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New Orleans 101: The Food

30 Jul


If you end up at some boring chain restaurant eating bland hamburgers while you’re in New Orleans, you’ll never forgive yourself. Avoid such shame by familiarizing yourself with the dishes below — and be well prepared to savor forkfuls of the culture, tradition and recipe perfection that have earned New Orleans its culinary legacy.

A trip to New Orleans is not complete without a steamy helping of gumbo.Treat yourself to a culinary carnival created by a mix of West European,African,Caribbean and Native American Indian influences.Classic gumbo recipes call for okra simmered for hours in a stock made as rich as possible,starting with a roux and the“trinity” — onions,celery and bell peppers. Served over rice,variations include seafood gumbo with shrimp, oysters and crabmeat, or chicken gumbo with andouille sausage.
Sometimes called a “French doughnut,”these decadent treats were brought to Louisiana by the Acadians. Abeignetisa square piece of dough that,upon being deep fried,forms a slightly doughy yet slightly crispy pillow and is covered with powdered sugar.There are other savory versions, with fillings such as crawfish or shrimp,also seen on New Orleans menus.

This spiced,heavily smoked pork sausage is a key flavor in main dishes served all over the city.Originally brought to Louisiana by French colonists, today’s Cajun andouille is the best-known variety in the United States — and the spiciest. The sausage is seasoned with salt, cracked black pepper and garlic and is smoked over pecan wood and sugar cane for up to eight hours.

While filled with classically Italian flavors such as salami, ham, provolone and the piquant olive spread that gives it its distinctive taste, this famous sandwich was born in New Orleans. Restaurants all over the city have their own
versions, but for a taste of the original, visit Central Grocery, which invented the sandwich in 1903.

Crawfish Etouffee
A local favorite, crawfish étouffée could be called gumbo’s spiced-up, savory cousin. Stemming from the French word for “smothered,” this thicker Cajun creation employs hot spices, including cayenne pepper, a mélange of onion and green pepper and hints of garlic.  With loads of fresh crawfish, this tantalizing Southern treat is typically enjoyed over rice.

Shrimp Creole
As time-honored as shrimping is to Louisiana, this coveted culinary delight offers fresh peeled shrimp, chopped onion, green pepper, green onion and chopped tomato. Satisfy your Southern spice craving while keeping the calorie factor low— this tomato-based favorite is said to be a healthy, light and flavorful Creole dish.



There are many variations of this classic New Orleans sandwich, as well as a few different stories about its origins. A couple of commonalities across all interpretations: long, submarine-style bread and an affordable price. Po-boys usually are piled high with a deli meat such as roast beef and topped in debris (a tasty version of gravy). They are also filled with fried seafood such as shrimp, catfish or crawfish mixed with a specialty white sauce that is a more flavorful version of tarter sauce.

Oyster Rockefeller
Oysters Rockefeller can be ordered all over the city, but the New Orleans institution Antoine’s holds the title of creator, serving the original dish since 1899.
Though the exact recipe remains a secret, chefs describe the dish as a combination of oysters, capers, parsley and parmesan cheese topped with a rich white sauce of butter, flour and milk.

Red Beans and Rice
This Creole classic is a staple on menus across the city, and many restaurants feature it on Mondays — that’s because New Orleanians traditionally made the dish with leftover pork from Sunday dinner. Try a modern version at the Napoleon House and the Gumbo Shop, which serve red beans and rice with smoked sausage.

Bananas Foster
This distinctive dessert — made with bananas, ice cream, dark rum, sugar and spices — was famously invented at Brennan’s Restaurant right here in New Orleans. The flamed treat remains Brennan’s most popular item, requiring 35,000 pounds of bananas each year!


Bananas Foster

A meal in itself, this simple yet flavorful classic New Orleans stew consists of sausage, vegetables and a variety of seafood. The final touch — adding raw long-grain rice to absorb flavors from the stock — is what sets this one-pot wonder apart from similar ethnic dishes. Variations include chicken or turkey jambalaya.


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