Laissez les bons temps rouler! Eatocracy is in New Orleans this week getting ready for the second edition of our Secret Supper. We'll be sharing the people, purveyors and places that make this such a significant food town, and hope you'll join in with your questions, memories, restaurant suggestions and general bonhomie.
But first, how much do you really know about the distinctive eats of New Orleans? Consider this your crash course to the Big Easy's best bites.
Bananas Foster - Chef Paul Blangé created Bananas Foster at Brennan's Restaurant in 1951. Bananas are flambéed in a butter, sugar, cinnamon, banana liqueur and dark rum sauce before being served over vanilla ice cream. According to Brennan's, the dessert is named after Richard Foster, who was on the New Orleans Crime Commission alongside Owen Edward Brennan, the founder of the restaurant.
Beignets - Rectangular pieces of dough are deep-fried and covered with powdered sugar. They are typically served in orders of three alongside a blend of dark roasted coffee and chicory.
Boudin - A spicy Cajun sausage. Boudin blanc is a light-in-color variation typically made with rice and pork meat - seafood can also be used. Boudin noir is a darker-colored pork sausage that is made using the pig's blood as well.
Cochon de lait - This translates from French to English as "pig in milk," but in actuality cochon de lait is basically pit-roasted whole suckling pig.
Couche couche - A traditional Cajun breakfast of fried cornmeal mush. It is typically served with hot milk and cane syrup.
Crawfish - Also known as crayfish or crawdads, crawfish are freshwater crustaceans that resemble a tiny, spiny lobster.
Étouffée - Derived from the French word "étouffer" meaning to "smother," this gravy-like dish is poured over crawfish and rice. Étouffée typically uses a lighter roux and one type of seafood, whereas gumbo uses a more cooked, darker roux and multiple proteins.
Filé powder - A powder of ground and dried sassafras leaves used to flavor and thicken gumbo. It's also sometimes called gumbo filé.
Fried alligator - Alligator meat is typically cut into bite-size nuggets before being seasoned, battered, fried and served with remoulade, mustard sauce or aïoli for dipping. Louisiana alligator is often also used in jambalayas and gumbos.
Gumbo - A spiced stew thickened with a roux, okra or filé and cooked with whatever meat (Andouille sausage, tasso, chicken, etc.), seafood (shrimp, crawfish, etc.) and vegetables the cook has on hand.
Gumbo z'herbes - A Cajun-spiced gumbo of mixed greens (turnips, collards, kale, etc.) typically served at Lent because it's typically made without meat (though, you can throw some ham hock into the mix if you wish.).
Hog's head cheese - First of all, this ain't your average Parmesan. Hog's head cheese, often called souse, is a pâté-like mixture of boiled pork parts, pigs’ feet and vinegar.
Jambalaya - A stew-like dish of meat (chicken and Andouille), vegetables (including the trinity: celery, peppers and onions) and rice - comparable to a zesty paella, if you will.
King Cake - This cinnamon dough confection is brightly iced in purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power. Whomever finds the plastic baby Jesus in their slice is supposed to have good luck, and is responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next party.
Maque choux - Similar to succotash and often served as a side dish, maque choux combines corn, green and red peppers, tomatoes and onion. The traditional way sautés the ingredients in bacon grease, but butter and oil are often used.
Muffaletta - A sandwich made on round Italian bread and filled with cold cuts (salami, soppressata, ham, etc.) cheese and an olive salad spread. Whether it should be served cold or hot is a topic of hot debate.
Oysters Rockefeller - This baked oyster dish (oysters are baked in their shells with a mixture of finely chopped herbs, breadcrumbs and lots of butter) is traced back to 1899 at Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans. It was such a rich dish, the restaurant's proprietor thought the dish could only be appropriately named after the nation's richest man at the time, John D. Rockefeller.
Po’ Boy - A French bread sandwich typically filled with fried seafood (oysters or shrimp) or roast beef and gravy. According to Michael Mizell-Nelson, a history professor at the University of New Orleans, the name comes from the Martin Brothers' Coffee Stand and Restaurant in the French Market. In 1929, New Orleans transit workers went on strike and the Martin Brothers, in support, fed the protestors. They wrote in a letter, "We fed those men free of charge until the strike ended. Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming, one of us would say, 'Here comes another poor boy.'"
Pralines - A sweet patty candy made of brown sugar, butter and pecans.
Sazerac - Back in 1838, Antoine Peychaud, used to mix brandy, absinthe and a dash of his secret family bitters recipe for guests at his pharmacy. The cocktail spread in popularity so much that the Sazerac cocktail turned into a bar that ultimately turned into a bottled liquor company, according to the Sazerac company. The official Sazerac cocktail today contains sugar, Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Herbsaint, Peychaud's Bitters and lemon peel.
Ramos gin fizz - According to the New Orleans Bar Association, this alcoholic beverage, also called the New Orleans Fizz, was created by Henry Ramos in 1888. The cocktail is made by vigorously shaking gin, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white, simple syrup, cream, orange flower water, and soda water together.
Red beans and rice - This dish was traditionally supposed to be made on Mondays when people had a leftover hambone from Sunday supper. Monday was also wash day, and before the washer and dryer were invented, folks needed a dish that could slow simmer on the stove without needed too much tending to.
Roux - The French term for cooked flour and oil, it is usually used to thicken soups or other sauces. It is the foundation of many New Orleans dishes, including gumbo.
Tasso - Tasso ham is a Cajun-spiced (typically cayenne pepper and garlic) pork shoulder (Boston butt) that has been cured and then heavily smoked.
Turtle soup - Pretty self-explanatory. A soup flavored with the flesh of a turtle.
Did we happen to miss your favorite taste of New Orleans? Give us sometime for lagniappe in the comments section.
If your on I-10 headed west through New Orleans, next exit past the airport turnoff is Loyola go left to Vets, look for the Check-in/Check-Out Deli at the BP filling station, best Po-Boys I've ever had.
Snapper Ponchartrain is also a fantastic dish that I crave quite often.
Andoille sausage? Yumminess
They mentioned Boudin sausage, but not all the awesome uses for it, such as cajun caviar and boudin sandwiches. Split open the sausage and add even more seasonings to it, then spread it on crackers or on french bread...delicious! Until you have had it in those ways, you haven't truly experienced the Boudin sausage.
Eating a plate full of Beignets and drinking a cup of coffee at the Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans, as the Sun comes up is a pleasure beyond description. Life is good at that moment in time.
Thanks for making me smile – what you described is complete and absolute contentment. It's been too long since I was there.
I visited Meauxbar last June which was recommended by a French Qtr bartender named, Tim! The food, atmosphere and service was incredible. I highly recommend the Crawfish Crepes!!!! Divine!!! New Orleans is in my "Top 5" best cities for great food!!!!
The New Orleans Bar Association article on the Ramos Gin Fizz was written by me, Ned Hémard. You failed to mention the author. Thank you.
Yes, You missed the Hurricane!
Brennan's Bloody Mary – best one I've ever had...love the pickled greed beans.
make those "green" beans
What about Big A*s Beers to go!!!
If you are planning a trip to to New Orleans, call ahead (3-6 months or more) and get a reservation for the Chef's Table at the Commander's Palace. Seats 4 (no more no less) and you will experience heaven. The chef will create a 7 course dining experience beyond your wildest expectations, with optional wine pairings. I should add that the Chef starts by asking you questions about your likes-dislikes which he blends into the most amazing creations. You will spend the entire evening there, and it is worth every penny.
I used to work downtown New Orleans and there is this small Deli called FredRick's (on the Ave.) that have the best batter for fried catfish and fried shrimp poboys.
loks like a couple of people mentioned this already...
How about Pascal Manale's BBQ SHRIMP???
Image #3 is boudin, not fried.
I noticed some of you are coming down for CARNIVAL this year, I thought I would give you all a great secret the local use.... Its seating on ST CHARLES AVE with Bathrooms and theres street food all around ... depending on the parade the seats can go from 8 bucks to 50 dollars Mardi Gras Day to see the big daddy parades REX AND ZULU ....
so have fun and enjoy MARDI GRAS
I live in NEW ORLEANS, so I have a couple favs, GUMBO at the GUMBO SHOP on St Peter in the Quarter, POBOYS at MAHONYS on Magazine Street, Burgers at PORT OF CALL, VOODOO BAR B QUE on ST CHARLES AVE, and for overall New Orleans food MENAS PALACE on Charters in the Quarter, for great southern food LIL DIZZYS on Esplanade Ave fantastic and great prices... La Peniche in the Marigngy Triangle on Decatur, Louisiana Pizza Kitchen at the FRENCH MARKET ... I have to admit these arent the fancy nice hoity toity places people know New Orleans for, these are the great little places locals like me go to with friends to eat and have a nice time, where we dont need TUX's nor a thousand bucks for the check .... But its still good food at least to some of us here ...
La Peniche in the Marigngy Triangle is on DAUPHINE STREET ............sorry
Just got back from my first visit to NOLA - Meson 923 and GW Fins were superb, but Cochon served the best food I've ever had. Got to try nearly everything on the menu. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
A foodie visit to the French Quarter should always include the "French Quarter Onion Soup" from Pierre Masperos.
This looks so good I just s h i t my pants!
Most tourist areas are safe but in the FQ make sure you don't carry too much money & stay in well lit areas. Use common sense, don't go looking for drugs or get too drunk without a designated walker/driver with you & you'll be fine! Have fun!!!
Camelia Grill on Carrolton.....used to do a cannibal sandwich; probably can't anymore for safety reasons. Ate quite a few while in college and never died from it.
Crawfish Sacks from Pattons! Catch them at jazz fest!
Use to work at major hotels in NOLA. Rarely suggested guests to go to known places (Commander's, Emeril's, etc.). Usually suggested "local" joints where the locals eat. Much better food and much better prices. I suggest: Dooky Chase, Petunia's, Maximo, Franky and Johnny's. Ask the concierge where the locals eat to assure you get the true taste of NOLA. FYI, jambalaya is not like a stew, it is similar to a paella. This reporter does what all non-locals do, eat places that locals don't. You can do better than that CNN.
Might want to read a little better - maybe that's why they wrote next to jambalaya "comparable to a zesty paella, if you will."
The article also said "stew-like dish" IDIOT! The author got it half right.
if the JAMBALAYA he ate was like stew it was nasty ................
i meant paella........... heck or stew ewwww........... jambalaya is just jambalaya
I'm getting hungry just reading this-and I just ate late lunch! ; )
Dick And Jenny's, everything there is fantastic
Frankie and Johnny's, crawfish and po' boys
what about bbq shrimp from pascal's manale??
Please don't forget Dookie Chase's! REAL soul food.
Shrimp and grits from La Petite Grocery, anything at Commander's, beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde, crawfish etouffe at Jacques-Imos, your favorite comfort food from Mother's, and Cafe Amelie for a night out in a beautiful courtyard setting.
Y'all forgot about Tujagues on Decatur, DiMartinos on the West Bank, and the College Inn Pub on Carrollton. ;p
Man, this article and the comments above make me miss home. :( Vive la NOLA!
Red beans and rice is the best. That with some Brother's Fried Chicken and I'm set.
Commander's Palace, Cooter Brown's and Mark Twain's Pizza Landing (though that one is in Metairie). I miss my hometown!
Escargot at Irene's. Top five all time dish!!!
Thats not NOLA food, thats like saying go get a burger or a steak.
Cold. (to settle the muffaletta question once and for all.)
Helz no! Hot and melty – with the olive salad added later.
This article has brought tears to my eyes...my Grandmother would make me Hogs Head Cheese sandwiches all the time... I miss her dearly....:(
Been in search of the best Shrimp Po Boy in the world since growing up in New Orleans. Best in N.O.L.A: Zimmer's Seafood in Gentilly, which is a Fish Market, but get one and head down to the Lakefront to enjoy! Also, R&O in Bucktown has a great Shrimp Po Boy. Agree with Middendorfs for best fried catfish and they also have the best oysters on the half shell. Jacques-Imo's has great fried chicken, but I go there for the Cajun Bouillibaisse.
Living in NO area, but on the West Bank, in 90-91, we soon found our favorite seafood meals at Elmo's on Belle Chase Hwy. Friendly staff, quiet and relaxed atmosphere, and good food. It don't get much better than that. Is there still an Elmo's in business????anyone know??
Poboys = Parkway Bakery
And it is Boudin Noir OR Boudin Rouge in LA depending on the locality and chef when using pigs blood.
just a shameless plug for muriel's and cochon.
I just ate at Cochon on Saturday, and it was the best dinner I've ever had. I'd say the "shameless plug" is well-deserved.
cafee Demond in new orleans has the best sandwiches and po boys. Its a staple of New Orleans
Willie Mae's Scotch house FTW!
Yummy, I will have one of each for lunch please! I was in the Big Easy a few days before Christmas and I think I ate until I was sick and then ate more!
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