Life Memoir New Orleans Non-fiction

New Orleans not for the local New Orleanians anymore

I’m just here to rant tonight after community market. I felt lost in my own neighborhood, going in these buildings was like warping to a different city. The establishments I visited today were places my family shopped at as a kid and I was excited to go there as an adult, but I would not have any feelings of dejavu.

It has me wondering if this is what New Orleans will feel and look like in the coming years. Don’t get me wrong the establishments were beautiful but didn’t have that New Orleans feel.

Let me start at the beginning. This afternoon I decided to finally get up and run some errands, we were completely out of toilet tissue and there was no substitute for that, so I had to go to the store and I refuse to pay $4 for no ply toilet tissue at the corner store. I love the neighborhood corner store for everything, but personal and household products. You can feed your family at the corner store, especially with the delicious heavy handed portions that the neighborhood cook, Ms.Vernanadine dishes out. For $10.00 you can feed 4-5 people, big people, and its good stuff like fried catfish, baked macaroni, and cheese and smothered corn or an arm long to-boy to your liking. I’m getting hungry just telling y’all about it.

I needed groceries as well, if it was just me, I could just eat out every day but I have a 7-year-old who likes milk, cereal and what she refers to as ” hot food cooked on my stove.” So, off to the store I go and I was excited to go to the new grocery store that was blocks away.

For the past year, I would drive almost 5 miles to the closest grocery store. I decided to make a walking field trip of it to get some pictures to share with my followers, plus it was beautiful out. At first, my daughter was down to accompany me until she opened the front door and saw a few of her friends heading to the after-school program at the church.

I walked her to the church, where some of the church members were retouching the paint. Our neighborhood church congregation is another change that came with Katrina, but it’s not a bad change because they are for our community and respect the natives of New Orleans. Plus, my baby girl lights up when she goes over there and they all welcome her, know her personally as with all the children that attend. My daughter gave a hug to one of the ladies with a paint brush and asked to paint. The mother in me said, ” No, it’s an adult job and the kids are inside, you go on in.” The lady asked if it was ok for her to paint a few strokes, stating ” we love that helping spirit” and my baby girl started painting as I walked off on to my adventure.

I walked down the restored neutral ground, one of few restorations that didn’t change, but add to New Orleans. If you don’t know what a neutral ground is, well it’s a strip of the sidewalk or ground that runs up the middle of the street dividing the two sides where one can walk safely. I love walking along this route under all the beautiful oak trees, lines of shotgun houses and the air just smell of New Orleans. I love it, it defines New Orleans.

Today I decided I would end my standoff with St.Roch Market after my sister brought me some farmed raised, Not saltwater oysters! Can you believe the nerve of them to serve farm-raised plain axx oysters?? Why? The worker didn’t even know why. Prior to Katrina was an open-air market, a multi-vendor market selling fresh produce, fresh seafood, prepared foods, butchered items, and sundries of all varieties.
In the 1990s it had fallen into disrepair but was still an active part of the neighborhood. For a time it housed a Chinese food restaurant. In 2005 it was serving inexpensive seafood and po-boy sandwiches until the evacuation of the city for Hurricane Katrina. Like most of the city, it was damaged in the hurricane and extensive Federal levee failure floods that followed, and the market did not reopen.

In the 10 years that followed Katrina the building was gutted but sat vacant until 2012, when the city of New Orleans, under Mayor Mitch Landrieu began a campaign to obtain state and federal funding to restore the building. In August 2014 the city leased the building to a private business who returned the building to a multi-tenant “food hall” which is a modernization of the building’s original use selling both prepared and fresh foods in a multi-vendor format.

Now, the St. Roch Market is a high-end southern food hall featuring a diverse lineup of foods and beverage, surveyors. Did you all noticed I said “Southern?” Maybe, I’ll give add New Orleans inspired flare. To be one of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood, one would have #1 complimented the locals taste, # be affordable for locals, especially the kids who walk past it after school and #3 has a New Orleans feel. You know what let me add #4, vendor rent should be affordable for local chefs and cooks.

I ordered a salad and desserts because of I just knew I would be treated with some true New Orleans cooking, cooked by local entrepreneurs, but I should have remembered the oysters…The salad was very tasty and the pastries were delicious for a total of $32.00.

I ate outside took a few pictures and off I went to Robert’s for my next disappointment.

Robert’s was a Schwegmann Brothers Giant Super Market, located on St. Claude Avenue near the intersection of Elysian Fields Avenue prior to Katrina. I blogged about Schwegmann in the fall, I’ll try to pull it up. The store opened in 1946, closed due to Katrina and Robert’s grand opening was this weekend, which shows you how long we didn’t have a supermarket in our area.

I could give you the whole layout of the beautiful store with the cheese and wine samples greeting you as you entered and the mini checkout lanes that prompted me to turn my basket around to look for the full checkout line because there could be no way it could hold over 15 items and I had about 50.

I must admit they pulled me in with the heat and serve crawfish etouffee, salmon with baby potatoes, chicken cordon blue and the list goes on. That was just what she asked for “hot food cooked on my stove” well she won’t know I warmed it up, but at $10 for a 9-ounce serving I feel ripped off. Simple things such as bread, milk, cheese, and cereal were $1+ more than going to a store in Gentilly. Ish, you get to see the lake driving to Rouses and Robert’s is in the hood, but to give you a peek into the look of it I’ll let you laugh at what my Lyft driver who kept passing up the store told me after 12 minutes of looking for me. He said, “Miss. I’m so sorry, I would have never known you were right here because they have the doors hidden from street view, I thought you were at Footlocker.”

As I walked s couple times to retrieve my groceries, he asked me why I didn’t roll the basket out to the car. The wheels locked at the exit door. Finally, he asked was it a whole foods store, because he never picked anyone up here or knew it was there. After 2 months of being opened, I wonder why, I would say the store wasn’t for locals, well not the ones like me. My 40 items came to $261 and I’ll never shop there again, $4 for one box of cereal and that was the sale price.

Y’all know I love food and eat at the fanciest of places, but living in an urban neighborhood in New Orleans you want just that. I love both places, they did a wonderful job with the renovations, but in doing so they took the soul out the buildings, the prices will force the residents out of the neighborhood they called home prior to Katrina.

Patronizing these establishments gave me a glimpse of what they are attempting to turn my city, the city I longed for when I lived in Minnesota, the city whose soul called for me to return home, my city New Orleans is being renovated into just what these places are, home for the tourist.

Tomorrow ill tell yall how I feel about people moving here from other states and now are the go to New Orleans specialist and making tons of money from their views of our city. If you ever been to Jamaica you know you are greeted by a Jamaican, driven to your hotel and around town by a Jamaican, food cooked by a Jamaican, your tour guide is a Jamaican. Yes, you are overseas, in a foreign country, but isn’t that how tourist describes New Orleans and yet tourist trust another tourist in our city. Why?

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