road the garbage truck through the French Quarter delighting all he passed with his antics of dancing, calling out to people, “Hootie Hoo, Hootie Hoo” and banging trash can lids together.
That was in the heydey of metal and plastic trash cans that were ubiquitous in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, before the garbage companies decided to go “modern” and require all customers to have those giant plastic bins with wheels you can roll out to the curb that apparently is easier on the garbage men and makes everything look tidier. It does. I don’t know if it makes it easier for the men though because I still see them hoisting the big bins by hand instead of hooking them to the contraption on the back that does the work for them.
The pictures in this coffee-table-sized book are simply drawn in a primitive folk art fashion and suit the story well, appropriate because the story is told like a folk tale. We learn about Cornelius and how much everyone loves him as he makes his way through the streets of the Quarter .
And then Katrina comes and the book depicts piles of garbage in the neighborhood some as high as the St. Louis Cathedral. The author notes that this never happened but you know poetic license and all allows exaggeration like this.
I do remember seeing a debris pile at the foot of West End Drive in the days and months after the storm put there by clean up crews. It was at least two times as wide as the cathedral and perhaps would have gone halfway up its height. So, although that was not in the Quarter, in fact, I don’t think there were any debris piles in the Quarter, these massive piles did exist.
Cornelius in the book is the hero who rallies people to not fret and frown but to get to it and start cleaning up the mess, and getting back to the business of living their lives. I think it’s really interesting that the actual Cornelius was raised in a little town in Louisiana called Waterproof. Very telling about this character.
Unfortunately, the real Cornelius died in the years after the storm and this is how the story closes in the book, a sad little note, but his spirit lives on to inspire others. It concludes with the line “But as for his spirit, that’s part of New Orleans, New Orleans forever after.”
What I think is instructive about this tale to kids, and adults as well, is here was a guy, a garbage man, supposedly one of the lowliest jobs on the totem pole, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy what he was doing, and was able to make his job fun and entertain folks as he went by.
Cornelius certainly made a name for himself and showed people that you can take any job and do it in such a way that you can enjoy it. The book appropriately begins with a quote from Martin Luther King:
Even if it’s called your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep street like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”
Cornelius seems to be one of those eccentric characters that New Orleans is known for. And we are the better for it. (Aren’t we all eccentric in some way who live here, I mean don’t ya kinda have to be?)
The authors provide a link to resources for teachers with questions and activities to make Marvelous Cornelius more instructive, engaging and fun for their students.
This is a beautiful little book that any young person would love to have. And would be great for any adult to have on their coffee table, another artistic expression of the tens of thousands of stories about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans.
“It is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than own the entire state of Ohio.” — Lafcadio Hearn…. New Orleans is one of the most magical cities in the world. There is something about this city that has a tendency to take hold of you and won’t let go. If you are born […]more →