A love letter to... New Orleans
It was a silly idea to try to get pregnant in New Orleans. That city is too damned hot. The air is saturated with moisture, like a wet woollen blanket on a summer's day.
So instead, we got drunk. Sweet and sickly grape-flavoured Hurricanes at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, tart refreshing sazeracs in Napoleon House, and bottles of Blue Moon collected from the petrol station on Esplanade Ave. The city wants you to drink, in the bars, on the streets. We accepted the invitation with enthusiasm.
And then we ate. At Port of Call, toppling burgers held together by orange cheese, an entire baked potato with bacon, cheese and sour cream as a side dish. At Li'l Dizzy's, gumbo and bread and butter pudding. At Willie Mae's, fried chicken and green beans.
• Armchair travel: How to visit London's West End for a virtual theatre fix
• Armchair travel: See the UK's best gardens and taste food from around the world
• Armchair travel: How to see the Louvre virtually, when you can't get to the Louvre
• Steve Braunias: Armchair travel - the best travel writer there ever was
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
We watched the World Oyster Eating Competition, a repugnant exhibition of gluttony and machismo. Except the winner, the only woman in a line-up of oversized men, was the petite and legendary Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, who swallowed 288 oysters in eight minutes. It was far from her record of 564, but the oysters were big that year. Afterwards, we danced in the sunshine to 90s pop sensations the Gin Blossoms, 20 years too late.
It rained a lot on Nola's parades. The rain won't leave the city alone, but the people party on. We walked the notorious Bourbon St at a clip, past the dive bars and strip clubs, and staggering tourists with their go-cups full of sweet liquor and NOLA T-shirts and baseball caps. The city is a madhouse.
We walked down Frenchman St, with its buskers and food trucks. We stopped into a jazz bar, and learnt that the barmen have no time for spirit measures, pouring 80mL whiskies and taking tips per pour.
We watched enviously through the window of the Spotted Cat as swing dancers threw each other around the dance floor. We vowed to take up swing dancing as soon as we were home.
Fifteen months later, a wedding. The first dance was swing. Our son slept right through it.