Leave it to New Orleans, Louisiana to figure out how to party during a pandemic. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival draws upwards of 475,000 music lovers to the city the each year from the last weekend in April through the first weekend in May for seven days of music, art and food. The festival, which draws obsessed fans from all corners of the globe, took place every year for 50 years. Until 2020, which would have been its 51st.
“Have a rice day” is the greeting you'll get in Crowley, Louisiana. Rice has reigned in this self-proclaimed “rice capital” of the Cajun prairie since the late 1800s. Crowley's rice history goes back to the completion of the railroad, which led to the sale of abundant prairie land rich for growing the crop. Several advances in equipment, technology and plant varieties all led to the grain prospering in this region of Southwest Louisiana. Rice fields still dot the landscape today.
It took about 24 hours. By that time, I was hopelessly, helplessly in love. Luckily my husband felt the same way. We swooned at every sultry bite of andouille sausage in our freshly prepared jambalaya. “I could eat this every week,” I said. He nodded in agreement, mouth too full to speak. My love affair with New Orleans, Louisiana, was not unexpected. The cuisine has been my undisputed favorite for decades. You’d think with such high expectations, New Orleans would disappoint, but instead, the grand dame of a city surpassed them all.