Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Voodoo Crypts, Muffuletta & Prosecco

As sad as it was, we saw our Aussie travel mates, Merlot Boy and Margarita, jump in a cab to catch their flight back to NYC. There's little chance that our day to follow would be nearly as eventful as days spent with them - but we likely wouldn't have to drink as much.

One of the activities on our "must do list" was to take a tour of one of the New Orleans cemeteries. St. Louis #1, the Roman Catholic cemetery just outside of the French Quarter, was where our tour took us.

The tour actually started in the Quarter and we were given some interesting history of the city as we made our way up to the cemetery. However, before entering the cemetery, we stopped for a brief visit to one of the Catholic churches, the Chapel of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, where we were regaled with a great little story about the legend of St. Expedite. Many stories revolve on the appearance of this "controversial" saint in New Orleans and how he arrived without any clear identification of who he actually was. The fact that the word "expédit" was apparently written on the outside of the box was good enough at the time and that's who he's been from that point on.

Despite having a rather sketchy standing with the Vatican, St. Expedite remains popular in New Orleans - particularly among computer geeks and those looking for speedy results. He is also understood, at times, to play a role in voodoo rites.

Many a cemetery has a famous crypt or two and I think it's fair to say that the uncontested star of St. Louis #1 is renowned Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. Evidence of believers still asking her for assistance abounds. I also found it interesting to see tokens - like pawns and bishops and dice - from petitioners being left at the crypts of a former chess champion and a noted playboy famous for introducing the game of craps to New Orleans.

Almost all of the tombs are built above ground and are designed to house many generations by way of multiple, sequential interments. After a body has been buried, the vault can be re-opened after a year and a day, with the decomposed remains being pushed to the back or moved to a lower level where they would mix with their ancestors and family members. In earlier years, there was ofter much demand for ongoing use of the crypt as folks didn't live as long and an epidemic could easily play havoc with family health.

Being at the oldest remaining cemetery in New Orleans, Boo was in his element - although the variety, size and grandeur of the tombs here doesn't really compare to that of the Recoleta Cemetery we visited last year in Buenos Aires. Then again, Recoleta didn't have stories of voodoo priestesses, rogue film antics or vampires.

All in all, a very interesting tour. An opportunity to meet with a practicing voodoo priestess was also presented to us; however, we were partially warned that the priestess could be rather long-winded and pedantic. So, Boo and I opted to continue back to the French Quarter and grab a picnic lunch.

Boo's must-visit cemetery was followed by my "can't miss" visit to the Central Grocery to wait in the lunch line for a famous muffuletta sandwich - Italian bread stuffed with salami, ham and provolone that is finished off with a chopped olive, anchovy and garlic salad. With that and a bottle of wine in tow, Jackson Square, with the St. Louis Cathedral behind us, was a perfect lunch spot - particularly when a brass jazz band started playing away in the neighbouring plaza. The funny part of our choice of location was that our bench was immediately in front of a statue of Bacchus. How appropriate for another bottle to be added to The List.

985. N.V. Adami Garbèl Prosecco Brut (Prosecco DOC Treviso - Italy)

Given the heat of the day and our desire for something cool, I thought a Prosecco would be an easy drinking fit for our Italian sandwich. The number of Prosecco's available in the Vancouver market back home is forever expanding; however, I haven't seen Adami on any of our shelves yet. I see that the winery is a well-established producer in northern Italy and is three generations old in its making of Prosecco.

I was little surprised at the tartness of the wine. Despite being a Brut, I thought, being a Prosecco, it might have a little more residual sugar and a more active mousse (i.e. bubbles). Not making these comments as a bad thing. The taste profile was just a tad unexpected and we had no complaints as we finished off our lunch with a jazz concert playing away.

This is what vacations are meant to be like.

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