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Three Perfect Days: New Orleans

Four years after the storm that left it reeling, New Orleans is finally recovering its stride. And then some...

Author Ethan Brown

The renowned beignet from Café Du Monde

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Four years after the storm that left it reeling, New Orleans is finally recovering its stride. And then some…

EVER SINCE THIS STEAMY DELTA CITY ON THE GULF OF MEXICO WAS FOUNDED IN 1718, New Orleans has been home to swells, vagabonds, riverboat captains, spice merchants and Emeril Lagasse. The residents are famously easygoing (hence, the Big Easy), the pace slow enough to soothe those seeking refuge from “the real world.” As a figure in literature, New Orleans is as fertile as Paris (Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler honeymooned here; A Confederacy of Dunces hot dog lover Ignatius J. Reilly prowled the French Quarter). Every year, the parades on Fat Tuesday induce near-riots of libidinous bead-tossing along Bourbon Street. Few who enter New Orleans leave the same. It has, as the song goes, “been the ruin of many a poor boy.”

Since the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it’s taken some time for Nola to get back on its feet. Now, the rebirth is in full swing. The city is the fastest-growing in the United States, with a staggering level of inventiveness and creative hubbub. Nevermind Emeril; young chefs are injecting new life into a culinary scene that had become overly reliant on French staples and Cajun clichés, and armies of musicians in straw fedoras have reignited the nightclub scene. Newcomers are flocking here (including The Wire creator David Simon, whose forthcoming HBO series, Treme, is set in the city), and thousands who fled in the storm’s aftermath are returning, proving their undying love for this singular metropolis. To be sure, some parts of town are inhospitable to visitors, but for the most part, Nola has its groove back. In fact, in some ways the new New Orleans might just be even better than the old one.

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