It has been a long time since I’ve been to New Orleans, probably not since 1996, at least ten years before Katrina devastated the city. My memories of the Crescent City back then centered around my beloved Florida Gators playing in the Sugar Bowl, New Year’s Eve crowds of inebriated people, and the loud and smelly Bourbon Street.
I’m here to tell you that Bourbon Street is still loud and smelly. But, oh, that French Quarter is such a charming place, despite the malodorous nature of that one famous street.
And the food. Wow.
I can’t begin to describe how amazing the food was in a way that will do it justice. I’ll just say that these were some of my favorites:
- the charcuterie and the marinated Brussels sprouts from Cochon Butcher.
- blackened swordfish, melt-in-your-mouth butterfish, and sauteed sheephead from GW Fins.
- crab and corn soup from Bourbon House.
- charbroiled oysters and the refreshing Pimm’s cup from Drago’s.
- the BLT salad with fried tomatoes, the arugula and watermelon salad, the brisket, the white beans with bacon, and the shrimp and grits from Nola.
Not only is Louisiana seafood in great shape, but New Orleans chefs know what they’re doing. I was happy to be spending my money in that city, on those meals.
My only food regret? I missed out on the beignets from Cafe du Monde this trip. But that’s okay. It gives me a reason to go back.
The International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) was the reason I was in New Orleans. The conference’s weekend agenda was filled with some fantastic talks on food photography, recipe writing, sustainable eating, the ethics of food blogging, and more.
I even gave a little presentation myself, on time management. Marissa led the session with me, and she and I got along smashingly – plus, she’s cute as can be. Our lives couldn’t be more different, but our different strategies for juggling our busy schedules really work for us.
I head into each conference I attend with the goal of learning one new thing. With that as my expectation, I’m never disappointed.
I went into this conference with the same objective – to learn just one new thing.
This weekend’s conference in New Orleans exceeded my expectations by a long shot. I came out of each session with some new bit of information. What I really walked away from the conference with, though, was an immense love for this community of food bloggers – and food writers, and food photographers, and food people, in general. I met some wonderful men and women this weekend, and I shared meals or conversations or hugs – or all three – with many of them.
I find myself astounded by watching – and being a part of – the relationships that once only existed online, often first through Twitter, transform into beautiful and very real connections. When food bloggers get together, we don’t just sit around and photograph our meals and talk about the latest model of Vitamix or whether tomatoes belong in gumbo or not.
Okay, well, there’s some of that.
Mostly we get together and enjoy each other’s company. We eat and drink together. We learn from one another and we share our personal stories. We cheer each other’s successes and empathize with each other’s struggles and challenges. We lift each other up. We hug and we laugh together. Sometimes we cry together. We take care of each other. And though we miss our families back home, we hate to say goodbye when the time comes.
This food blogging community is pretty damn great. It’s an honor and a blessing to be part of it.