Travel the World While Staying in New Orleans
June 8, 2018
Learn about the many different cultures that are so integral to this city
Summer is a time of travel and adventure. Not all of us have the luxury of visiting whatever country we want whenever we want. No need to worry though, because New Orleans is so rich with culture that you can experience many countries’ traditions without even leaving the city! In this Lagniappe post, I’ll explore how New Orleans has put its own spin on many cultures from countries around the world and what makes this city so internatioNOLA.
So this one is pretty obvious. A major attraction in New Orleans is the French Quarter, which is the oldest section of the city and was founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville in 1718. We have Mardi Gras, translated to “Fat Tuesday,” which is celebrated with carnivals around France, as well as New Orleans. But France has had a huge influence on New Orleans, such as through the creation of French immersion schools for children in the area, numerous French restaurants all around the city, and the celebration of Bastille Day every July 14.
In the early 1700s, many Germans made their way to New Orleans to what is now known as the German Coast to develop farmlands for Scottish speculator John Law. Though the two World Wars resulted in laws suppressing the German language and culture, bits and pieces survived. The accordion would not be common in Cajun music if it wasn’t for German immigrants. The famous downtown hotel The Roosevelt was originally known as the Grunewald Hotel. Additionally, many German bakeries in New Orleans have grown very popular. Be sure to go to Haydel’s Bakery if you’re looking for some delicious sweets!
Spain made a lasting impact on the city during the period of Spanish rule of New Orleans (1763-1803). The classic French Quarter architecture, which is marked by ironwork and colorful buildings, is actually Spanish. Similarly, though many of the streets in the area have French names, if you look carefully, you may notice plaques labeling the streets with their old Spanish names. Looking for a fun summer festival? Check out The Running of the Bulls, which takes a spin on the Spanish tradition and uses roller derby skaters instead of bulls.
After the Vietnam War, many Vietnamese came to the US in order to avoid the incoming Communist regime. An impressive number came all the way to Louisiana, and today, New Orleans has the largest Vietnamese community in the state. Tet Fest is a large celebration in the city each year for the Vietnamese New Year. There are also many Vietnamese restaurants in New Orleans, where you can get pho, vermicelli bowls, spring rolls and more. Some of my favorites are Mint and Ba Chi!
Irish settlers came to New Orleans in the late 1700s. They felt at home in the predominately-Catholic city, but their need to have an English (rather than French) mass resulted in the founding of the St. Patrick’s Church in 1833. The Irish are also responsible for influencing the New Orleans accent, which you may have noticed is far from the typical southern accent. Though the St. Patrick’s Day festivities in the city may not be as grandiose as those for Mardi Gras, it’s still a great time to stop by one of the many Irish pubs in the city and attend the parade in the Irish Channel. This parade’s throws include everything from beads to cabbages to Moon Pies!
Next time you’re exploring the city, be sure to pay attention to all this and more, and you might just feel like you’re traveling the globe!
Robin Boch is an intern at Bond Moroch.