Cultural defiance

In an America so captivated by the deal-driven marketing dream; of hyper-efficient profit-making; Dan Baum reminds us that New Orleans is ‘a citysized act of civil disobedience‘. 

Ain’t nothing tidy about New Orleans. A big brass band can suddenly strike up a ear-splitting tune from any available public bench, any time of day or night…

Here is a place that speaks to the truth; they may not haunt you in a ghostly sense, but, financially, well that could be another matter…

You can do your laundry in a former recording studio that was graced by some of the musical greats… where else will your shorts and panties be indelibly linked with Ray Charles, Little Richard or Fats Domino?

And the nailing down of the corporate lid will be stubbornly resisted with the darkest of humour…

Where the hustle and bustle of busy 21st century complexity receives short shrift…

In a world renowned act of rebellion this is where the simple act of eating out requires that you learn something akin to a culinary foreign language…

But it is also where the built environment can speak to you in understated emotional tones that eminate a great warmth of welcome…

Where human and avian worlds meet in an elegant balance…

Where glass ceilings have no place…

So, until we speak again, come to New Awlings, and…

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Breakfast in America

What goes on in America stays in America… eh? It seems not. A couple of weeks touring the diners of Chicago and New Orleans will certainly give any returning traveller a few extra pounds they didn’t originally take with them; and I’m not talking sterling currency here.

Breakfast in America is not just an album by the old UK rock band Supertramp. It’s an institution not to be taken lightly (as if ‘lightly’ could ever apply to food in the US); it demands time and effort… and an expectation that you might be beaten by the challenge on more than one occasion.

Yolk is a great starting point on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. An unpresupposing exterior camouflages gastronomic morning mayhem. That’s why people are often queueing to get a table; but quintessential US counter culture (of the eating at the counter variety, not the return to flower power variety) gets me in immediately. The more than pleasant greeting of a young woman in a tee-shirt claiming to be ‘Handling your huevos since 2006’ provides a warm inner feeling long before the order arrives. It also leaves me lamenting… “who is going to handle my huevos when Duck One achieves his infantile wall building wish?” The ‘Works Omlet’ with a side of joyous noise eases me nicely into the lazy challenges of the day ahead. Marvellous!

Eggsperience, off the Michigan Avenue Magnificent Mile, keeps the theme of the hen going strong. Omelet or pancakes is the first decision of the day. Oh for such difficult decisions every day! A fleeting thought about a healthy orange juice and blueberry start to the day quickly succumbs to the need for sides of a pancake stack and bacon…

Eggsperience blueberry pancakes

But, a gaze over a shoulder also suggests another visit could be needed for that omelet option! Perhaps a vegetarian compromise could be made. Though perhaps all good vegetarians should be introduced to the necessity of a side of bacon!

Eggsperience vegetarian omlet

The famous Lou Mitchell’s, west of South Loop is an institution that should not be missed on any visit to Chicago. tired of blueberries? Why not add bananas to your pancake stack to bring some variety to the practice of indulgence? I think a side of raisin toast is also called for…

And, before leaving Chicago, get messy with a late morning Cubana sandwich at Xoco, a mere waddle from the aforementioned Eggsperience. A cucumber and lime drink might help balance the spicy fried pork and avocados wrap.

Not to be usurped in the breakfast challenge, New Orleans has its own crowds gathering to sample the delights of Ruby Slipper on Magazine Street. Again, the solo traveller gets to jump the queue with a stool at the counter. Time to try out the Louisianan Omlet of shrimp and grits, with a side of sourdough toast. A foundation fit to build any day upon.

Then there is the splendour of the Palace Cafe on Canal Street. A fine location to keep exploring the unique pleasures of a southern breakfast. This time the shrimp and grits are accompanied by a creole muniere ( don’t ask me, I’m just here to eat the stuff) for added spice to kickstart yet another day of challenging levels of relaxation!

Palace Cafe Canal Street [1]

Palace Cafe shrimp grits and creole muniere

Cafe Pontalba on Jackson Square is a place to trade the creole for a touch of the cajun in your culinary morning. A cajun omelet with side of cajun potatoes could just about provide sufficient ballast for a steamboat trip along the Mississippi…

Talking of Jackson Square; for those of us with an interest in cathedral architecture and the Louisiana State Museum, a corned beef hash at Stanley’s comes highly recommended while you gaze at the architectural heritage from the comfort of your diner counter stool.  If you like your eggs ‘sunny side’ let the yolks drain into the corned beef. Just don’t shout out ‘Stella’ in a Marlon Brando impersonation, lest you startle the staff and clientele alike.

Alas, it’s getting near the time to head for the airport. The hotel provides a last port of call, and quite possibly the last eggs I will want to see for, well at least a few days!

Hotel St Marie 2 eggs breakfast

Until we speak again, it is time to return to a good old UK diet. Next time you’re in America check out the title of an old Supertramp album for guidance, but drop any notion of three square meals a day being a good idea (unless square is the shape you are aspiring to achieve).

Zak Show dot Com

 

Kindness of strangers

Within all the horror of terrorist attacks, most recently Manchester and London in the UK, the abiding strongest message is the reporting of how strangers stop to help each other. But my recent travelling experiences to the USA have shown me that this is not only a response to terrorism.

Travelling solo to New Orleans and Chicago has left me with a great sense of how strangers are more than happy to meet, share thoughts and experiences, and are usually welcoming of people from different backgrounds.

So, to Victoria, Tom and Gayle in New Orleans, Laila in Biloxi, Steve in California, Bob in Massachusetts, Charlotte in Chicago, and Gayle and her sisters from Wisconsin… a special thanks for making a strangers travels a truly jazz funk of an experience…

Jazz Funk guys at RF's

And any blues were of the most welcoming kind (why, here is Buddy Guy in person!)…

Buddy Guy in person [2]

So until we speak again, to Jazz, Blues and all other musical cats everywhere, let the music do the communicating, as it spreads the love better than anything else! And celebrate the kindness of strangers.

Cat not home

So, there I was at BB King’s place. What else do you do for your 60th? He wasn’t there, but that was my fault, I didn’t tell him I was coming! However, some cool blues cats were present…

Thirst needed to be quenched, so do what the locals do… An ‘Urban South Holy Roller IPA’ might do the trick… 

But fabulous blues also seem to drive an  appetite. It looks like a hot beef ‘po boy’ is also called for…

So who needed the appetite interruption act? It seems that some cats just get preferential treatment, eating or not. 

Maybe I’m just being an over sensitive old git! Clearly some bluesmen have different priorities (if you catch my drift).

Anyway, the whole point of this ramble is just to remind my follower that a visit to Newawrlings is going to provide fabulous experiences, if you are ok about expecting unusual stuff!

Until we speak again, worry more about yourself. I’m just taking in ‘The Big Easy. 

Hurricane ‘Diff

You might think it is cool that us cats spend around 20 hours a day sleeping, but I for one pride myself on being fully alert to all that is going on in my local environment. Personally, I like to sleep with one eye open, so I can be instantly aware of the slightest stirring of any nocturnal creatures. During the day I sleep with the other eye open, so I can be aware of any potential food sources that busy themselves around the crack of lunch.

Understanding your local territory becomes essential for us warrior types. So you can imagine my surprise when I recently toured my adopted home city, only to find the strangest of happenings had occurred. I was first alerted to a potential catastrophe when I found a giant javelin had pierced the paving stones just outside of the central library, miles away from any athletics stadium.

Javelin stuck in concrete

I wouldn’t want to tangle with whoever threw that! But wait, it is not just something that one person could have caused… a force of nature had even bent all of the lamp-posts over:

Even the lamposts bent

As I turned another corner a tragic sight presented itself, and reminded me of the golden rule: when the going gets tough, let go! Unfortunately, this poor soul couldn’t have had time to react to whatever had struck the city with awesome force:

Should have let goI realised that local industries must have been decimated by something other than greedy owners, politicians and economists, as bits of shovels, axles and buckets lay where they landed in the most incongruous of places:

ShovelAnyone under that

Buckets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But perhaps most surprising of all

was my thought that every anchor needs a boat (even though I am originally from East London that isn’t rhyming slang for anything)… was this the clue I was looking for as to what had happened, could it be something to do with the power of the sea, and if so what has become of the Cardiff Bay barrage?

Every anchor needs a boatIn Cardiff you don’t see boats like you used to, but when you do they seem to be in the strangest of places, or was this another result of whatever had befallen the city while everyone was asleep:

Woods Brasserie [3]

I can only explain these strange happenings around the streets as being caused by some freak meteorological event… it is my conclusion that we have unwittingly experienced Hurricane ‘Diff. But before we seek the twinning of this fine city with that of New Orleans lets keep a sense of proportion, and be wise to any other explanation… it could be the first wave of an alien invasion in search of intelligent life, which is why they arrived in Cardiff, not in Swansea!

The good people of Cardiff should be assured that, to my knowledge, the only casualty seems to be the one who forgot to let go of their rope. All you other less fortunate readers (who don’t live in Cardiff) should also be assured that no animals or children were consumed in this story (unfortunately), so you can come visit the city without any fears.

To see more images of Cardiff street sculpture click on the link. None of my staff were referred to in this post as I have given them an hour off. See you again soon. Juno