190619 Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

8 Jul

On 19 June 2019, I had a full day to wander around the French Quarter in New Orleans.

I spent some time admiring the statue of General Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square or Plaza d’Armas as it was known during the Spanish Imperial days.

This bronze statue, sculpted by Clark Mills is claimed to be first bronze statue cast in the United States and the first equestrian statue to be balanced on the horse’s hind legs.

This statue violates the tradition that an equestrian statue on the horse’s hind legs indicates that the rider died in battle. Andrew Jackson went on to become the seventh President of the United States 1829 – 1837.

There are conventions in the US and the UK for “Hoof-position symbolism” in equestrian statues. If the horse is rearing (both front legs in the air), the rider died from battle; one front leg up means the rider was wounded in battle; and if all four hooves are on the ground, the rider died outside battle.

I remembered the film THE BUCCANEER which I saw at THE ASSEMBLY ROOMS, Ooty, circa 1961, on an “Ooty Saturday” (all of 58 years ago???). The film had a fictionalised romantic story based on the War of 1812 ending in the Battle of New Orleans (1814). Charlton Heston acted as General Andrew Jackson while Yul Brynner acted as the French Pirate (Buccaneer) Jean Lafitte. The beautiful Claire Bloom acted as Bonny Brown.

By the time the film came to India, Johnny Horton’s “Battle of New Orleans” had been a number one hit song on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 (1959), and fortified my memory of the film. Since this song has a ‘march beat’ I remember we used to sing it in school while coming down to our Cottages after prep at night.

Jean Lafitte’s name lives on in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Louisiana with its bayous and waterways. Lafitte sided with General Andrew Jackson in return for a pardon for him and his fellow pirates. One of Lafitte’s headquarters was Barataria, which is almost at the mouth of the Mississippi as it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. There are hotels and B&B facilities here.

If you are in New Orleans French Quarter (also known as the Vieux Carré or “Old Square”) and want a place to sit and dream, the Cafe du Monde, on Decatur Street is probably the best place.

Coffee was introduced to Louisiana by the French settlers in the early decades of the 18th century. During a period of coffee shortage during the American Civil War, a Creole innovation was to blend coffee with chicory and this trend has persisted to this day.

An 18th century Arcadian innovation by Settlers from Nova Scotia is the Beignet (pronounced ‘Bayney’). These square ‘doughnuts’ without a hole are covered in powdered sugar. They are served with fruit, jam or maple syrup.

To have the perfect atmosphere, make sure you are listening to Johnny Horton’s THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS on your smart phone. The song is available for download on YouTube. Also make sure you have your earphones so you don’t intrude on anyone’s enjoyment of the atmosphere.

In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in a town in New Orleans

I have included a short video clip to give an all too brief glimpse of the energy of Decatur Street. (Sorry WORDPRESS refused to upload this clip.)

St

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