What exactly is a "Tchoupitoulas" anyway?

One of the things in New Orleans that is really strange to me is the spelling and pronounciation of Street, City and Parish (county) names. There are several names that I could never figure out how to pronounce if not for a little help from some of the locals. I decided to find out a little bit more about what these words meant. Below are a few examples.

Plaquemine (Plack a min), a parish and bayou. From the Mobilian (Indian) word "piakimin", which means persimmon.
Tchoupitoulas (chop a too les), a street in New Orleans and a French settlement outside of N.O. at one time. The name of an extinct Indian tribe. Also means "River People".

Calliope Street (Cal' i ope) (The "ope" said like nope--no "e" heard) Don't ask where "Cal-lie-o-pea" is, nobody will understand what street you're looking for!

Carondelet St.- not pronounced like the French (cor on do ley), but instead the T is pronounced.
Burgundy St.- seems easy right? We all know how to pronounce this. But wait - there is a stress on the UN, so intead of "burg andy" it is "burg UN dy". I wonder how they say caramel.Marigny (mar in knee)- Got its name from Frenchman, Bernard Marigny who introduced craps to the US. Faubourg Marigny is considered the first suburb of New Orleans. The Marigny neighborhood is a maze of angular streets that form triangles, pentagons and squares. Numbers jump their sequence mid-block and so do street names. Spanish, French Creoles, Italians, Germans, Irish and many free persons of color were among the first ethnic inhabitants to live in this section of the city.
Pontchatrain- the lake was named after Louis Phélypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain, the French Minister of the Marine, chancellor of France and minister of finance during the reign of France's "Sun King," Louis XIV, for whom Louisiana is named.

For more info, go to:
http://www.experienceneworleans.com/glossary.html or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_orleans

Slim's take two...

Get this! The exact same day I wrote the last blog, I went to Slim Goodies and.... They have printed menus! And their prices have gone up! I am so disappointed....


The Story of Slim Goodies

We go there every Sunday without fail. We are greeted at the door by the owner, who's name is Kappa. The waitresses wear striped tights like the Wicked Witch of the West. The seats are red pleather and the menus are handwritten. You can get breakfast at any time for under 7 dollars. You can bring your own champagne and make mimosas. It feels like home.

The first time I went to Slim Goodies was about one month after Katrina. We sat in the backyard; the fence was knocked over, the trees were all broken and torn and limbs were strewn across the yard. We did not get a menu; instead the waitress, who's name was Katie, came up to us and asked, "vegetarian or not?" We told her which we were and she brought us out an array of goodies served on paper plates. I think I had pancakes and a biscuit. And coffee, also served in a paper cup. And water served in a bottle. I think my meal cost about 3.50 or 4 dollars.

Slim's has come a long way since the first time I ate there. They do have a menu now, but it is handwritten and you can order things such as "the little goat" (one of my favorites), "the guatemalan", "the jewish coon ass" (dont get me wrong, this is a really good sandwich - 2 potato latkes topped w/fresh spinach, 2 eggs, crawfish etouffee, biscuit) and the "fancy pants" (Chris' favorite and the first time he ordered it, I thought he was calling the waitress names). They have real plates and cups. Katie is gone; she went to Denver.

It may have changed a lot, but it is still the best breakfast place in New Orleans and maybe even anywhere. So every Sunday, we buy a bottle of champagne, round up the troops and head to Slim's for breakfast/brunch/lunch, where we gorge ourselves on fancy pants and joe.


Third Time's a Charm?

Yes, I'm back. Back again....

I have returned again to Louisiana (for the third time in a year) to continue working with the Education systems that were affected by Hurricane Katrina. I am working in the same office (New Orleans) as I was before, doing the same job with the same clients. However, the dynamic of the group in the office has changed very much. When I was here before, there was a very large group (about 20-30 at any given time) that would all hang out together on the weekends, on the weekdays and at lunch. I arrived back expecting the same thing, even though I knew that everyone had gone home months ago.

Well, it is not the same. There are only about 3 of the original group of 30 left (including me). Having said that, the three that are left have had a great time, but it is very strange not having the rest here...it always feels like we are missing someone. We always go to breakfast on Sunday morning at Slim Goodies (we do this religiously every Sunday, rain or shine). It used to work like this: whoever woke up first and had a rumbly tummy would call everyone else and set the time to all meet. This used to take a long time, so long in fact that sometimes we had to split it with another, like a phone tree. Also, so long that sometimes breakfast became lunch. Last Sunday it went something like this: I woke up to the sound of the phone ringing. It was Lea. She said, "ready for breakfast?" I said, "yes". And then we went to breakfast. It was like culture shock. I was picking up my phone and scrolling through all the names looking for someone to call.

Yesterday, another member of the extended group came back. In the next few weeks, a few more are expected back. And we are making new friends and adding to the group every day. Soon, we will be whole again. Soon, going to Slim Goodies will once again be an all day affair, if only becuase of the dozens of phone calls one has to make each Sunday morning.