New Orleans is a huge tourist destination so it’s often featured in various travel media. Trouble is, usually it’s all about the French Quarter and not so much about all the other areas of the city. Not so on the latest episode of The Layover, Anthony Bourdain’s newest travel-foodie-culture show on The Travel Channel. The French Quarter is visited but so are Bywater, Uptown, Bucktown, Gretna and other areas. The next time I’m feeling the NOLA Blues like when another politician is indicted, or when it’s another swimming-in-the-humidity hot-ass summer day or by one more incident of an innocent bystander shot in the street, I’m gonna whip out this show on my DVR to remind myself why I stay and why I love it.
I confess to being a Bourdain fan who’s watched almost every episode of No Reservations but I also will confess to snarky skepticism when he was involved with writing a couple of Treme episodes. What’s a celeb from New York know about New Orleans? I kinda take it back. This in-depth episode proves he doesn’t just skim the surface of NOLA culture and cuisine; he digs deep and reveals the real New Orleans. The whole production was beautiful and I especially loved the clips of locals giving tourist advice and opining on New Orleans colloquialisms and eccentricities. In between and during segments vignettes of street life, neighborhoods, parks and architecture are featured in all their splendor both shiny and shabby.
So here are a few tantalizing tidbits from the show which should make you run to the website to watch this episode. I don’t want to totally give it away.
“New Orleans. The French Quarter. Yeah, yeah, yeah and go right ahead – it’s fun. But the outer neighborhoods of New Orleans are where you should be going.” ~Anthony Bourdain
Bourdain prowls the city with several locals including Davis Rogan, Lolis Eric Elie, John Besh, Donald Link and his favored cabbie, Elliot Flood. (Next time also seek ye out a woman to hang with, Tony!) Davis Rogan talked about being a native, life here, music and, of course, food. I want to meet this guy one day – he was a kick.
“Then I went away to college, I went to Portland, Oregon and I discovered how terribly white the rest of the world is and that The Grateful Dead is an organized f***ing religion and I just ran screaming for my Professor Longhair and my Meters records and never looked back.” ~Davis Rogan
Yeah, you right.
I loved, loved, loved the rapport between Bourdain and Chef Besh, who I think is so ultra cool, at Pho Tau Bay (yay, Wank!) and I love hearing him talk about NOLA. Favorite quote:
“Hurricane Katrina hit and it changed everything for me. Prior to the storm, August was about winning awards, having my name in the newspaper and, in a way it was really just all about me. Just cooking for my ego. Then after the storm it became a quest to rebuild, make a difference, do good where we can….” ~John Besh
“Be a traveler, not a tourist. Drink heavily with strangers” ~Anthony Bourdain
A list of bars visited or mentioned:
French 75 Bar
New Orleans Originial Daquiri’s
Le Bon Temps Roule
Three Muses Jazz Club
Snake and Jakes
“The main thing is, we drink to have a good time. Drinking is not the end. Life is supposed to be fun. You don’t have to turn off your senses in order to suddenly have fun.” ~ Lolis Eric Elie
A list of restaurants visited or mentioned:
The Crab Trap
Pho Tau Bay
R & O’S
Big Fisherman’s Seafood
Music. Bourdain loves Rebirth Brass Band. Music venues visited or mentioned:
The Maple Leaf
One Eyed Jack’s
Rock n Bowl
All in all a very satisfying whirlwind of a visit that was sweet, sassy and satisfying. Thanks for getting it right, Anthony, and come again.
“New Orleans is a glorious mutation.” ~Anthony Bourdain
All photos via The Travel Channel.