Axios New Orleans

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🧑🏼‍🍳 It's Wednesday and National Ravioli Day. We love it, but does ravioli belong in a crawfish boil?

Today's weather: Mostly sunny with a high of 68.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios New Orleans member Clifford Decamp!

ğŸŽ§ Sounds like: "Almost There" by Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Tiana in "The Princess and the Frog."

Today's newsletter is 862 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Disney's love affair with New Orleans

Princess Tiana and her prince, Naveen, are turned into frogs in the 2009 Disney movie, "The Princess and the Frog." The couple now appear at the parks and in parades. Photo: Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG

It's been 15 years since Disney introduced us to Princess Tiana, who charmed her way into our hearts with her cooking, singing and bayou critter friends.

Why it matters: Princess Tiana was inspired by New Orleans chef Leah Chase.

  • Tiana was Disney's first Black princess and broke barriers, much like Chase did with her restaurant, especially during the Civil Rights Movement.

The big picture: D23, Disney's official fan club, is organizing events in New Orleans this weekend to commemorate the film's anniversary.

  • AMC will screen "The Princess and the Frog" on Saturday at the Elmwood theater.
  • The New Orleans Jazz Museum will host a D23 party featuring Keith David, who voices the film's villain, Dr. Facilier.

State of play: Disney has a long history with New Orleans. The story goes that Walt Disney was driving through the city with his family and fell in love with the people, food, music and culture.

  • He took that experience and translated it into New Orleans Square in Disneyland.
  • The inspiration for Disney's popular animatronic creations came from a mechanical bird Walt Disney found in New Orleans, according to Jason Recher, a vice president at Disney Parks.
  • There was talk that Disney even looked at opening Disney World in New Orleans before deciding on Orlando, where it opened in 1971.

Zoom in: Disney is raising Princess Tiana's profile in the Florida and California parks.

Between the lines: Disney has worked with the Chase family and other New Orleans culture bearers during the development of the ride and restaurants.

Full story

2. 🏀 March Madness with LSU women's team

LSU Tigers forward Angel Reese looks to score during the SEC women's basketball championship game against the South Carolina Gamecocks on March 10. Photo: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The LSU women's basketball team's journey to defend its NCAA national championship begins Friday.

Why it matters: The Tigers are helping to lead an unprecedented growth of interest in the sport.

The big picture: A record number of viewers watched LSU beat Iowa 102-85 to win the NCAA women's basketball national championship last year, per ESPN.

  • And the records have kept rolling in.

Catch up quick: Now, the Tigers are seeded at No. 3 for the third time in a row as March Madness returns.

  • They'll host No.14-seeded Rice at the PMAC at 3pm Friday. You can watch the game on ESPN.

State of play: Some things have changed for the Tigers since last year's championship win.

  • That victory helped power the team during the offseason to bring in some top-ranked fresh talent, including DePaul transfer Aneesah Morrow, Louisville transfer Hailey Van Lith and Mikaylah Williams, who was since named SEC Freshman of the Year.
  • It took a little time for the team to find its rhythm with the new blood, but LSU closed out its regular season with an eight-game winning streak before its SEC Championship loss.
  • Plus, the Tigers have averaged 86.7 points per game this season, behind only Iowa with 92.8.

Go deeper for more LSU TV records

3. 🤠 Fully Dressed: Hats off to a Hall of Famer

John Anderson, James Burton (center) and Toby Keith's son, Stelen Covel, attend the 2024 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction on Monday in Nashville. Photo: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

ğŸŽ¸ James Burton, a guitar virtuoso from outside Shreveport, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this week. He played with Elvis Presley and countless other greats. (Axios Nashville)

🤩 Peek inside a stunning French Quarter vacation home owned by philanthropist Sukey Novogratz. (Architectural Digest)

Saffron the Opossum has not yet been returned to his owner. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says the pet was malnourished and had fleas when agents seized him. ( | The Times-Picayune 🔒)

🍌 The LSU Tiger Girls performed their National Championship-winning choreography to "Smooth Criminal" with the Savannah Bananas. (Instagram)

  • LSU women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey also got "ejected" from the game. (USA Today)

4. 🥟 Fun food to try: Gumbo dumplings

These gumbo dumplings were served in a bowl with gumbo broth at Sun Chong. Photo: Carlie Kollath Wells/Axios

👋🏻 Carlie here. Sun Chong is restaurateur Larry Morrow's trendy fusion spot in the French Quarter that's described as "Korean inspired" and "influenced by hip-hop culture."

Why it matters: The restaurant is doing new things with crawfish, and I'm all about it.

What I ordered: Gumbo dumplings ($15), crawfish fried rice ($22) and tempura crawfish tails with cheesy grits ($22).

  • The gumbo dumplings were fun and not soup-dumplings like I expected. The broth was served in the bowl outside the dumplings.
  • My dining buddy and I loved the crawfish fried rice and crawfish and grits. The chef nailed these fusion dishes.

Zoom out: Morrow plans to open a new spot across from Sun Chong called Hide/Seek NOLA. The Instagram page describes it as a "clubstaurant."

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5. 📉 Stat to go: Closed primaries lose support

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Fewer Louisianans support closing state primaries today than they did before lawmakers opted to do so during a special legislative session earlier this year, according to a new poll.

Why it matters: A bill filed in the state Legislature would close even more primary elections.

By the numbers: Before lawmakers closed some state primaries, 56% of Louisianans disagreed with the move, according to JMC Analytics and Polling.

  • That number has now jumped to 69%, JMC says.

Yes, but: JMC Analytics and Polling conducted the poll for an unnamed "private subscriber." The company surveyed 660 likely voters between Feb. 19-21, and the poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.

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ğŸŽ¢ Carlie is excited to ride Tiana's Bayou Adventure when it opens at Disney World.

🙌 Chelsea is no Disney Adult, but she flippin' loves a roller coaster.

Tell a princess to subscribe.

Thanks to our editor Fadel Allassan and copy editor Carlin Becker.