There is a certain feeling of displacement that you get from air-travel, I call it a “how the hell did I get here?” moment. Your body is physically in the place but your mind is still 12,000km away drifting over the sea at its leisure and you feel like a stranger in a strange land. I first noticed this effect when I flew from a balmy Sydney summer to the snow capped Swiss alps. After many hops, skips and jumps across the sea and a Hogwarts Express ride around the picturesque Lake Geneva, I arrived in the opulent ski town of Verbier. I excitedly procured some skis, jumped on the affectionately named bubble and up I went.
And up..and up…for about 30 minutes until I was presented with this snow capped mountain vista. I suddenly thought to myself “how the hell did I get here?”
Finally reaching the 3,329 m peak of Mont Fort, I stepped out of the bubble and took a deep breath of that fresh icy mountain air. Cold tendrils seeped deep into my lungs and froze my nose, shocking me to the present. Without getting too spiritual, through connecting with my senses I was grounded in the moment and could fully appreciate what a unique and beautiful place I’d roamed to.
You might be thinking, why so much writing about the Swiss Alps in a story about New Orleans? Well, I had that exact same “how the hell did I get here?” moment when I touched down in steamy Louisiana.
Again the change of seasons seems to play a role as I flew from a (admittedly mild) Sydney winter to a muggy New Orleans night. I dropped my bags at the hotel, had a quick shower and excitedly headed out to meet my friends and soak up the atmosphere.
Food always being at the forefront of my mind I spotted a likely candidate on Frenchman Street called Dat Dog. With a wide southern style sweeping balcony it looked perfect for surveying the scene. Plus…hot dogs!!
Not just any hot dogs, southern themed hot dogs! I spotted this gem, a Crawfish Étouffée Dog, and it had my name all over it.
CRAWFISH ETOUFFEE DOG – Dat Dog
Crawfish Sausage, Homemade Crawfish Étouffée, Sour Cream, Onions, Tomatoes, & Creole Mustard.
Not quite knowing what Étouffée was we asked a friendly foodie local (Philly is local right?) that we befriended on the journey. She informed us that it is a local Cajun style dish made by making a blonde roux and simmering it with seafood, usually shrimp or crawfish (also known as crayfish), then seasoned with Cajun spices and served over rice. On a side note Étouffée means to suffocate in French, so I guess the crawfish is suffocated in the roux in this dish.
Image courtesy of Louisiana Travel
This handy one minute recipe video by Louisiana Travel will get you inspired to crack some crawfish tails. Follow the link for the full recipe. I’ve cooked this one at home and it’s seriously good.
The hot dog went down a treat with a hint of Cajun spice and that rich crawfish flavour it didn’t last long in the basket.
It was a hot and humid night so I ordered myself a tasty local beer to keep myself refreshed. As I sipped my beer I surveyed the unique streetscape of the French Quarter. The French Colonial architecture has a distinct New Orleans signature, painted in bright hues of an almost jarring combination.
Suddenly, on the street corner directly opposite me a streetwear clad jazz band formed out of no where. They started playing and immediately a crowd formed and started dancing, a street party developed in front of my eyes. As sipped my beer, took some snaps of the scene around me and finished off my crawfish hotdog I thought, “how the hell did I get here?”
After soaking up the scene for a little while, once again I was swept up by my environment. The rhythm of the music was intoxicating, so I grabbed my beer in it’s handy street friendly plastic cup and headed down to dance the streets of New Orleans.