Bashful Gets a Taste of Gumbo and Brass Bands

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It’s been a while since I’ve given you an update on Bashful’s New Orleans adventures. Every time I turn around, that little fella is hopping into my human mommy’s purse and they’re headed out the door. I finally got those two to sit down long enough to tell me where they’ve been and to share a few photos. Wow. They’ve been busy. A couple of weekends ago, Bashful joined both of my humans at Armstrong Park for the Treme Creole Gumbo Festival–New Orleans’ Premier Brass Band Showcase, which is presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. In New Orleans, we love a festival. There’s at least one every month–sometimes one each weekend of the month–and they usually revolve around tasty food and great music.

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This festival features gumbo of every sort you can imagine: creole gumbo, seafood gumbo, chicken and sausage gumbo, even vegan gumbo and smoked tofu and Portobello mushroom gumbo. (Just for the record, Mommy doesn’t recommend those last two.) Bashful had quite an appetite that day, so he also tasted some red beans and rice served with fried chicken and corn bread. (Mommy had a little bite of the fried chicken. She said it was one of the best things she’s ever eaten. She’s still talking about it.) Naturally, Bashful chose to chase down his festival food with a couple of local Abita Brewing Company Amber beers.

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With his taste buds satisfied (for the moment), it was time for Bashful to enjoy some brass band music. Brass bands are a new Orleans tradition. Rebirth Brass Band, Hot 8 Brass Band, and the Original Pinettes Brass Band, an all-female group, are some of the more well-known groups. Bashful settled in and listened to a few songs by the Panorama Jazz Band. It was my humans’ first time to see them perform, and they had every bit as much fun as Bashful.

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Having spent the afternoon enjoying two of New Orleans’ greatest offerings–gumbo and brass bands–Bashful had one more stop to make before leaving the festival. He headed straight over to visit Miss Linda, the Ya-Ka-Mein Lady. If you don’t live in New Orleans, you probably haven’t heard of ya-ka-mein. Here’s how Miss Linda’s website describes this local delicacy:

Ya-Ka-Mein is one of New Orleans’ well-best-kept secrets. It is a soup. They call it Old Sober. Ms. Linda is world famous as the guardian of the secret juice recipe in her Ya-Ka-Mein. Taught how to make the broth by her mother Shirley Green, Ms. Linda keeps the tradition by lacing the broth with the perfect mixes of spices–not quite Asian, not quite Southern–adding noodles, green onions, a hard-boiled egg and hot sauce. It’s a sure-fire remedy for a New Orleans’ size headache, which is why it’s known as “Old Sober.”

If Bashful keeps drinking that Abita Amber beer, he just might need another helping of Miss Linda’s famous ya-ka-mein.


HL Does NOLA from A to Z: A is for ARMSTRONG PARK

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Would you like to spend the month of April touring New Orleans from A to Z? As part of the A to Z Challenge, I’m going to take you from one end of my beautiful hometown to the other. We’ll see parks, shops, restaurants, and more. Ready to get started? Let’s go! Our A to Z tour of New Orleans begins with Armstrong Park, located in the city’s Treme neighborhood, just across Rampart Street from the famous French Quarter.

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The 31-acre park is named for New Orleans musician Louis Armstrong and celebrates the city’s music and cultural heritage.

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The site includes historic Congo Square, where slaves gathered during the 1700s and 1800s on Sunday–their day off–to sell goods, sing, dance, and play music.

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There’s a statue of the late Allison “Big Chef Tootie” Montana of the Yellow Pocahontas Mardi Gras Indian tribe. The Mardi Gras Indians trace their roots back to the days when American Indians aided runaway slaves. They showcase their unique music and spectacular beaded and feathered costumes at events like Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, and Super Sunday (the Sunday after Saint Joseph’s Day).

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The park’s New Orleans Municipal Auditorium once hosted Mardi Gras balls, professional basketball teams, and gambling. Closed since sustaining damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the auditorium has seen the start of restoration efforts, but a date for reopening is still uncertain.

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The Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts, named for New Orleans native and gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, also sustained flood damage following Hurricane Katrina but reopened in 2009 after extensive repairs and upgrades. Today it is home to the New Orleans Ballet Association, the New Orleans Opera Association, and Broadway Across America.

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Armstrong Park is a lovely spot to sit beneath the beautiful live oak trees . . .

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 . . . or watch the ducks glide across the pond. On your next trip to the Crescent City, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter and enjoy the history and peace and quiet of one of the city’s prettiest parks.

 

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z  Challenge. Please click here for a link to the challenge homepage and a list of  the bloggers who are participating.

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A quick note from Harper Lee’s mommy/blogging assistant: The possibility of starting–let alone finishing–the A to Z Challenge looked a little bleak yesterday. But I am happy to report that the computer geniuses with the Geek Squad came through in a big way and repaired my computer  in record time. So we are back on track and ready to take you through New Orleans from A to Z. By the way, that’s our city flag that you see behind Miss Harper Lee.