I got out of my car this afternoon about a block off of Magazine Street, and the drum beat from a local school marching band hit me like a linebacker. My first thought, and my second and third: I love New Orleans.

I walked around the corner to check it out, and expected to see teenagers; the oldest kids were around 10, I think. I love New Orleans.

That experience reminded me, too, of the lunch I had the other day at Peche. I had a status conference in the afternoon, and I decided to bring some work with me to lunch to prepare. I do that a lot; in part it’s a way for me to rationalize having a nice lunch, but honestly I do get a good bit of work done when I’m away from my office phone and email.

The fact that I bring work to lunch doesn’t mean I ignore my fellow diners, though, and on this occasion I met a lovely young woman who said she dined at Peche around once a week. She knew she was a regular, she said, when her server asked her if she wanted her usual order. She told me the story as though she was a little embarrassed about it, but not really. Because she, like most of us in New Orleans, don’t really get embarrassed about where or what we eat.

Carnival is coming up, and it feels like it’s too soon. I didn’t exactly have a blowout over the New Year, but I still feel as though I should try to detox a bit. And I am, because I have finally committed to kicking the nicotine monkey, but here we are a few weeks away from Fat Tuesday, and I am absolutely not ready for the chaos. I am not ready for the parades and the traffic. I am not ready for the guests who will be coming into town. I am not ready to hoist my daughters on my shoulders as they scream for beads.

I am not only not ready for all of this; I am not entirely looking forward to it, but I love New Orleans, and I love that we have it. 

I’m writing this on the 4th anniversary of my marriage, and while my wife and I are not going out this evening, I think I speak for both of us when I say we are content.

Tonight for dinner I cooked pasta I bought from my friend chef Bob Iacovone, who is currently working with chef Dan Esses at the Dryades Public Market. I made a béchamel, then added some mustard and cheese before stirring in the cooked pasta. I put the whole mess into a buttered baking dish, topped it with more cheese and some breadrumbs, then put it under the broiler to finish.

I think at least one of my kids still prefers the Kraft version of Mac’ n Cheese, but they at least tolerate my version.

The fact that I can buy pasta from friends, at a public market that’s on my way home from work is just another reason I love New Orleans. The market is a few blocks away from Café Reconcile, which is another reason I love New Orleans.

We have our problems, that’s for sure: crime, poverty, institutional racism and let’s not even think about our issues with infrastructure; but for all that, I wouldn’t live anywhere else. I suspect most of you agree with me.

If you don’t, feel free to comment, but don’t expect me care.