When most people visit a city, they make a note of major museums, art galleries and attractions. When I visit a city, I make a list of food to eat and restaurants to visit. You can imagine that going to New Orleans (for a culinary conference, no less) was going to be amazing. I literally gained 5 pounds in 5 days.
–Etouffee, a creamy tomato-y crawfish mixture served on top of rice.
–Chicken gumbo, and the real stuff at that. It starts with a roux (as everything in creole cooking does) and is thickened with okra.
–Gumbo z’herbes is a vegetarian gumbo made during lent, with 7 kinds of greens. It looks suspect, but my god, it’s delicious.
–Jambalaya, which is typically served on rice with file (feel-ay) powder sprinkled on top.
–Crawfish came in giant tubs, steamed with tomatoes, onions and garlic. You suck out the brains and eat the tails, with salt water running down your elbows the entire time.
–Beignets from Cafe du Monde are world famous, and come piping hot from the deep fryer, dusted in icing sugar. Every surface of the outdoor patio is covered in sugar. The beignets are served with chicory coffee, which is slightly bitter.
-A po boy is any sandwich served in a squishy bun, and my favourite was “the peacemaker”: half deep-fried oysters, half deep-fried shrimp. The name either refers to the fact that the half-and-half is a compromise between the two fillings, or that it was a sandwich brought home by a philandering husband to his wife.
–Oysters are consumed raw on the half-shell, or deep-fried and stuffed in a po boy.
–Grits surprised me! It’s like corn-based wheat, served plain or with your choice of butter, cream or cheese.
–Biscuits are mile-high and super fluffy, and word on the street is that Mother’s is the place to get them. If that isn’t the best place to get them, I’d like to visit the place that is.
–Praline (pr-awe-leen) is the sweet concoction of pecans in chocolatey fudgey candy. Diabetics, beware.
-A muffaletta is a giant sandwich on foccaccia, stuffed full of cured meats, cheese and olives.
–Bourbon. Lots of it.
–Moonshine, which tasted like nutmeg.
–Abita is the local microbrew, and it’s tasty. There’s an amber ale, and a strawberry ale.
I did not get to eat real southern fried chicken, and that makes me just a little bit sad. But then I think about all the tasty things I did get to try, and I feel better.