King Cake and other Mysteries

I sat next to some tourists Tuesday morning at Envie, which is not unusual in itself, but one of the women was loud, as only New Jersey or Long islanders can be loud, and had clearly read the guidebook. She laid out the day’s activities to her friends, explaining why the sites to see were important using some very arguable facts(like Bourbon Street was named after the whiskey sold there), and as she walked out she exclaimed: “What the hell is this king cake they all talk about? I haven’t seen one anywhere.” It is always good to run into an expert.

It was another warm day, and I walked to the framing shop in the Quarter, enjoying the heat of the day. Town is definitely taking a pause before the weekend that includes the Krewe of Cork, the first mechanized parades Uptown, and Barkus, the pet parade through the Quarter. I spent an hour in Mollie’s, and was asked by Boog to review a piece of comedy routine he was writing. I was a little out of my depth, but it was fun to see the writing process. I can barely remember jokes and hadn’t really considered the effort that goes into a comedy routine.

After a simple dinner in the courtyard, I headed out towards Frenchmen Street and ran into the Roots of Music kids marching on Pauger at Burgundy. They were headed into the Treme, and I peeled off. As I approached the R bar it started to sprinkle,and I ducked under the awning in time for it to pour. It was raining so hard that it bounced head high off the pavement. I felt bad for the marching band far from shelter. I’ll bet those kids got soaked. It rained hard for an hour or so, and I stayed at the R bar until the storm was well past. A woman named Heidi pulled up with a taco truck and cooked some excellent street tacos. I split an order of shredded beef tacos with Michael Wilder. They were excellent, letting the meat flavor carry without overspicing, and the tortillas were fresh and handmade. The chicken ones looked and smelled good as well. These were better than the much more expensive ones I had at Three Muses earlier in the week. I missed the music on Frenchmen, but it was not a bad place to wait out the rain.

I walked across to the Rouse’s after coffee the next morning, buying some greens and a baguette. I walked back down Royal Street, and a man in his 20s with a heavy French accent ran after me and grabbed my arm, asking where he could get bread. My directions were going over his head, so I walked back a block with him to show him the little bread cubbie in the grocery store. That was one happy man. I should have asked for a tip.

After a good lunch of salad and smoked fish in the courtyard in the sun, I walked into the Quarter again to pick up a package at the mail drop and had a Happy Hour Floridita daiquiri at Manolito as I dodged rain showers. Heather was throwing a 17th birthday party for her dog Radar, and had cooked clam chowder and biscuits for the R bar crowd. I had some of her chowder and called it an early night.

I contacted the Krewe du Fool, and was invited to walk in a big Uptown parade, Freret, with Trombone Shorty as the honored guest, down St. Charles from Napoleon to the CBD. The guy seemed cool on the phone, and their main event is a walking parade through the Marigny on April Fools Day, right before I leave New Orleans. The Krewe is low key and low cost, and based in my neighborhood. It is a little uncomfortable just joining a group of strangers for a day of acting foolish in public, but pushing boundaries may just be why I am here.

I walked into Envie to find a woman dressed in full fortune teller garb, dirty from head to toe, reading a “psychic journey through science” book, and droning. They were clearly words, perhaps imaginary or perhaps in a language I don’t recognize, and she stared at me as she droned. She had bones and crystals on the table in front of her which she was rearranging, and occasionally jammed a geode fragment into her neck. I’m absolutely sure she is the real deal, either completely crazy or in touch with some other plane of existence. Either way, she would have been burned at the stake a couple of hundred years ago. I’m not particularly superstitious, but did sneak as I took her photograph. I don’t need a curse.

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