The Mississippi River looked the same, to be perfectly honest. Just as swift, just as muddy. The barges, bridges and riverboats weren’t too different either. But the further you get from the river, the more different the two cities look. [street view of St. Louis' riverfront, to compare]
New Orleans and St. Louis (my hometown) were both founded by the French. New Orleans has undoubtedly retained more of that influence, but it was fun to find similarities (such as French street or place names) during our trip there last weekend.
We indulged in beignets at Cafe du Monde and delicious char-broiled oysters at the New Orleans Oyster Festival (I’m still fantasizing about the oysters). However, I almost lost my lunch after watching competitors scarf down dozens of oysters during the festival’s eating contest. The champion ate 39 dozen oysters (do the math: 468 oysters) in eight minutes, a rate of roughly one oyster per second. Impressive, but a bit of a travesty in my mind. If you’re eatin’ good oysters, you should savor every bite.
And we did do things other than eat, if you got that impression. We visited the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and watched an IMAX movie (Hurricane on the Bayou) about Louisiana’s wetlands before and after Katrina. It was produced by the same people who made the Everest IMAX movie, and you can tell.
We also stopped at Our School at Blair Grocery, in a neighborhood that was profoundly affected by Hurricane Katrina (it was underwater for a long period of time). Turner, who we met, is trying to prove that growing and selling food can help kids learn the skills they need to succeed. There’s an article about it here. We got a little dirty making mulch out of food scraps (fruit rinds etc. donated by Whole Foods). We also happened to meet Chewy, the teensiest cat I’ve ever seen: