New Orleans

Cajun Like it Oughta Be

It seems that wherever I go, Cajun is in. Most yuppie-esque restaurants now serve some dish that's "blackened" and the least bit spicy and call it Cajun, and there's even a new restaurant in the Square specializing in Cajun food.

That may be adequate for Boston's yuppies. But if y'all pride yourselves on being daring and, adventurous, then discover what Cajun really is. Go to its source--the bayous of Louisiana.

Louisiana is truly a country to itself with a unique culture. Aside from the Cajun food, which is top-notch in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and in many of the small towns en route between the two, Louisiana offers an eclectic mixture of French and Spanish culture, a view of the Old South, and temperatures in the 70s in February.

If that's not enough to entice y'all away from the cold and snow of Cambridge, maybe this is: The drinking age is 18. Yes, that's right, 18. In the good ole tradition of states' rights, Louisiana has kept the age at which one can consume alcoholic beverages a good young 18. But that age is about to rise, so hurry down.

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is March 3 this year, so mark your calendars. New Orleans, the ultimate party town, starts celebrating about two weeks early. The exclusive balls have long been out, but it's not too late to join in the drinking and gallivanting that goes on every night in the French Quarter.


On the actual day of Mardi Gras, many people turn out in costumes--some expensive and ornate, others hardly there. There's even a transvestite beauty contest on the street in the Quarter. The crowds in the Quarter have been known to get a little out of hand, and amateurs (especially Yankees) have to be careful not to get swept up in the masses swarming through the streets.

Now or Later

But if that thesis or bio lab stops you from flying down South for Mardi Gras, don't despair. There's plenty to do over Spring Break. The temperature will be in the 70s or 80s, and the azaleas will be in their most exquisite phases of pink, red and white brilliance. And, yes, the drinking age will still be 18.

In New Orleans, hit the bars on Bourbon St. (don't miss Pat O'Brien's famous Hurricane) at night, and during the day stroll the Mississippi River Walk, enjoy the street artists and performers, and sample Cafe du Monde's beignets, a type of fried donut. Also, be sure to stop at the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the Quarter one evening. The music is some of the best anywhere, and the $1 admission fee can't be beat.

Party Animals

In Baton Rouge, visit the capital built by Huey Long and take a walk through the campus of LSU (see for yourself what a certified party school looks like).

St. Francisville, about an hour's drive from Baton Rouge, contains several beautifully-restored antebellum plantation homes. The most elegant is Rosedown, which features gardens modeled after Versailles. The tour-guides in the house are charming ladies who cultivate the hospitality that is the South.

So whether y'all make it down to the bayous for Mardi Gras or wait until Spring Break, y'all are guaranteed a taste of the Old South and a shot or two of the New.

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