Crescent City

by Gena on October 14, 2009

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Happy Raw Wednesday!

How is everyone? Un-cooking some fantastic food, I hope.

As a New Yorker, I’ve always been a bit spoiled when it comes to having old friends nearby. Sure, we all scattered for college (except for those of us who were too hopelessly New York-centric to leave, and went to Columbia instead…), but I could always bask in the knowledge that my friends would return home for holidays, and I was fairly secure that we’d all end up here to pursue our careers.

For the most part, I was right. So of course it saddens me that Chloe, who is nothing short of a sister to me, has settled down south. Over time, I’ve come to terms with our separation by telling myself that she’s given me a good excuse to visit another great American city, and for this I’m very grateful. I’ve now visited New Orleans seven times, and I’ve come to love it as much as I can love any city that isn’t New York. Like my home town, it has a culture that’s vibrant and unmistakably its own; very few places can actually claim to be unique, but New Orleans is unlike any other place you’ll visit. Jubilant, beautiful, gritty, eerie–it’s all those things, and more.

In the years since Katrina, I’ve seen New Orleans regain so much of its spirit, and yet it remains haunted by that calamity and so many other problems: racial inequity, poverty, alcoholism. But what great city isn’t a hodgepodge of beautiful and ugly? None that I can think of. I’ve never been one for clean streets and pristine neighborhoods and picket fences; too much serenity makes me nervous.

My father likes to tell me that New Orleans is “wasted” on me because I can’t dig into crab etouffee and shrimp remoulade and guzzle hurricanes till daylight. He’s sort of right: I can’t really appreciate the nightlife or les bon temps like your average Jane, and certainly the drinking would grate on my nerves if I were down there permanently. I’m also not the sort of person who eats differently when I travel: I stick to high raw, all vegan, regardless of where I am (unless it’s virtually impossible). I like to remind my father, though, that the real New Orleans–the city that’s known to those who make lives there–bears little resemblance to the party town that greets tourists. New Orleaneans may party a bit more than the rest of us, but for the most part their lives are quite a bit like ours.

And to those who have financial means (which is to say, comfortably middle class people who can afford it), New Orleans offers Whole Foods, gyms, organic farmers markets, and so on. It offers, in other words, all of the staples of a healthy lifestyle. So there’s no reason why one should be confined to sazeracs and gumbo–unless, of course, one chooses to be!

And here’s one lovely benefit to living in NOLA–or in many cities outside of NYC. You can live in a house. Not a tiny studio, not a cramped one bedroom, not an overpriced closet. A house.

Behold, my best friend’s lovely dwelling:

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And check out this magnificent kitchen!

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After Chloe picked me up from the airport, we decided to hit up Whole Foods. Fortunately, Chloe and I are alike in that we both prefer to dine in than dine out. I purchased some Gena staples:

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You know a raw foodist is crashing at your place when…

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Yup. Thai coconuts and juice.

Where did you get the juice, you ask?

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Well, Chloe and I also paid a visit to the lovely Mid-City farmer’s market. This tiny enterprise is run by a few devoted farmers and food makers. It featured the usual rundown of produce (greens, tomatoes) and lots of great prepared foods: homemade fudge and candy (I picked some up for my coworkers); Middle Eastern food (Chloe got some really tasty hummus and lentil patties); and a terrific juice stand! The stuff is called Amanda’s juice, and it’s amaaazing! I tried a watermelon flavor that was delicious, and I brought some beet lemonade (also delicious) home with me. Thank you to the kind maker of the juices and his wife!

Here I am, juice in hand.

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And yeah, if you’re wondering, that’s a One Lucky Duck t-shirt. I’m a dork.

It was wonderful to see farmer’s markets alive and thriving in other cities. Here in NYC, where farmer’s markets and health food stores abound, it’s easy to forget that healthy food is (sadly) a geographical luxury. Thank God for the farmers and food makers who are bringing healthy, organic fare to every corner of the country.

On Friday, I woke up to the sweet sight of Chloe’s juicer:

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And treated us to some jucie. Then, I got to experience fitness, NOLA style, at Chloe’s gym:

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What a nice gym it was! Thanks to the folks at the Y for my guest pass. (Audobon Park, which is near Chloe’s home, also makes for some great morning runs when I visit).

For the most part, my eats this weekend resembled my eats when I’m home. Kale salads, guac, root veggies, a nut pate or two, tons of ripe heirlooms and squash and broccoli. A Larabar or two as snacks. Yummy, but nothing y’all aren’t used to. So rather than sharing my own meals, I’ll show off Chloe’s badass kitchen skills. A pescatarian, Chloe sticks to a mostly plant-based diet in a city where plant-based options can be tricky to find. Someday soon, she’s going to write a post for me about clean eating in the dirty south (yes, shmoopie, you are), but for now, I’ll only show you the sorts of amazing meals she routinely cooks up for friends at home.

First, she whipped up a giant ramen noodle pancake, which was finished with sesame and peanut oils in the oven:

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Then, she steam cooked some bok choy and shitakes in a peanut/sesame oil, veggie broth, ginger, soy, miso reduction:

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It was heaven!

She also seared up some tuna with a wasabi butter glaze. I missed the dish on the tray, but caught it on her plate:

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And here is my plate, which features two dishes I have yet to share with you all, but will in the future. They included a marinated portobello cap:

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On Sunday, Chloe, her fiance and I all decided to take a stroll around the French Quarter in search of antiques. A stop was made for gelato. I had some satsuma and fennel sorbet (sounds weird; tasted amazing) and scored Chloe a free gelato by guessing the mystery quotation by a famous poet (it was Dylan Thomas, for the record). Glad I’m putting that English degree to good use.

Here are some of the flavors we eyed:

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After that, we enjoyed the beauty of the French Quarter. This is the oldest and most famous neighborhood in New Orleans, and it’s the home of those lovely, wrought-iron balconies you’ve seen in photos:

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In another life, where I’m not an editor-nutritionist, I’m a historian. I did thesis work on slave history in literature, so being in a city where history feels so alive is a thrill for me.

I’ll end my little photo tour with a shot of the Mighty Miss. For all you Yankees who’ve never seen it (as indeed I hadn’t until I was twenty-two), I highly recommend a visit to The Crescent City at some point soon. It’s a pretty magical place.

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Have a great (raw) day.

xo

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

rhodeygirl October 14, 2009 at 10:23 am

Thanks for sharing your trip with us Gena. I am seriously impressed that you are able to eat raw while on vacation. You are more dedicated to your lifestyle than I ever will be :)

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Gena October 14, 2009 at 11:19 am

Yup! I stay pretty consistent, unless there are no options and I’m about to starve. But it comes easily to me.

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is October 14, 2009 at 10:54 am

Her house looks gorgeous! I can’t imagine eating raw on vaca.

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Peggy October 14, 2009 at 11:00 am

Welcome back! Beautiful pictures and so nice for you to have spent some time with a dear friend.

Happy Raw Wednesday!! I’m easing into it and only plan to be semi-raw (we’ll see; maybe that will change) and as luck would have it my Vita-Mix arrived today!! The Super 5200 with the dry container. Yay!! I’ve whipped up a quart of green smoothie and am now off to nap before night shift.

I’m very much loving your blog. It’s incredibly informative and very, very inviting.

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coco October 14, 2009 at 11:01 am

how fun to be with a friend in a different city! :D

A unrelated question. Do you keep drinking juice in winter? Because I notice that lately after I drink veggie juice (romaine, cucumber, celery, lemon, ginger and 1/2 apple) I get extremely cold. Is it normal? does it happen to you too?

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Gena October 14, 2009 at 11:20 am

Hey coco! Yes, juice is very cooling. I spice mine up with ginger in the winter!

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Manda October 14, 2009 at 12:23 pm

a sprinkle of cayenne is also delicious and warming

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Maggie October 14, 2009 at 11:14 am

I am always torn between New York and living in a house. But this weekend we made the decision – it’s back to NY. I didn’t know you went to Columbia! Columbia and Cornell were my 2 top choices, and I went with Cornell… but I think Columbia would actually have been a better fit. Oh, well :)

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Gena October 14, 2009 at 11:21 am

Hey Mags! Columbia was great, but I was off campus working and interning the whole time, so I can’t say much about the texture of campus life, per se.

And I’ll take an NYC zip code over space any day, but that’s just me…

How great that you’re moving back!!

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Runeatrepeat October 14, 2009 at 11:22 am

I love reading about traveling. Thanks :)

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Nicole October 14, 2009 at 11:23 am

Wow, New Orleans is gorgeous! I’m glad you had a lovely time, Gena. I love your 1LD shirt!

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VeggieGirl October 14, 2009 at 11:32 am

Gena, this post is so beautiful – thank you for pointing out that there’s more to NOLA than the “stereotypical stuff” (you know what I mean ;) ). I have not ventured there in years (used to have cousins living there, but one of their homes was destroyed in Katrina and they moved out of their other house), but your photos brought back memories of how wonderful of a city it truly is.

Oh and I totally have that same t-shirt, color and all :-D

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) October 14, 2009 at 11:42 am

Great post Gena! Thanks for the bird’s eye view of NOLA. I lived in the South for 4 yrs and although it’s not my thing and we’ve moved on, housing sure is affordable!

Enjoy your time with your friend and have a ball down there!

Love the shirt, off to do some online shopping….

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Leah October 14, 2009 at 11:59 am

Thank you for portraying my city in such a beautiful light! I love that some people are able to see past the drinking and violence to see what it truly has to offer…you went to my favorite farmer’s market that my mother and I frequent every week, and the first picture is actually 5 minutes from my home! I am very curious though, what was the name of the gelato place? I normally stick to the same place uptown near Audobon, but by the looks of the flavors, the place you went seems fabulous!

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AnnaO October 14, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Thanks for another great post. Looks like you had a lovely time!

So, Raw Wednesday! Today I had a raw-until-dinner day: morning veggie juice, a lovely salad with tomato and dulse for lunch, snacked on some homemade raw carob brownies and I also had some raw veggies with my cooked dinner. This is a rather typical day for me (although I try to exclude the raw brownies…) Happy Raw Wednesday everyone!

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Yoga Witch October 14, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Thanks for those awesome pics! What a beautiful place.

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Christine October 14, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Beautiful pics, what a fun city to visit.

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Teresa October 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Wow! The south is pretty much the only region of the US I have NEVER been to, so seeing your photos was really cool for me. I absolutely love the style of houses in the south- so much different than what I’m used to in California. Thank you so much for sharing them as well as your adventures there. It sounds like you and Chloe had a great visit.

Those juices from the farmer’s market sound really good. I love that no matter where you go, you can pretty much count on a farmer’s market being close enough to visit. I could almost smell the sesame miso goodness reading about Chloe’s bok choy dish. But I can’t wait to hear more about the portabello, seeing as mushrooms are one of my favorite foods, yet I’m really nervous about preparing them raw and have abstained from doing so.

Happy Raw Wednesday indeed!

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Sarah (LovIN My Tummy) October 14, 2009 at 1:24 pm

If you can go raw in NOLA, I can go vegan in Vegas, right? Chris has been wanting to take me forever, but he doesn’t drink and I don’t gamble or eat animal products. How much fun can we have? I’m so glad you enjoyed your time with Chloe!

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Manda October 14, 2009 at 3:08 pm

I believe I read on VeggieGirl’s blog something about raw options in Vegas – was more than a couple of months ago

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Lauren October 14, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Great post, lovely pics. Looks like you had a great time!

I just read the guest post by Sarah and I have the same idea for feeding my kids. Vegan at home, whatever they choose out of home. I hope they would make good decisions though. And I will let them choose as teens if they want to be vegans or not. :)

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A October 14, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Beautiful pics!!!
-A

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Emily (A Nutritionist Eats) October 14, 2009 at 2:35 pm

I was just in NOLA, seeing the French Quarter pics bring back so many memories! Unfortunately on my trip, I didn’t have as many greens and veggies as I would have prefered! :)

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Heather October 14, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Wow, I’ve wanted to visit New Orleans for some time now, but now I am putting it top priority! So glad you got to visit Chloe and spend some time relaxing. We all know you’re a crazy workaholic, so it was a much deserved vacation! Today’s Raw Wednesday has been good to me: I made my own hemp milk! Success!

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Emily October 14, 2009 at 3:05 pm

beautiful photos of NOLA (I visited last spring). Very interested in how Chloe eats well in the South. :-)

love your lucky duck t!!

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Tracy October 14, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Gena, you are such a fantastic writer. I’d read your blog even if there were not pictures!

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Manda October 14, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Love the photos! Glad you had a great time. And I must second you that Chloe needs to guest blog! I live about an hour North of NOLA, and it’s been a bit challenging being mostly vegan and high raw living down here. We do have a Whole Foods, which is wonderful, but it is very reflective of the food culture down here (big on the meat, no chance of a juice bar or raw goodies). And it’s pretty much the only place for limited organics. I’m used to having more of a selection.
I’ll have to hit up that market on my next trip across the bridge. We had family in town and went strolling around the French Quarter yesterday. Eating out was interesting, the only veg option on the menu was a greek salad – iceburg lettuce, a couple of olives, some onion slices. Better than nothing, for sure. :)
Would love to hear about your marinated mushrooms – portabellos are a favorite.

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Alison October 14, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Looks like you are having a fab time – I’m so envious of juice stands, there are NONE around here. I love making my own but sometimes it’s nice to have someone else make it for you and not have to worry about the clean up! ;)

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Julia October 14, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Loved the photo essay! And thanks for showing us how (read: inspiring me) to maintain the raw lifestyle while traveling. I always make accommodations while traveling because I “don’t want to be a bother” to those I am with, but reading your blog these past months has really made me stronger when it comes to dealing with the social environment in the eternal clash of the SAD and raw.

Also, I am going to New Orleans in November! So this was a fun post for me in that way.

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Shari B. October 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Hi Gena,

I started reading your blog a few months back and don’t post comments very often, but just had to post a note to say (1) I ADORE your blog and (2) thank you for sharing the recap and photos of your trip. New Orleans is on my list of places I absolutely must see someday. Seeing your pics makes me want to order plane tickets pronto!

Thank you for providing such a great service to your readers!

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leslie October 14, 2009 at 4:00 pm

i’ve got to get down to new orleans on of these days. your photos are gorgeous! i’d love to hear what chloe has to say; it sounds like she eats very similarly to me.

ps: love your dorky t-shirt. you’re adorable!

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Ada October 14, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Yay for New York-centric people like ourselves! Everyone thought I was crazy for remaining in the city for college, but the city offers so many great opportunites and is such a great place. I’m glad you enjoyed your time in New Orleans!

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Whitney @ Lettuce Love October 14, 2009 at 4:26 pm

I have never been to New Orleans but I am dying to go — it looks beautiful.

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Twins-pure2raw October 14, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Glad you had a great trip!! I have not been to New Orleans since I was young, so I cannot wait to go back sometime. I am happy to see the city has options for people like us : ) I agree it is nice to see farmers markets thriving in all areas of the country!!

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Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries October 14, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Haha I love your description of New York centric Columbia collegiates :)

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Kristen October 14, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Just got teary eyed reading this post! I went to Tulane University and I miss NOLA so much! Audubon Park is my favorite for a run…and loove loove the giant Whole Foods :) So glad you were able to experience the uniqueness and beauty of such a great city–i loved reading about it! :)

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Kelsey October 14, 2009 at 7:30 pm

that is such a beautiful city!!! im glad you had a great time!

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BroccoliHut October 14, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Wow, looks and sounds like you had a great trip! Love the fridge shot:)

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melissa October 14, 2009 at 9:42 pm

love! I feel like I almost went on vacation for the last few minutes, your writing and photos provide such a lovely escape. The french quarter style architecture is so lovely. I really need to get to NOLA! PS love the O.L.D. shirt!

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The voracious Vegan October 15, 2009 at 5:07 am

Next time I make it back to the states I really want to visit New Orleans. I have always been fascinated with the city and its history, but I’ve never made it for a visit! We will have to change that! Gorgeous photos, thanks for sharing!

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Beth @ DiningAndDishing October 15, 2009 at 12:50 pm

I love love love New Orleans!! I visited it about a year and a half ago with one of my friends who was working on a cruise ship at the time and fell in love. It’s such a unique and culturally rich city – not to mention it’s vibrancy post-Katrina. Your pics are beautiful!

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