St. Bernard Parish and Chalmette


Apparently, a number of you are concerned I've been spending way too much time stuffing my bulging, obese form with Creole and Cajun food from the city's best restaurants and have been callously avoiding the human tragedy of the city. I should be ashamed of myself, and well, I'm a bad person.

Well, locals (including the Mayor himself) have been telling me that they are more than happy to let me spend my hard earned dollars and my yearly vacation time in their wonderful city so it can help bring back what was once a thriving tourist and restaurant industry, and that while that everbody who comes here should see the devastation, they really don't want the affected portions of the city to be a tourist attraction. People live here and are trying to survive, and bring back some semblance of normality.

That being said, Rachel and I rented a car today and headed towards some of the worst hit parts of the area, St. Bernard Parish and the town of Chalmette. I've made an album on Flickr for those of you who really want to see this stuff, but here's some just to let you know I am quite aware of the reality of the situation.

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Now if some of you holier-than-thou assholes don't mind, I'm going to get back to the food.

5 Responses to St. Bernard Parish and Chalmette

  1. Frolic says:

    Jason,

    I’ll just repost what I said over at eGullet:

    “Rachel, I don’t know if the people who said that read eGullet, but I’d like to address them directly.

    “People who know nothing about the city seem to want to tell others how to treat us and speak about us. How dare you claim that only images of trauma are appropriate when speaking of New Orleans. We still live here, and even though times are tough life does go on. New Orleans may be half dead, but it’s still got more life than most American cities.

    “Yes, we need tourists money. There is no doubt about that. I think, however, that there is another reason why we’re so grateful when anyone visits.

    “Knowing that people can still be enchanted by the food and the architecture and the culture of New Orleans reminds us why we love the place. Somedays, it’s hard for us to see it.

    “I’ve had the pleasure of escorting several first time visitors through New Orleans recently. When they see the beauty of the place, even in the face of all our troubles, it reconfirms for me that I made the right decision in returning.

    “If we followed the advice of those fools and only focused on the negative, I’m afraid it would break our spirit and we’d never rebuild New Orleans.”

  2. Tim P. says:

    Jason,

    I have been reading, with great interest mind you, the forums over at eGullet and want to thank you and your wife for the great posts over the years, in particular about New Orleans. We planned our first trip back to New Orleans Post-Katrina last month; researching the foods I grew up with was part of the run-up to the trip. It was wonderful to have such great references to po-boy joints and sno-ball stands.

    As a native New Orleanian I would like to personally thank you both for the service you have done in maintaining (if not preserving) a unique culture that many people don’t get.

    I want to also extend an invitation to the nay-sayers and sanctimonious folks to get your butts down to New Orleans and see for yourselves before you speak “your piece”. There is no “one way” to help out; just coming and visiting and spending some money helps every little bit. Folks down there are eager to get on with their lives and talking to them (which we do readily there, it’s our culture) may give you some broader insight rather than sitting around looking at “disaster porn” and wringing your hands all day. So before you ask “Why would you want to live in a toilet?” Go and see the “toilet” for yourself.

    I no longer live there, but New Orleans will always be a huge part of who I am. Everytime I go back I blend in seamlessly like well laid carpet and it feels like I’m breathing air again, and would rather give up the ghost than see my people vanish. From the bottom of my heart, thank you again… your contributions don’t go unnoticed.

    -Tim Pulling

  3. kitchenmage says:

    New Orleans has long been on my list of places to visit when I get a chance and, while I know it won’t be exactly the same as it was BK (before katrina), I’m still looking forward to it.

    Maybe it’s just some mythology I’ve picked up but I see New Orleans as one of those places where a certain amount of death and decay is part of the warp and weft of the city…and that’s a good thing. What I see there is about being in touch with your roots, even when those roots are submerged, and acknowledging that not everything is shiny happy people leaning on white picket fences. Somethimes is not-so-shiny, not-so-happy, people leaning on each other. Reminds me of life somehow.

    Having said that, in looking through the pictures in the collection of NO posts here, I see lots of faces that look like people I’d like to know…smiling at the camera over a plate of marvelous looking food. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  4. Joan says:

    I know who you’re talking about and frankly they can go screw themselves.

  5. ivan says:

    Right on, Jason!

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