Best Foods to Try When Traveling to Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Posted on 02/23/2017
Food is religion in New Orleans, and this area is definitely one of America’s best-known culinary meccas.
The cuisine is distinctive, unique, rich and spicy all at the same time and heavily influenced by its Creole, Cajun, and African-American cultures.
It’s no wonder so many famous chefs have come out of New Orleans to become common household names. Mark Twain once said that “New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin,” and we all know how wise Mark Twain was.
Café au Lait & Beignets
Let’s face it. You can’t visit New Orleans without saying you’ve had a beignet (pronounced ben-yay)—a square French doughnut served steaming-hot and covered with loads of powdered sugar, some of which you’ll end up wearing! Since 1862, the iconic Café du Monde in historic Jackson Square has been selling its chicory café au lait and beignets to an incredibly happy public.
Gumbo has come to be one of the best examples of the multicultural melting pot that has made New Orleans what it is. A creole classic, this “stew” is made with okra, a roux for thickening, savory seasonings, seafood, chicken, andouille sausage (or a combination of the three meats) and of course rice. Famed chef Paul Prudhomme made gumbo famous with his own “Gumbo Ya-Ya", found at Mr. B's Bistro in the French Quarter.
A New Orleans staple, this traditional rice dish consists of chicken, sausage, seafood, or any mixture of the three with lots of seasonings. The story is that the dish was born late one night years ago when a traveler arrived at a New Orleans Inn long after dinner had been served. The inn’s cook, a man named Jean, was told to “balayez or “throw something together” to feed the man. The results were delicious and Jambalaya came to be. You can find it in almost any traditional New Orleans restaurant.
Invented to feed poor striking streetcar workers in 1929, Po-boys are lightly fried seafood (most often shrimp) dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo served in an overstuffed crunchy French roll. Many restaurants have this delightful dish on their menu, but Johnny’s Po-Boys on St. Louis Street have been serving these incredible sandwiches since 1950.
Located on Decatur Street in the middle of New Orleans French Quarter, Central Grocery is a third generation, old-fashioned grocery store founded in 1906 by Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant who’s famous for creating the muffuletta. This scrumptious deli sandwich is served on round Italian bread with sesame seeds then spread with a delicious olive salad and filled with meats and cheeses like ham, capicola, salami, mortadella, mozzarella, and provolone. There’s nothing like it anywhere else.
The word etoufee comes from the French word “to smother.” The Creole dish resembles a thick stew, seasoned to perfection and chocked full of delicious plump bayou crawfish served over rice. A dish so popular and so associated with New Orleans; any traditional Big Easy restaurant will have this classic sumptuous entrée on their menu.
A fairly recent New Orleans specialty, char-grilled oysters are now the rave, and restaurants compete with each another on who makes the best. Topped with a magical mixture of breadcrumb, herbs, cheese, and melted butter, these oysters have taken New Orleans by storm. Drago’s Seafood Restaurant claims the honor of making their charbroiled oysters into a local staple and others soon followed. No matter where we’ve had them in the Big Easy, they’ve always tantalized the palate.
Rich and sweet and good to eat, pralines are made with sugar, pecans or almonds and cream. This delectable confection has been made in New Orleans since French settlers brought the recipe with them from the Old World. Its history is as rich as its flavor, which is so amazing, it’s almost difficult to describe and can be found in confectionary stores throughout New Orleans.
New Orleans signature dessert, now world-famous, Bananas Foster was invented in 1951 at Brennan's Vieux Carre Restaurant on Bourbon Street. The flambé delight served tableside is created with an incredible mixture of bananas, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum and banana liqueur served with vanilla ice cream.