This market has the distinction of being the country’s oldest. Vendor stalls are to be found both inside and outside the building. Then there was the irresistible music, which can only emanate from New Orleans’ black musicians. And there were several. They were having so much fun, fun playing, fun kidding each other, and fun being under the sun of the city they loved. It was simply infectious, and it became quite difficult to tear oneself away.
A couple of landmarks anchor the market, each with its own claim to fame. Directly behind it is the famed Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, where you can shop till your drop. A young Joan of Arc bronze statue graces the grounds as well, and of course you know her story. A lovely fountain gives the eye a rest and surrounding it are stone benches on which you can sit, though some use them as a bed for the night. No doubt the smell of various foods will be tickling your nose throughout this journey, so come hungry!
At the French Market you will be able to take home ingredients to recreate your NO (New Orleans) experience; first and foremost are the ubiquitous garlic pendants that are fragrant and used freely in Cajun cuisine. Most likely, at one point, they came in handy as vampire repellents. There will be a million jars of different sauces with degrees of "hot" on the label, so pick your poison. Smoked alligator anyone? Yes, no kidding. Screaming signs of fish-food beckon: shrimp, oysters, crabs, cray or craw fish, and gator on a stick (their version of a corn dog?). The French Market Seafood Company not only has a presence in the market itself, but they also have a website online. Should you wish to visit, please click here
This is where I became acquainted with dirty rice, and I have loved it ever since. I’ve had it at home, tamed a bit with yogurt. There was also "wild pecan rice," which promised to be heavenly, but alas - it never made it into the basket. You’ll find your gumbo and etouffée bases here, upon which you can build. There are lots of different styles of red beans and alcoholic drink mixes of which I know next to nothing about. But then comes my favorite, and you can definitely find these online - the French Market Mixes, which are conveniently packaged, allowing a neophyte to serve anything foolproof. A mere $4 will buy you a pound of beer bread mix or fried green tomato mix, Southern-style grits, sweet potato muffin mix, and Nawlins (New Orleans) cheese grits; for $5.00 you can produce white chocolate bread pudding mix, jalapeño cornbread mix, or pecan cornbread mix. Hungry?
This is complemented by jewelry, handmade clothing, carved masks of international origins, original paintings and watercolors, CD’s, porcelain masks (I bought two at the incredible price of $10), souvenirs of all kinds, woven straw baskets, and more.