How to Pretend You’re in New Orleans Tonight

While your travel plans may be on hold, you can pretend you’re somewhere new for the night. Around the World at Home invites you to channel the spirit of a new place each week with recommendations on how to explore the culture, all from the comfort of your home.

Over the course of the decade since I first visited, I have often imagined myself at home in New Orleans. I think of the syncopated shuffle of a snare drum, the simple pleasure of an afternoon walk with a to-go beer in hand and the candy-colored shotgun houses that sink into the ground at odd angles. And so it wasn’t a huge surprise when, at the beginning of 2021, I found myself packing up my life and moving to the Crescent City for a few months. Why not be somewhere I love at this difficult time, I thought? Why not live in my daydreams for a little while?

New Orleans is above all else resilient. Mardi Gras parades were canceled this year, though it didn’t stop New Orleanians from finding ways to celebrate (nothing ever will). In recent months, brass bands have taken to street corners in front of masked, socially distant spectators instead of packed night clubs. Strangers still chat you up about the Saints from their front porches. My visions of this city may still be filtered through the fuzzy lens of a visitor, but I know I’ll be pretending I’m still there long after I’m gone. Here are a few ways you can, too.

bounce, popularized by superstars like Big Freedia, the call-and-response songs of Mardi Gras Indians, and so much more. For an overview of the sounds of this loud, percussive city there is no better place to start than the wonderfully eclectic WWOZ, a community-supported radio station that has been on the air since 1980. Luckily, you can listen to it from anywhere online. It’s only a matter of time before you start getting to know the various D.J.s and tuning in for your favorites.

a show on WWOZ for more than 25 years, told me. “New Orleans is the reason for it all.” Soul Sister was one of a handful of local experts I consulted in putting together a playlist that will send you straight to New Orleans. Among her recommendations are a bounce classic by DJ Jubilee and the music of Rebirth Brass Band, which brings her back to afternoons spent celebrating on the street: “It reminds me of the energy and freedom of being at the second line parades on Sundays, dancing through all the neighborhoods nonstop for three or four hours,” she said.

Professor Longhair, for example, starts it off — recommended by Keith Spera who writes about music for the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate. By the end of the playlist, you will undoubtedly agree with Mr. Spera’s assessment of New Orleans music: “There is no singular style of ‘New Orleans music’ — is it jazz? Rhythm & blues? Funk? Bounce? — but you know it when you hear it.”

Dooky Chase Cookbook, the collected recipes of Leah Chase, who died in 2019, of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, an institution that has hosted civil rights leaders, presidents and countless regulars at its location in Treme, the neighborhood where jazz was born. Next, tap into the Cajun influence on the city with “Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou,” by Melissa M. Martin who oversees a restaurant of the same name in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans. Ms. Martin recommends making her grandmother’s oyster soup. “I can picture her stirring a pot on Bayou Petit Caillou and seasoning a broth with salty Louisiana oysters, Creole tomatoes and salted pork,” Ms. Martin said. “The marriage of three ingredients transports me to the tiny fishing village I call home, where salt was and still is always in the air.”

Anthony Bourdain for encouraging her to keep it secret). But she has shared versions of her recipe, so you can try your hand at it at home. “That will get you pretty close to the real thing,” she said with a wink I could almost hear over the phone.

Free Tours by Foot, which has transferred their expertise to YouTube. You can now stroll the grandiose Garden District, pull away the sensationalism around New Orleans’ Voodoo traditions and take a deep dive into jazz history in Treme. “New Orleans is full of painful history, and it’s also known as one of the most fun cities in the world,” Andrew Farrier, one of the tour guides, said. “I think it’s useful for all of us to know how those two things can live so close to each other.”

New Orleans’ drinking scene extends far beyond the vortex of debauchery that is Bourbon Street. There are the classic New Orleans inventions, of course, like the Sazerac, but for something a little different, turn to one of the city’s most revered mixologists. Chris Hannah, of Jewel of the South, invented the Bywater as a New Orleanian spin on the Brooklyn. “Among the ingredient substitutions I swapped rum for rye as a cheeky nod to our age-old saying, ‘New Orleans is the northernmost tip of the Caribbean’,” Mr. Hannah said.

your quarantine pod and a “set-up” and you might just get close. What is a set-up, you ask? It’s a staple dive bar order that will get you a half-pint of your liquor of choice, a mixer and a stack of plastic cups. It’s also an often-overlooked part of New Orleans drinking culture, according to Deniseea Taylor, a cocktail enthusiast who goes by the Cocktail Goddess. “When you find a bar with a set-up, you are truly in Nola,” Ms. Taylor said. “First time I experienced a set-up, it was paired with a $5 fish plate, a match made in heaven.”

“The Yellow House,” a memoir by Sarah M. Broom, which the Times book critic Dwight Garner called “forceful, rolling and many-chambered.” Going further back in time, try “Coming Through Slaughter,” a fictionalized rendition of the life of jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden by Michael Ondaatje.

If you are in the mood for a documentary, Clint Bowie, artistic director of the New Orleans Film Festival, recommends Lily Keber’s “Buckjumping,” which spotlights the city’s dancers. For something fictional, Mr. Bowie points to “Eve’s Bayou” directed by Kasi Lemmons. It’s hard to forget New Orleans is a city built on a swamp when you feel the crushing humidity or lose your footing on ruptured streets, and this movie will take you farther into that ethereal environment. “Set in the Louisiana bayou country in the ’60s, we could think of no better film to spark Southern Gothic daydreams about a visit to the Spanish moss-draped Louisiana swamps,” Mr. Bowie said.

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Testing, One, Two. Fans Flock to an Experimental Indoor Rock Concert.

“If I had not been vaccinated already, I really would have thought twice about coming here,” said Cristina Delgado, a doctor. But Ana, her sister, who was also vaccinated because she works in health care, felt differently. “I was going to come whatever, because I want to save culture and return us to normal life,” she said.

Inés Villasuso, a 24-year old nurse, also said that “it would have been better to get everybody tested again later, to have scientific evidence that can really convince the authorities that such a big event can be held safely.” But she and her twin sister, Eva, agreed that the concert outstripped their expectations. “It felt like living a total dream,” Eva said.

In an interview before the concert, Julián Saldarriaga, a member of Love of Lesbian, said that the band’s decision to perform had received very broad support, but also generated “some criticism, from people who have called us irresponsible or who say that we only care about money.” But for his band, he said, “we really saw this as an opportunity to take part in the recovery of culture.”

Rather than featuring a supporting act, the concert was preceded by a series of videos about Covid-19, shown on the big stage screen and interspersed with hits from the distant past — like “Come Together” and “Here Comes the Sun,” by The Beatles — whose themes warmed up the crowd.

To comply with the safety protocols, on Saturday, concertgoers visited one of three smaller Barcelona music venues to get a rapid antigen test for Covid-19. The cost was included in the €23 ticket price.

Christiana Guldager, a photographer, said that she cried before her test at the Razzmatazz nightclub. “I’ve been dancing so often in that place that it made me feel very emotional to find it instead converted into a mini-hospital,” she said.

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Beer Here, Bouquets Next Door: How a Bar Defied the Pandemic

Ms. Easterbrook, the Hatch’s manager, had been planning to open a sister bar called Good for Nothing, but she quickly ditched the plan when the pandemic arrived. Then, in a late-night conversation while waiting for takeout orders at the Hatch, Ms. Easterbrook, a trained florist, and Mr. Kachingwe came up with the idea for Pothead. To them, the concept made sense: There was still demand for flowers and plants, the Hatch’s new outdoor space could attract customers, and they could use the bar’s liquor license to sell wine.

Ms. Easterbrook said the first weeks had been a success, though Mr. Kachingwe still had plenty to learn. “In the beginning he asked me things like, ‘Should I get more sand for the flowers?’” she said.

Mr. Kachingwe teamed up with the Hatch’s cook, Leonardo Garcia, to make and bottle sauces, including Hatch Fire Ketchup and Hatch Fuego. And he worked with Giacchino Breen, a 23-year-old bartender, on bottling cocktails under a new brand, Wolfmoon. As part of Mr. Kachingwe’s effort to empower his employees, Mr. Garcia and Mr. Breen have stakes in the sales.

Now, after a year in which he worried the Hatch would never fully open again, Mr. Kachingwe said his biggest anxiety was welcoming customers back inside. He is trying to figure out how to make the sound system cover both the indoor and outdoor spaces and whether to have indoor customers order food at the outdoor window. Until they receive a vaccine, some on the staff are also uncomfortable with customers returning inside the compact bar.

In fact, Mr. Kachingwe said, he prefers the new Hatch to what it was before the pandemic. With the outdoor seating, “it’s more lively,” he said. “I don’t see things going back to the way they were.”

Kirla Oyola-Seal contributed reporting.

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February 2021 Jobs Report: U.S. Economy Added 379,000 Jobs

She mentioned her frustration to someone she met at work. “He called his friend, who called his stepdaughter, who called her boyfriend, who called his son, who works for the unemployment office,” she said, and he was finally able to clear up the mistake.

Ultimately, Ms. Pontia hopes to get her old position back. But “to get a job even close to what I was able to have before seems absolutely impossible until things are safer,” she said.

Fifteen hundred miles to the southwest, in San Antonio, Jordan Alaniz was hired as a bartender at a French restaurant and bar on Feb. 20. Ms. Alaniz, a 28-year-old mother of two infants, received her first Covid-19 vaccine this week. But even with the shot, she is worried about working at a bar in a state without a mask mandate after Gov. Greg Abbott rolled back the requirement.

“I’m definitely nervous about it,” said Ms. Alaniz, who previously worked at a different restaurant. “The last time they lifted our mask mandate, we actually had a Covid outbreak at the place I was working because they weren’t requiring masks there. That kind of traumatized me, and that’s why I was so adamant about getting the vaccine.”

Still, Ms. Alaniz feels lucky to have a job. She appreciates that her new workplace takes virus protocols seriously, requiring staff to wear gloves and clean the establishment regularly. The restaurant will continue to ask customers to wear masks, despite the governor’s lifting of restrictions.

The varying attitudes about risk of infection underscore why the shape of the post-pandemic economy remains uncertain even as more and more of the population is vaccinated.

Will people rush back out to restaurants, theaters, sports events and shopping malls or shift their behavior? Will workplaces crank back up to full capacity or shift to more remote work? Will business travel and conferences return to previous levels?

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