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New Orleans Information

New Orleans Good food, great music, and a celebrating spirit combine to make New Orleans, Louisiana one of America's favorite cities for visitors. The city's French Creole influence, long jazz musical heritage, and annual Mardi Gras festivities are just a few of the things that make New Orleans unique.

A variety of ethnic heritages influence New Orleans cuisine. French Creole and Cajun foods are specialties. The two cuisines share roots in France though Cajun cooking has a more rustic lineage while the history of Creole food is more aristocratic. Seafood, rice, beans, sausage and distinctive spices, especially cayenne and black pepper, are found in abundance in New Orleans homes and restaurants.

The combined influences of African, European and Latin American cultures have influenced the music of New Orleans as well. Long considered one of the major musical cities in the country, New Orleans claims to be the birthplace of jazz, a distinctive American music that developed in the early 1900s. Louis Armstrong, considered the king of jazz, hailed from New Orleans, but the city can boast of numerous other artists and groups, and the music scene has remained vigorous for over a century. Not only jazz but R&B, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, bluegrass, and other styles of music are celebrated in the city. Visitors can hear all those types of music and more at the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, usually just called Jazz Fest.

New Orleans, a very Catholic region, is perhaps best known for its yearly celebration of Carnival, a festival season that runs between Twelfth Night and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. The height of the festivities come on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins. Masquerades and parades are important elements of the celebration. Revelers find Bourbon Street, in the city's historic French Quarter, especially lively during Mardi Gras.

New Orleans is a port city in southeast Louisiana. It's situated on the Mississippi River about 100 miles upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. Because of its vulnerable location, the region is prone to hurricanes. It has weathered many of those over the years, but it suffered extensive damages in 2005 when the city's levee system failed in the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina. About 80% of the city flooded, and recovery is still ongoing. The vigorous and creative spirit of New Orleans has definitely helped that process.