Bourdain: How To Appreciate New Orleans

bourdain-layover-final-season“There is no other place on earth even remotely like New Orleans. Don’t even try to compare it to anywhere else.” ~Anthony Bourdain

New Orleans is a huge tourist destination so it’s often featured in various travel media. Trouble is, usually it’s all about the French Quarter and not so much about all the other areas of the city. Not so on the latest episode of The Layover, Anthony Bourdain’s newest travel-foodie-culture show on The Travel Channel. The French Quarter is visited but so are Bywater, Uptown, Bucktown, Gretna and other areas. The next time I’m feeling the NOLA Blues like when another politician is indicted, or when it’s another swimming-in-the-humidity hot-ass summer day or by one more incident of an innocent bystander shot in the street, I’m gonna whip out this show on my DVR to remind myself why I stay and why I love it.

I confess to being a Bourdain fan who’s watched almost every episode of No Reservations but I also will confess to snarky skepticism when he was involved with writing a couple of Treme episodes. What’s a celeb from New York know about New Orleans? I kinda take it back. This in-depth episode proves he doesn’t just skim the surface of NOLA culture and cuisine; he digs deep and reveals the real New Orleans. The whole production was beautiful and I especially loved the clips of locals giving tourist advice and opining on New Orleans colloquialisms and eccentricities. In between and during segments vignettes of street life, neighborhoods, parks and architecture are featured in all their splendor both shiny and shabby.

So here are a few tantalizing tidbits from the show which should make you run to the website to watch this episode. I don’t want to totally give it away.
“New Orleans. The French Quarter. Yeah, yeah, yeah and go right ahead – it’s fun. But the outer neighborhoods of New Orleans are where you should be going.” ~Anthony Bourdain

Bourdain prowls the city with several locals including Davis Rogan, Lolis Eric Elie, John Besh, Donald Link and his favored cabbie, Elliot Flood. (Next time also seek ye out a woman to hang with, Tony!) Davis Rogan talked about being a native, life here, music and, of course, food. I want to meet this guy one day – he was a kick. bourdain and rogan

Favorite quote:

“Then I went away to college, I went to Portland, Oregon and I discovered how terribly white the rest of the world is and that The Grateful Dead is an organized f***ing religion and I just ran screaming for my Professor Longhair and my Meters records and never looked back.” ~Davis Rogan
Yeah, you right.

I loved, loved, loved the rapport between Bourdain and Chef Besh, who I think is so ultra cool, at Pho Tau Bay (yay, Wank!) and I love hearing him talk about NOLA. Favorite quote:

“Hurricane Katrina hit and it changed everything for me. Prior to the storm, August was about winning awards, having my name in the newspaper and, in a way it was really just all about me. Just cooking for my ego. Then after the storm it became a quest to rebuild, make a difference, do good where we can….” ~John Besh

“Be a traveler, not a tourist. Drink heavily with strangers” ~Anthony Bourdain

Down the hatch. Drinks and bars were heavily featured and all looked amazing. bourdain in kingpin

A list of bars visited or mentioned:

Sazerac Bar
French 75 Bar
New Orleans Originial Daquiri’s
R Bar
The Kingpin
Le Bon Temps Roule
Three Muses Jazz Club
Snake and Jakes

“The main thing is, we drink to have a good time. Drinking is not the end. Life is supposed to be fun. You don’t have to turn off your senses in order to suddenly have fun.” ~ Lolis Eric Elie

Food, food and more food. I always marvel at how much food Bourdain appears to eat on his shows. Where does he put it?bourdain-layover_210_new-orleans_ss_007_596x334

A list of restaurants visited or mentioned:

The Crab Trap
Cochon Butcher
Dookey Chase
Pho Tau Bay
Satsuma Cafe
R & O’S
Big Fisherman’s Seafood
Taceaux Loceaux

Music. Bourdain loves Rebirth Brass Band. Music venues visited or mentioned:

The Maple Leaf
One Eyed Jack’s
Rock n Bowl

All in all a very satisfying whirlwind of a visit that was sweet, sassy and satisfying. Thanks for getting it right, Anthony, and come again.

“New Orleans is a glorious mutation.” ~Anthony Bourdain

All photos via The Travel Channel.

PS – Via a Taceaux Loceaux tweet, here is a petition to change the food truck laws in  New Orleans.

17 thoughts on “Bourdain: How To Appreciate New Orleans

  1. I loved the episode. It was grittier than most food travels through the city that only hit the tourist spots. It also made me run out for Pho for dinner last night. Fortunately, I’m already on the Wank, so it was easy 😉

  2. We HAD to go to Pho Tau Bay yesterday at 9 am when they open to enjoy Pho and congratulate them on the great coverage. I loved when Besh said to Bourdain as they turned into the dingy parking lot, “I only take you to the best places.” LOL.

  3. I just watched this last night. I was saying on twitter that I had mixed feelings, but I woke up this morning liking it more (I usually see what’s wrong with everything first though – like Skooks 😛 ) Anyway, LOVED that he got away from the quarter. Also, I’ll give Davis this, he IS interesting. I rarely like someone who annoys me so much. The only bummer is that now I’ll have to avoid every place profiled in that episode for the next 6 months due to lines.

  4. Great article! I was as well, overall happy with the content of the show. I’ve struggled as a tour guide to entice people to get out of the FQ, or at least off of Bourbon St. I know it’s difficult for someone from typical surburban America to embrace the often gritty nature of this beautiful city. Yet, one of my favorite things to tell visitors is, “If the only thing you are seeing when your come to New Orleans is Bourbon St., then you’re missing the point.

  5. @Lisa & @Maria: can you believe I live in Algiers and have never been to Pho Tau Bay? That’s gotta be a blasphemy I’ll soon change.

    @Pistolette: I know what you mean. I thought the same thing, that we’ll have bigger crowds at these places now for a while. But he did us proud and it’s good PR for our local businesses.

    @cmqulotta & @Gayle Thanks for your comments & thanks to @Dianne for the compliment!

    @Davis: Thanks for stopping by! I’m sure all the food he eats serves a dual purpose – one being to help in the absorption of copious amounts of alcohol. As it should be!

    @Kim: you are so right! Bourbon Street may have an understandable attraction for tourists but the real fun is anywhere else. Thanks for the comment.

  6. i loved it and was thrilled we finally got to see something about new orleans that wasn’t all about the quarter.
    my only wish is that he had explored Lakeview & Mid City a bit more. guess it wasn’t hipster enough for the show.

    • I was just thrilled they took a ride over the bridge to the Westbank. We get less positive PR than LV & Mid-city combined. 🙂
      Missing other city neighborhoods gives him a good reason to come back!

  7. Good shtufffs!…….Here were on a broadcasting delay of a couple weeks, so I’ll pick up the show then. Food culture and local haunts t’z the only way to get to know a place.

  8. Thanks for the post! The Wife and I are both huge Bourdain fans and Nola lovers.

    The show was a small fix for us since after 8 years of coming down to New Orleans, we will have to skip it this year due to other commitments.

    We were both pleasantly surprised to see Davis since we saw him play at Three Muses last year, brought back great memories of him tearing it on the keys. We were both happy and sad to have Frenchmen Street mentioned, glad for the publicity, but sad for the publicity also. Most tourists don’t even know it exists, and are clueless when we mention it as an outstanding place to see music. Hopefully it won’t become too over run by people going there just to be seen.

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