Future Reflections Winter/Spring 1991

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NEW ORLEANS CONVENTION: WHERE TO START

by Jerry Whittle

From the Editor: In the last issue of Future Reflections we announced the upcoming We Are Changing What It Means To Be Blind National Workshop/Seminar for Parents and Educators of Blind Children. That seminar (which is FREE-no registration or other fees required for attendance) will be held on Sunday, June 30, 1991, in New Orleans and is only one part of the many, many activities of the National Federation of the Blind National Convention which runs from June 30 through July 7. (If you missed that announcement and want information about the parents seminar and the convention, write to: Barbara Cheadle, 1991 Parents Seminar, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland, 21230; or call (301) 659-9314.)

For those planning to come to the seminar and the convention, and for those still thinking about it, here is an article (reprinted from the Braille Monitor) about the many wonderful sights and experiences awaiting you in the city of New Orleans. This year's National Federation of the Blind convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana, poses a pleasant problem. Because of the rich heritage and historic significance of this bustling port city, there are so many varied and exciting activities that it will be impossible to find the time to do everything that is available.

The names and locations of the myriad restaurants, bars, and clubs reveal the Spanish, French, African, Indian, and Irish influences upon this unique American city. Brennan's on Royal is famous for its sumptuous brunches and haute cuisine, including Eggs Benedict and Bananas Foster. Try Mr. B's crayfish fettucini with a delicious sauce. For that special lunch, try Commander's Palace in uptown New Orleans on Washington. If it is jazz that tickles your fancy, the Pete Fountain Club at 2 Poydras Place on the third floor of the Hilton is a popular haunt. Snug Harbor on Frenchmen's Street offers a wonderful singer; Tipitina's on Napoleon, Club My-Oh-My on Chartres, The Ol' Toones Saloon, Papa Joe's, Ryan's Irish Pub, and The Famous Door-all on Bourbon-are just a few of the clubs featuring jazz and potables. Incidentally, while in New Orleans, almost everyone ventures into the world famous Pat O'Brien's on St. Peter's for a hurricane. While in your favorite pub, you might want to try a Ramos gin fizz, which consists of egg white, orange flower water, and gin. Another popular drink is cafe brulot, which consists of hot coffee, spices, orange peel, and liqueurs blended in a chafing dish, ignited, and served in a special cup.

If you want to learn how to prepare some of the wonderful dishes that have made New Orleans famous the world over for fine food, perhaps you would like to take a class in creole cooking taught by a professional chef. The demonstration includes sampling, in addition to lunch and transportation. Creole cooking has four main ethnic influences. It blends the Spanish flair for sharp seasoning, the French mastery of sumptuous sauces, the African skill in fine cooking, and the Indian's knowledge of special herbs and fruits.

Speaking of Creole, conventioneers will certainly want to try gumbo while in New Orleans. Gumbo is the African word for okra; however, there is also a filet gumbo. Filet is powdered sassafras leaves and is sometimes used as a substitute for okra. Gumbo can include a variety of meats: chicken, turkey, ham, or fish, to name a few. It is served with rice as a spicy soup or a main course. Another staple of New Orleans is andouille. Andouille is a plump and spicy country sausage that is often served in red beans and rice. In addition to all the varied cuisines and the festive atmosphere of New Orleans, one can find other fascinating places to visit.

Plantation homes are popular historic sites for adults and children. The most famous of these, the Beauregard-Keyes House, was built in 1826 and was the home of Confederate general Pierre Gustave Beauregard. It was later purchased by Francis Parkinson Keyes and has been preserved with many of the original antiques. Other homes abound, surrounded by lovely gardens and courtyards and offering elegant dining on the premises, such as the restaurant at Randolph Hall.

There are many riverboat cruises featuring dixieland jazz, dancing, and fine food. The Creole Queen is just one of the paddle wheelers plying the mighty Mississippi. The Audubon Zoo, containing over 1200 species in their natural habitats, is another popular tourist site. Transportation is provided. Many Federationists might enjoy a walking tour of the French Quarter or Vieux Carre. This educational stroll also includes the Cafe du Monde and shopping at the Riverwalk and Jax Brewery on Decatur. The Aquarium of the Americas is one of the newest attractions, at the base of Canal Street in the French Quarter. It features aquatic life of every description in a variety of authentic natural settings. This stroll through nature should also whet one's appetite for a unique American excursion"a swamp tour"replete with alligators, water snakes, and hundreds of species of birds including egrets. Transportation and lunch are provided. Perhaps you have heard of the term Bayou, which is a Choctaw Indian word for creek, referring to the thousands of inland water passageways that wind through Louisiana.

These are just some of the possible sights to see in the wild and wonderful city of New Orleans. When one couples all this variety with the full agenda of the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind, one is almost overwhelmed by the question of where to start. No matter where Federationists begin, they cannot lose.

Wonderful accommodations at the Hyatt Regency Hotel are guaranteed. Southern hospitality at its best will be extended by this year's host affiliate, the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana. As in the past, hotel room rates for the convention are phenomenally low: singles, $28; doubles and twins, $35; triples, $38; and quads, $40. An additional occupancy tax of $2 per night will be added to the room rates, plus sales tax of eleven percent. There will be no charge for children under twelve in a room with their parents. Room reservations should be made by writing to: Hyatt Regency New Orleans, 500 Poydras Plaza, New Orleans, Louisiana 70140; phone: (504) 561-1234. Do not call the Hyatt toll-free 800 number. A full convention agenda, including division meetings, informative speakers, interesting exhibits of the latest technology, and an exciting banquet are always assured. All we can say is,"Laissez les bons temps rouler!" Let the good times roll.

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