New Orleans has been a city of tourists since the first fur trappers came down the Mississippi with a boat full of beaver pelts, took a look around, and said, "We should probably go ahead and drink a little too much here, non?" While New Orleans locals have a reputation for being friendly, there are a few things out-of-towners can say that get under our skin. Here are the most common offenders...
Nobody says that... at least, nobody from here, and when you ask your bartender how he likes living in N’Awlins, he’s smiling, but he’s also trying not to laugh in your face.
How do I get to Bourbon St?
The French Quarter is a treasured part of Louisiana history, but come on, there are so many other things to do in the city than hang out on Bourbon St. For instance, you can check out the historic homes in the Garden District, take a tour of Saint Louis Cemetery, or visit the incredible National WWII Museum. The city has way more to offer than $5 hand grenades (but for real, have at least a few of those, too... they are pretty great). Most locals avoid the throngs of blotto tourists flashing their bare chests for beads in The Quarter altogether, and rarely get any closer than Frenchmen St, which in and of itself is getting a little too on the touristy side.
I love Cajun culture!
Cajun culture is very cool... but Acadiana is an entirely different region of the state. New Orleans is a melting pot of many different cultures, though Cajun is not traditionally one of them. Acadians are the descendants of French Canadians who migrated to Louisiana in the 18th century and settled west of New Orleans along the bottom part of the state. Creoles, on the other hand, are descendants of colonial settlers, usually French and Spanish, although the term applies to people with African and Native American heritage, too.
Where should I eat?
It’s not that we hate that question, exactly. It’s just that the possibilities are endless. If you’re into the classics, Commander’s Palace is always reliably excellent. However, there are a lot of dining options that don’t get a lot of love from tourists looking for "authentic" Louisiana food. There’s more to the city than raw oysters and red beans & rice (though we have those in spades, and they're incredible), and many out-of-towners dismiss recommendations for truly amazing Vietnamese, Italian, or even German food. Their loss!
You don't sound Southern!
There’s no one way to have a Southern accent, and many New Orleans accents are closer to those found in Hoboken than anything from Gone with the Wind.
Voulez vous coucher avec moi?
If every female bartender in the Quarter or the Business District had a dollar for every time some overserved businessman from Duluth slurred Labelle at her, she’d have more cash than all of those dirtbags combined. The men who wrote that song weren’t even from New Orleans, and it’s kind of an offensive riff on the supposed promiscuity of New Orleans women of color, who historically have suffered horrendous discrimination. So yeah, you won't exactly be endearing yourself by chanting "Mocha chocalata ya ya" at a woman of African, Haitian, or Native American heritage.
This gumbo isn't very spicy
Mais non, cher! Gumbo should be well-spiced, but it’s not supposed to be like the Guatemalan insanity pepper episode of The Simpsons. Every time a tourist drowns a bowl of gumbo in Tabasco, a Creole maw maw weeps in heaven.
Did you lose anyone in Katrina?
Maybe yes, maybe no, but most long-time New Orleans locals don’t want to discuss one of the greatest tragedies in American history with outsiders. The city is still reeling from the storm in some ways; it’s not a tourist attraction.
Where is Brad and Angelina's house?
Literally no idea. In the Quarter somewhere probably?
Where can I find some crawdads?
The term crawdads makes our ears bleed. Please, please call them crawfish while you’re here. Also, March to July is peak crawfish season, so you might not be able to find any for Mardi Gras, sorry.
What's that smell?
It’s a mix of pee, spilled drinks, and shellfish pulled straight from muddy water. You get used to it.
It's too hot
Yes. Yes it is. The average temperature in the summer months in New Orleans is around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and the fact that the city is below sea level means the humidity can make it feel much, much hotter. There’s also no dry season when you’re basically underwater, so there’s no real way to predict whether or not you’ll find yourself in the middle of a torrential downpour. However, you can always duck into one of the city’s many bars or amazing restaurants to pass the time and wait out the storm.
Everything here is fried. No wonder everyone is so fat.
For some reason, haters love to hate on the BMIs of people in the South, particularly those in the Deep South. Yes, we have a long and rich history of foods that don’t exactly adhere to paleo diet standards, and to us, quinoa sounds like the stuff they use to make tonic water. But if there’s one thing we’re known for, it’s our hospitality, so try to return the favor.
Can I get another hurricane?
You absolutely can. One of the great things about New Orleans is that no one’s here to judge, and thanks to the lax open container laws, you can also get your hurricane in a plastic cup and take it to go. However, even though they taste as harmless and sugary as a slice of birthday cake, those bad boys have about four shots of rum per drink, so you may want to give it a minute and make sure you can still stand up before you start clamoring for the bartender at Pat O’Brien’s to make you another one.
I'm going to throw up
We know, sugar, we know. Just try to keep it out of the street. But if you can’t... these things happen.
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Emily Alford is a native Louisianan missing crawfish something fierce as she writes about home from Brooklyn, NY. She tweets sometimes, and you can follow her @AlfordAlice.