Thursday, December 16, 2010

At 40, you eat Tombstone cake

So I've finally made it to 40.  That seems like such an impossible age to be when I can recall taking the Peter Pan oath in 6th grade.  Time keeps slipping away.  So yesterday was spent in the French Quarter in New Orleans, one of my favorite places to be.  I got some of my books into another book store, but the main purpose of the visit was for fun, relaxing and reflecting.  We walked around down Frenchmen and then Decatur Street, past Jackson Square and the coach drivers.  Finally it was time for a beer.  You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find a Newcastle and a Guinness.  I was terribly disappointed that Laffite's Blacksmith Shop didn't have these brews, so we steered a course for Decatur again and found Pravda.  Now I first discovered Pravda the year we marched with the Krewe Of Pirates during Mardi Gras.  The inside of the bar is quaint and dim, towards the back of the bar is a fabulous courtyard with a view of the distant rooftops.  This means little to Pirates on Mardi Gras day, but yesterday was already a slow day for the Quarter, so the Pravda courtyard was candlelit and deserted so I thoroughly enjoyed my Guinness while Clarice enjoyed her Newcastle.  Pravda is also the only bar I know of that has an actual working Absinthe drip fountain.  This is classic and though I didn't get one yesterday, I plan to get one on Mardi Gras.  I have always wanted to have an Absinthe made the old fashioned way, a shot of Absinthe over a sugar cube suspended over the glass with a traditional Absinthe spoon.  Then the spigot is turned ever so slightly on the Absinthe drip fountain to send small drops of ice cold water over the sugar cube, dissolving it into the glass below.  This was first done at The Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street sometime in the late 1700's.  Absinthe was outlawed even before probibition hit in the 20's because of the Wormwood.  The neat thing about the Absinthe is that it isn't just the alcohol that is getting you drunk.  It is infused with many different types of herbs, each with their own specific properties.  Wormwood was known to cause hallucinations and disorientation.  Poe was a fan of Absinthe as well as Van Gogh, in fact, Van Gogh cut off his ear while under the influence of Absinthe.  In the last year, Wormwood was again added back into the brand 'Absente,' though I assume that it is either a distilled version of the wormwood or there is far less of it added to the bottle by volume.

Ah Mardi Gras, I shall have a drink from the Absinthe fountain for the first time.  I have a bottle and a half here at the house.  My method is to pour the shot over the sugar cube, cut the lights and set it on fire before dousing it with the ice water.  Moulin Rouge style.  Some disagree with this  method saying that it burns off some of the alcohol, which seems to make logical sense.  It still looks really cool when you do it, especially if the fire only burns the cube and does not drop into the glass.    So... back to the Guinness.
We left Pravda and had Beignets and Coffee at Cafe Du Monde as we always do then headed over to the home of two new friends that we met at the New Orleans Book Fair.  JT Blatty is a writer, photographer and artist.  She was one of the volunteers who helped clean up the oil soaked Pelicans that fell victim to BP's careless oil gusher.  She documented the process of the recovery with her photographs and focused  mainly on the release of the birds back into the wild.  It is truly beautiful work.  She also published a book called 'The Who Dat Nation' that documents the players and the fans through unique, storytelling photographs.  After spending many hours talking and sharing stories much farther into the night than we realized, we made our way back across the lake.

40 really isn't the end of the world.  It just means eating tombstone cake, black candles and jokes about canes and wheelchairs.  Maybe when I'm 80, for now, I'm content to remain in my Peter Panish fantasy, growing up only as much as I need to and remembering that youth is all a state of mind.

One of the best birthday presents I received was an amazing review of my book at the LL Book Review, you can read it here!  Shannon did a great job and I couldn't be more pleased with his perspective on the book.  I also added a page of links to my website so that New Orleans area locals can buy the book around town at local book stores and shops.  I also added a page with links to showcase some of my artistic friends and their amazing websites.  As always, you can find my book at http://www.tracyconway.com/ and also delve into some background information on the book with additional photos that did not appear inside.    Thanks for coming along!  See you next time.

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