I am from Louisiana and I have not ever eaten nutria and I don’t plan on it. They are basically giant rats from hell. I saw one kill a goldren retriever once while I was duck hunting with my father and his buddy. The poor dog went into the swamp grass to retrieve a fallen duck and got attacked. The poor girl’s side was ripped completely open and her organs were exposed. She died on the way to the vet.
Nutria is rare in restaraunts in New Orleans due to lack of demand. The reason that the tried to start the trend was that that the Sheriff’s Department and “bounty hunters” have to go out at night to the levees and shoot as many of them as possible. They needed something to do with them. The nutria borrow into the side of the levees and weaken them. The levees are the only thing that keeps New Orleans a city instead of a swamp because it is 4 to 5 feet below sea level.
That being said, New Orleans cuisine is awsome. I recommend fried alligator either in a po boy or by itself with dipping sauce, gumbo, shrimp creole, Banana’s Foster over baked brie, fried catfish, gulf shrimp, boiled crawfish, raw oysters. My god, I could go on and on.
New Orleans isn’t like other American cities (to say the least). The culture is heavily ingrained and you won’t have any problem finding all of these foods and more especially in the French Quarter or most other areas of the city.
One tip, the French Quarter is a blast but don’t spend ALL your time there. The St. Charles street car runs from just before Boubon Street across Canal all the way into the gorgeous garden district, uptown, and back. The romantic streetcars run 24 hours a day for a nominal fee and are used as real transportation rather than just a tourist attraction.
One reason that I bring this up is that it is also perfectly convienent to stay a little away from the French Quarter up St. Charles into the Garden District. Even if you stay out until 4 am (which you will oddly find yourself doing), the street cars will still be running to take you back to your hotel.
The 1700 block of Canal Street is pretty dicey. You really need to have street smarts to walk up parts of Canal Street. It is not a question of IF someone will approach you but WHEN and how many of them will their be. You have to be prepared to push through people if they surround you. They feed on tourists that don’t know anything about New Orleans street culture. People that look like they know what they are doing generally get left alone.
People WILL try to stop you and ask you something for whatever bullshit reason. Whatever it is, pretend that you don’t hear them and keep walking preferably very rapidly. I don’t mean to scare you. I went to college in New Orleans (Tulane) and nothing serious ever happened to me. However, tourists get scammed, mugged, or worse all the time by not following these rules. Also, the upper part of Bourbon Street is safe as is Royal Street. However, do not walk on the side streets or backwaters of the French Quarter by yourself. Bad people tend to lurk in the shadows.
If you tell us when you are going, we might be able to help your hotel search. I have a couple of ideas that are about a 10 minute streetcar ride away from the heart of the quarter if that is what you are interested in.