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.
This week was the first anniversary of the official declaration that the coronavirus was a global pandemic. But a number of Canada Letter readers have recently emailed about a very different issue: the correct layer proportions of Nanaimo bars.
Instagram post from The Times’s Cooking account of an example of Canada’s favorite no-bake squares. “Canadians, this one’s for you,” it read.
But many Canadians were quick to point out that it had way too thick of a base layer — a mixture of butter, cocoa powder, nuts, shredded coconut, graham cracker crumbs and lots of butter. The yellow middle layer — lots more butter, more sugar, Bird’s custard powder and heavy cream — was mingy, the critics said. And instead of being as smooth as an ice rink, the melted top layer sported a ripple pattern.
told the CBC “If you’re going to do something different, you can call it a Nanaimo-esque bar, or in the style of a Nanaimo bar.”
The Instagram post linked to the account of Sara Bonisteel, an editor in Cooking, and a photo of a more generally accepted style of Nanaimo bar. (For the record: She did not make the squares of contention.)
Almost two years ago, Sara wrote a terrific article about the pride of British Columbia’s kitchens, and she also posted a recipe, a process that involved having a caterer in British Columbia ship sample bars to New York for analysis and inspection.
A Bite-Size Square of Canada’s History, Culture and Craving]
She told me that she was a bit surprised about the online heat the Instagram post generated in Canada and that she agreed with the critics.
“This particular photo brought drama but didn’t do the Nanaimo bar justice,” she said. “They’re a delicious treat. And I am glad that such a topic can be the centerpiece of such a lively debate, especially after the last few years where debate seemed to be very heavy. To be able to have a national debate about a treat, it’s kind of refreshing.”
While Sara did not create the bar of scorn, she said that its out-of-whack portions might have been a result of its coming from the edge of a pan. “When you press down that bottom layer, it does sort of pop up the sides if you’re not a Nanaimo-bar-making expert,” she said.
She too rejects the swirling pattern on the top layer of the bar shown in the post, although her experience has been that it’s tricky to get the melted chocolate to set “completely smooth, like freshly Zambonied ice.” She finds that banging the pan on a counter several times after layering the top on helps, however.
Cooking’s Instagram bar isn’t the only one to come under criticism. In 2019, Canada Post released an unusually shaped stamp featuring a Nanaimo bar with the opposite condition: Critics found its yellow middle layer way too thick.
“We understand there are some strong views on the layer proportions, but we also understand there are many views of these beloved treats across the country,” Sylvie Lapointe, a spokeswoman for Canada Post, told me. “That factored into our image decisions.”
how the city successfully shielded its Indigenous elders from the coronavirus pandemic.
Catherine Porter reports that vaccination has not loosened the restrictions that have made life severely constrained for residents of long-term care homes over the past year. “You always hear people say, ‘Oh, they lived a long life,’” the daughter of one resident told her. “Right now, they aren’t living. They are existing.”
Shawna Richer, who recently joined The Times as an editor in Sports from The Globe and Mail, wrote about Justin Bieber’s new video, a “love letter” to the Toronto Maple Leafs: “This is not the rapper Lil Wayne, who is from New Orleans but front-running for the Green Bay Packers in song. Bieber has been obsessed with the Leafs since he was a kid, with the twin-size bedsheets and wallpaper to prove it.”
Also from the Northwest Territories comes the story of how the Łutsël K’é’ Dene worked with the federal government to block diamond mining by establishing Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve, an area that still allows them to exercise their traditional hunting and fishing rights. It’s part of an article by Somini Sengupta, Catrin Einhorn and Manuela Andreoni on how Indigenous people in many countries are now leading the way on conserving nature.
Since leaving Microsoft, Nathan P. Myhrvold, the company’s former chief technology officer, has started coming to Canada to photograph snowflakes. But he’s not using the phone on his camera, Kenneth Chang found. It took Dr. Myhrvold 18 months to design and build a special snowflake camera roughly the size of a bar fridge that can make super-high-resolution images while minimizing melting. A Canadian photographer who uses a store-bought camera and photographs snowflakes on a black mitten said of Mr. Myhrvold’s system, “I think it’s a little over-engineered.”
In Opinion, Charlie Warzel writes about Aron Rosenberg, a former teacher in Montreal who went cold turkey and completely cut himself off from the internet as part of his research for an education Ph.D. at McGill University.
Five former elite swimmers have accused Canada Artistic Swimming of failing to provide a safe environment and of neglecting abusive behavior by coaches. Their allegations of being bullied, harassed and psychologically abused are being made by other athletes in the sport around the world, Jeré Longman and Gillian R. Brassil found.
A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.
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