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By Shereen Travels Cheap
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Exploring New Orleans at Home

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When I posted my Mardi Gras staycation, I promised you a second stand-alone New Orleans post, since I waited forever on my original backdrops. I also wanted to touch on some non-celebratory things in The Big Easy, because it’s a fantastic vacation destination, especially outside of summer where it’s crazy hot and muggy. 

When I posted my Mardi Gras staycation, I promised you a second stand-alone New Orleans post, because it's a fantastic vacation destination.

I’ve been to New Orleans a few times, including March of last year right before the pandemic hit. Somehow, that seems like 4 years ago, and I’m looking to return at some point for more culture, food, and exploring.

When Eric and I visited, we had a great time taking walking tours and eating outside. This is the photo that I felt really encased our trip and I wanted to bring that feeling home and recreate it the best I could. While I couldn’t find gator bites, I was able to find the vibe and food that really relived the flavor of our trip.

We spent a lot of time walking and seeing Jackson Square, so I had one of our photos turned into a backdrop. Shockingly, these don’t seem to exist in a decent size otherwise. It’s basically the heart of New Orleans for me. People gather there and go shopping, and try foods and meet up with friends. There are street vendors, book shops, performers, and a lot of palm and tarot readers, which I was super into and next time I go I will definitely get one or both of those done.

The balconies are gorgous. Many of them are decked in plants, flowers, streamers, bunting and even not during Mardi Gras season, they often have decorations still up. I liked this one, because it’s not too much ,but still fun. With that, I added things to my table: The street lamp that mimics the gas lanterns, the vintage signs, and some masquerade masks (which were also late, and we didn’t end up getting to wear them for our Mardi Gras celebration). 

I topped our table with a beige tablecloth, a runner in Mardi Gras colors, and some plates that I found for on sale for Easter, that we’ll continue to use for many other things. I already had these goldenrod napkins, which give a nice pop to most tables. Eric went up to our local food cart pod and picked up food at the Creole food truck. On special were hushpuppies and cornbread bites. Two things I don’t ever say no to.

He also picked up jambalaya, with boudin sausage, chicken and shrimp. I really liked this, and it was better than other times I’ve had it elsewhere. 

Our second dish was gumbo. I always think it looks amazing, and I get the appeal. Unfortunately, for me, I feel like the spices taste like dirt, so it’s not my favorite at all. I mixed it with the jambalaya to tone down the flavors a bit. If you’re a fan of creole food, then you’d be thrilled by this dish. It was very much the same as gumbo I had in New Orleans, with good depth of flavor and variety of ingredients. 

We talked about our trip to New Orleans while we ate, then we watched a Second Line street parade and took a tour of the Garden District. Even though we stayed in the Garden District, and walked around quite a bit, there’s only so much information you can take in at one time. 

Food truck bread pudding
New Orleans bread pudding

We ended our meal with a Creole bread pudding that was almost as good as one I had on my last visit. The thing that really makes it is the sauce. It seeps into the whole thing and makes it really flavorful and moist.  While this is missing that  extra moistness, it held its own pretty well and I was impressed.

Food trucks are a great place to pick up a feast for something like this, because you can get multiple dishes for the same price of one or two as at a regular restaurant. They generally have a handful of very good items, because they aren’t wasting time making a whole menu of dishes. 

There are a lot of things on their menu that I’d like to try now, including the Hopping John bowl that comes and goes as a special (the salad version is a regular item). We try to find dishes that we don’t usually eat, or haven’t just had, so we get a better feeling like we’re actually traveling. 

Having a New Orleans destination date is easy to pull together, whether you want to make it into a whole day or just have an evening of Zydeco music and good food. Here’s some things you can do to create this at home:
  • A good backdrop or two
  • A riverboat sign
  • Mardi Gras masks
  • Colorful table runner
    • Or napkins
    • Tabletop street lamp
    • Good creole or zydeco music and/or YouTube list. Here are some I like:
    • Chicory coffee
    • Beignet mix
    • Creole cookbook
    • Learn some Haitian Creole words and phrases
    • I hope you are able to keep yourselves busy and occupied while we’re still waiting to travel again. I know that these destination dates have really made not traveling more bearable and fun. I look forward to each one like I’m actually going somewhere. Follow my IG for more pics of my staycation dates. 
      Have you been doing any staycations at home over the last year?

      Want to read more tips for traveling worldwide on a budget? Check out my blog at Shereen Travels Cheap or find me on Facebook or Twitter. You’ll also find product and website suggestions, packing tips, current deals and a whole lot more to help you travel better for less!


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