I wanted to give something back to the city that has given me so much throughout the years. I may not have been born in New Orleans but I was raised there since the age of eight years old. During my time spent in that authentic spirited town, I developed many lifelong friendships that I will cherish… always.
New Orleans has given me a real sense of camaraderie; I watched our Saints go from the Saints to the Aint's and back to the Saints again. Our team spirit has been admired by many over the years because our loyalty never teetered or wavered. I will always be a WHO DAT fan.
It was in the BIG EASY where I developed such a refined pallet for fine Creole cuisine. Growing up, having gumbo or jambalaya for dinner was normal. But since moving away from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit 9 years ago, my culture-shocked pallet has not been the same. I often have severe cravings for foods that I can no longer easily access.
I attribute my exquisite taste in music to my hometown as well. While my favorite genres are R&B/soul/pop…I’m grateful to have been exposed to other types of music, allowing me to expand my horizons. We are considered to be the birthplace of Dixieland jazz. Other only unique to New Orleans music styles are Gypsy jazz, Brass Band, Ragtime, Zydeco, Cajun and Bounce music.
New Orleans is also responsible for such a lively urban folk culture that is embedded in the very core of who I am. On many occasions I took advantage of Creole Neighborhood restaurants, the French Quarter bar scene which never closes and permits you to walk down the street with your openly contained beverage, the brass band parades in central-city neighborhoods often referred to as a second-line parade, the Jazz & Heritage Fest, Mardi Gras, French Quarter Fest, Essence Fest and so much more.
New Orleans is the reason I am the Southern Belle I am today, spreading that good ole southern hospitality everywhere I go. That special city will always have a place in my heart.
People don’t realize that moving from New Orleans is a very big deal. Most of us need to join a support group after leaving for any extended period of time. For me, leaving New Orleans felt like a really bad break-up; like I had lost my best friend. There were so many things I missed and wished I could have back in my life but my biggest challenge was trying to survive in a world without all of the comforts from home.
New Orleans has certainly taken a lot of hits throughout the years but despite the emotional roller coaster we’ve endured, it will ALWAYS feel like home to me.