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New Orleans


Kick Back in the Big Easy

A Holy Trinity

Over 300 years old, this city is a treasure-trove of history. Before Louisiana officially joined the United States, New Orleans was a hub of immigrants from Italy, Spain, and, most notably, France. This melting pot of nationalities played a hand in the creation of three different distinct and iconic styles of cuisine– Cajun, Creole, and Soul food– each a proud pilar of New Orleans’ culture. In a city known for Jazz and the vivacious party scene of Mardi Gras, it’s a given that flavor follows visitors and residents everywhere.


A Rich History & Richer Food

Head to this southern city, and you’ll immediately take note of the dynamic styles of cooking in the region. Creole is a unique fusion of French, Spanish, West African, Italian, and Native American cuisine. Creole cooking typically makes liberal use of shellfish, pork, game, onions, okra, and “the holy trinity” (bell peppers, celery, tomatoes), and features complex preparation techniques and often, a rich sauce base. Cajun food, on the other hand, tends to also be filling and rich, but much easier to prepare. Inspired by the Acadians, a group of French-Canadian colonists, this food is not always spicy, despite its reputation. Instead garlic, hot peppers, and file powder (an essential flavor and thickening agent for Gumbo) are utilized generously, exhibiting a punch of flavor rather than consistent heat. While Cajun and Creole cuisine share a few traits and may seem similar, there is one sure-fire way to distinguish between the two– Creole cuisine incorporates tomatoes into their sauces and bases, while Cajun food does not. Soul food, created by the African-American descendants of slaves, has become nearly synonymous with the southern United States. With origins tracing back to West Africa, this cuisine boasts hearty, intense flavor with reasonably priced ingredients and spices.

New Orleans has mostly kept with tradition in regards of food preparation. Many popular dishes are deep fried in a thick breading. Some seafood is boiled, leading to crawfish boils, as much a social event as it is a feast. Most popular, however, is New Orleans’ soups and brews, all of which are started with a “roux”. This essential mixture of flour and oil acts as a base for such recipes, stirred constantly until it turns golden brown. Only then can a chef build upon their recipe.

One of the most notorious of stews in this region is Gumbo. Traditionally prepared with a flavorful stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, celery, bell pepper, and onions, this delicious stew features many variations in flavor and ingredients. Another notorious dish is Jambalaya, a rice-based dish invented by the Spanish immigrants in the early 1800s when they tried to recreate paella. When there was no saffron to be found, they turned instead to tomatoes and a hefty amount of Caribbean spices to add flavor to the dish, complimenting the medley of sausage, chicken, and shrimp in the dish. For dessert, try beignets– a deep-fried, sweet pastry served with a heaping supply of powdered sugar.

Steeped In Tradition 

One thing is for certain about the historical city of New Orleans– the people are as strong and exciting as the flavors they produce in their cooking. This melting pot community has utilized their resources, from the Mississippi river to the Gulf of Mexico, to create a versatile and eclectic form of cooking that accurately reflects their citizens.

With a high catholic population, it’s no wonder that ritual follows you on every turn in New Orleans. Fridays are designated for seafood consumption, and many households will eat red beans and rice specifically on Mondays. Fun fact– Sunday brunch actually began in New Orleans, offering church goers a stable meal of boiled crawfish, omelets, and more after mass.
There are many delicious restaurants in New Orleans. However, if you really want a taste of this city, go straight to the source– homes. Most talented chefs in this city (and state) have learned the tricks of the trade from their parents, who learned it from their parents, and so on. You can travel the entire state of Louisiana, and still not find a single pot of Gumbo like another. That’s what makes New Orleans so special!

Countries in Region French Quarter, The Garden District, Downtown, Uptown/Carrollton, Mid-City, Ninth Ward, Esplanade Ridge, Tremé, Arts/Warehouse District, Algiers, Marigny/Bywater, Lakeview, Gentilly, New Orleans East
Population 391,249
Regional Flavor Profiles Herbal, Hot, Fresh, Rich
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