New Orleans residents, and the millions of people who pour into the city each year for Mardi Gras, Saints games and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (a.k.a. "Jazz Fest") know that the city is fueled by a fierce passion for life, art, music and perhaps most of all - its food. In the face of almost unimaginable tragedy, the city's signature cuisine sustained the bodies, spirits and souls of its people and inspired them to fight ever-mounting odds to keep the culture they love alive for future generations.
Eatocracy gathered together some of Louisiana most vibrant, vocal and knowledgeable residents, fed them a multi-course meal crafted by celebrated chef John Besh, and asked them what they think makes New Orleans cuisine such a vital part of the culture.
And when people like CNN's James Carville and Mary Matalin, chef and civil rights activist Leah Chase, Mad Men star Bryan Batt, food scholar Poppy Tooker, Treme writer Lolis Eric Elie, CNN Hero Derick Tabb and fisherman Lance Nacio sit together at a table, they're going to talk with their mouths and their hearts full.
Watch the video and share your fondest New Orleans memories and your favorite restaurant tips in the comments below.
5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
We're in the camp of thought that you should be drinking the sparkling stuff all year long, not just on New Year's. Lucky for us, Gary Vaynerchuk, the host of Wine Library TV, New York Times best-selling author and overall wine guru, gives his bubbly blessing.
Five "Under The Radar" Sparkling Wines: Gary Vaynerchuk
You can't out-cook a ghost.
Goodness knows I have tried. I've spent hours, days, weeks, months in pursuit of the perfect biscuits, hauling ingredients from my husband's native North Carolina to our Brooklyn apartment, putting my lard-smeared hands on every text I could find and cornering octogenarian in-laws at holiday dinners. Moreover, I have rolled, beaten, patted and whispered to endless dough batches, made my own butter and buttermilk (the mention of that effort earned me a high-pitched "Sh*t, girl!” from none other than Paula Deen, and I will never get tired of telling people that), gone ice-less so as to accommodate more flour varieties in the freezer and I swear unto the heavens, I never, ever twist the biscuit cutter.
Still, I come giddily bearing the star of each batch, butter-slathered and piping hot, and study my husband's face as he takes the first bite. He's appreciative and unfailingly complimentary - a Southern gentleman, after all - but deep down, I know it's never going to measure up to the ones his long-departed Memama and her housekeeper Nettie rolled out on a linen pillowcase and served to him as a child. I've learned to be okay with that.
Grandmothers are canonized in Southern cooking, and while it's taken as read that your own cooking, with rare exception, will pale in comparison, willful deviation...doesn't go over so well.
No food Web site would be complete without the requisite list of the best food-related songs ("Cheeseburgers in Paradise!" "Strawberry Fields Forever!") or top food-related movies ("Tampopo!" "Chocolat!") - but here at Eatocracy, we decided to beat that beat a little further.
By trade, Justin Warner is a captain at The Modern - Danny Meyer’s fine dining restaurant in New York City that holds three stars from the New York Times and one star from the Michelin Guide.
By craft, Warner drops oenophile-themed hip-hop to the food industry masses under his pseudonym, Jdollasign. He's known to spit "Châteauneuf-du-Pape" to the tune of Snoop Dogg's "Drop it Like It's Hot," and engage in epic "Grapes of Rap" battles at food and wine festivals - and now, he's live in studio to share his favorite rhymes with some serious flavor.
Five Gastro-Rap Anthems: Justin Warner
Got a favorite rhyme that bites back? Share your favorite gastro-rap anthems in the comments.
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