Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Best Laid Plans...

Whatever its considerable powers undoubtedly are, the skull amulet we bought at Jazz Fest emanated too little mojo to ward off yesterday's rain.

Rain slickers were there for the taking, or at least a moderate price. Any number of French Quarter stores and street vendors outside of Jazz Festival hawked them for anyone who wanted one. For a time, we could have bought a pair on the Festival grounds. But did we? Of course not! As a result we scurried for cover like rats to a floating ship when the few trivial raindrops that had been our constant companions suddenly transmogrified into a downpour. We tried waiting it out in the WWOZ courtesy tent and did wind up talking to nice people from Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Connecticut, and New Orleans. Well, at least we had the foresight to buy sunscreen.

We had even managed to catch a couple of nice sets from Chief Iron Horse and the Black Seminoles Mardi Gras Indians (who later gamely attempted to lead a parade through the encroaching muck) and Hadley J. Castille and the Sharecroppers Band. We also browsed the various craft shows and dropped a bundle at the book tent, which had an excellent select of Louisiana writing. 

The Mardi Gras Indians are a force of nature unto themselves. An elaborate hierarchy starting with the chief dances to a sort of funk beat underlying a verse-chant structure. They're probably at their most compelling leading a Mardi Gras parade, but the Black Seminoles were plenty impressive on a stage. They dress in fantastic hand-made and personally designed costumes that each member must spend a good part of the year leading up to Mardi Gras working on. (The wireless connection at the hotel isn't very good, preventing me from uploading the video I took.)

At one point, the rain appeared to let up. I set out from the tent in search of beer and slickers and wound up drenched and clutching a can of champagne. We downed the champagne and decided that the time had come to redefine our mission for the day. In practice, that meant decamping from Jazz Fest back to the Bourbon Orleans, tracking down an umbrella, drying out and resting, then strolling over to Tujague's for their six-course pris-fixe dinner. Tujague's has been around since 1856, and they have the dinner thing down pat: The appetizers are always shrimp remoulade, soup of the day, and brisket remoulade. You have a choice from from four entrees -- Premium T. chose the veal Oscar while I went for the drum (a Gulf fish) -- then a predetermined dessert (bread pudding with almonds and banana in this case). T. was impressed with the successful combination of cuisine and the efficient use of resources.

Citizen K. Read: New Orleans Noir, edited by Julie Smith

1 comment:

Foxessa said...

I have a series of photos I took of Tujague's, trying -- and admittedly failing -- to get it framed in such a way that it would be 1856, when you looked at it.

Before moving back to NYC I spent several April afternoons walking around during less congested periods trying to get a good sequence of 19th century NO. That the River Walk and the Market are near was another incentive for the project -- as well as the sunlight.

That's the thing with Jazz Fest: either mud or sunburn. Our agent's down there this weekend too. But Vaquero's going to the DR book fair Wednesday, to give a lecture on the Haitian Revolution and then peform some of his music.

Junot Díaz is the Feria del Libro's guest of honor, as well he should be!

Love, C.