Tales of the City

THE GOODS ON GUMBO
This ultimate Creole dish is a tasty metaphor of New Orleans culture: not a melting pot, but a spicy mix of ingredients that complement each other without losing their individual flavors.

Based on the African tradition of soup, gumbo is made with local seafood like our superb Gulf shrimp, crabs and crawfish, or a mix of meat and sausage (usually Cajun Andouille).

Native American file' spice thickens and flavors the stock. Okra (from the Bantu nkombo) also helps with the thickening process as do Creole tomatoes. The 'holy trinity' of New Orleans food -- onions, garlic and green peppers -- is a must.

OUR LADY OF PROMPT SUCCOR
On January 7, 1815, the eve of the Battle of New Orleans, citizens spent the night in the old Ursuline Convent on Chartres Street in prayerful vigil to Our Lady of Prompt Succor for victory.

Fearing the arrival of British guns at their doors, they sought Our Lady's intercession, along with the Ursuline nuns in residence, for a miracle. In return, they promised to dedicate the City to her should the ragtag warriors drive the British forces away in defeat.

The Americans won decisively. General Andrew Jackson personally visited the Convent to thank the
faithful for their prayers, and grateful citizens donated family jewels to create fabulous gold crowns for a statue of Our Lady and the infant Jesus in her arms.

Every year, on the anniversary of the battle, a solemn high mass is celebrated at the national shrine of the Ursulines in uptown New Orleans as the people follow through on their promise of thanksgiving. The chapel is open to the public where the Our Lady's statue can be venerated.

JAZZ!
They say that was born in the l890's when Buddy Bolden put his cornet to his lips and blew a few hot notes to a cool tune. Just that simple and JAZZ was created, an American original and a world favorite.

JAZZ mixes African and Creole rhythms with African American and European styles. The Irish, Germans and Italians contributed the presence of brass bands.

JEAN LAFITTE
He had the manners of a gentleman, the wealth of royalty, and the mystique of a legend.

Some called him the Hero of New Orleans, to others he was known as "The Terror of the Gulf." He personally preferred the term PRIVATEER and he crowned himself as King of Barataria and the labyrinthine empire of waterways where he ruled nearly a thousand followers and where legend is that he buried much of his ill gotten loot.

Today, the land of Lafitte is a haven for fishermen and home to quite a few of the descendants of the infamous pirate. It was of he that Lord Byron wrote: "He left a corsair's name to other times, linked one virtue with a thousand crimes."

MARIE LAVEAU
She passed away over a century ago and, yet, people still visit her tomb in the Old St. Louis Number One cemetery to gain a touch of the Voodoo queen's power.

The tomb can be easily accessed in the old burial grounds on Basin Street, just outside the French Quarter. Those who believe mark the tomb with an X (many use lipstick) in hopes of securing fresh gris-gris, a voodoo spell or a charm that only Marie can offer.

STORYVILLE
It exists in name only. This was the area of the official red-light district of New Orleans, from l897 to l917, when it was decided far better to make war then love.

Attempts at regulating and taxing the world's oldest profession failed until l897 when a city alderman named Sidney Story drafted an ordinance confirming prostitution to a controlled district where it was still illegal, yet madams were required to have a license to operate their brothels.

Instantly dubbed Storyville, the ladies cheerfully profited from consolidation, creating the 'Blue Book.' their own private yellow pages listing the houses, girls, services and prices for many of
the 700 women who worked there. The book's famed photographs inspired potential customers to take a closer look. Business boomed, and Jazz greats like Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver played in bordellos. The Louis Armstrong Park today sits across North Rampart Street, a Storyville area where many young musicians got a start. Look for Donna's Bar and Grill and the Funky Butt where you can still hear the music of the City.

This material may be reproduced for editorial purposes of promoting New Orleans. Please attribute stories to New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau. 2020 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130 504-566-5019. www.neworleanscvb.com. Revised 2009.