Boy and I are happiest when exploring a new (to us at least) city, museum, historic house, area, or bi-way, and where we come across something--whether exalted or quotidian--that is a complete realization of what it is or can be, and where it hasn't become degraded or cheapened beyond recognition from what it once was.
When traveling, we are interesting in learning the whys, hows, and wherefores of what and where we are visiting, its history, and the people who made it, or--in some cases--the visionaries who preserved it. We are curious to learn what makes what we are looking at unique or special. We are not, however, focused only on exploring the fanciest or most elevated examples of what is available to see or experience; we take great pleasure in simplicity, too.
We are particularly gratified when we come across something in our travels that is the very essence of its type, regardless of provenance or age, and that is not an imitation of or "in the style" of something else, but rather the real deal. And that doesn't just apply to the fine and decorative arts, but includes ancillary arts, too, such as culinary, domestic, or performed.
Just as we enjoy seeing the kitchens and support buildings of the grand historic houses we visit, we are as pleased to sit at a picnic table and tuck in to a luncheon at a justifiably famous old-style seafood shack as we are to slip in to a banquette to dine in what is considered to be the best restaurant in town (sometimes infinitely more so).
What I find noteworthy, and what makes such forays worthwhile for me, is when I come across a place or experience that is resolutely and quintessentially what it is, whether highbrow or low. In other words, when it is truly authentic.
The reason I am pondering this subject of authenticity is that Boy and I recently spent a long weekend in New Orleans where we enjoyed a fascinating and stimulating three and a half days taking in as much of the city as we could see--that is when we weren't busy eating (and drinking) our way through it. Neither of us had been to New Orleans for many years, and we knew relatively little about it, except that it has a reputation for incredible architecture, amazing food, devil-may-care nightlife, plagues and disasters, and an indominatable, unbreakable spirit.
And such a reputation is well-founded, we learned during our all-too-brief visit. I was, frankly, astonished not only by the City's beauty, majesty, and level of preservation in the face of great calamity, but also by the integrity and authenticity of much of what I saw. And it got me thinking about this topic as a worthwhile subject for this blog.
Over the next several weeks I plan on interspersing my regular postings with a number of essays about aspects of our trip to New Orleans that I found particularly compelling, and which I hope you, Gentle Reader, will also find of interest--particularly should you plan to visit the Crescent City at some point.
Tell me, is there something that you've come across recently that you consider particularly authentic, that resonated with you?