New Orleans foods are a mix of Cajun, Creole, Spanish and Italian influences, making it a melting pot of flavor and creativity that everyone needs to try. There’s something for everyone! A mix of sugar, spice, and everything nice awaits your palette if you let it. Luckily, a lot these dishes can be attempted at home, and those that can’t are easily found if you take a trip to the Big Easy.
Any restaurant in Cajun country you visit is going to have a type of Po-Boy on the menu. These are similar to sandwiches but are made with a specific type of french bread. They usually are either fried shrimp, fish or oyster and can be anywhere from 6 inches to a foot long! If you order one of these, make sure you asked for it dressed. In Cajun talk, that means you want everything on it!
Although Italian in origin, these sandwiches were brought to Louisiana by immigrants and are now a staple of New Orleans foods. It was created in a small mom and pop shop called Central Grocery and meant to cater to the small Italian population. Over time these muffulettas have become one of the most famous New Orleans foods, and Central Grocery is still the best place to try one!
Pronounced ME-LE-TAW by Cajuns, this squash, also known as chayote squash is practically the unofficial squash of Louisiana. There are festivals dedicated to it and hundreds of backyards vines for growing in New Orleans. The reason this squash is a must try is the way it is cooked. It is used to stuff shrimp, throw in salads, and most commonly backed into a casserole-type dish for holidays.
4. Bread Pudding
Bread pudding is a common dish throughout the South but Cajuns put a spin on it with bourbon and raisins. While this dish was originally made by the lower class in order to utilize stale bread without wasting, it has become a staple of New Orleans foods and a sought after dessert in many upscale restaurants.
Everyone knows you can’t visit New Orleans without having a beignet. They may look like your typical powdered doughnut to some, but true Cajuns know this is not the case. Beignets are hollow and so much fluffier than a regular doughnut or funnel cake. The most famous place to get these is Cafe Du Monde overlooking Jackson Square in the French Quarter, but you can find them all over the city. If you do happen to wait in the long line downtown, make sure you get a Cafe Au Lait to go with it!
6. Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo
Gumbo is basically the Cajun version of soup. You start with a roux (pronounced roo) and add any meats you desire. Gumbo can be made with shrimp, sausage, chicken, and even okra to give it the dense stew-like texture that is desired. Almost any restaurant you visit will have their version of gumbo. After all, it’s the state dish of Louisiana.
7. Boiled Seafood
There’s nothing quite like a Cajun seafood boil. Whether it’s crawfish, crabs or shrimp, you’re guaranteed to have quite the story after participating in one of these. Not only are they all peel and eat, but you’re also expected to suck the juice out of the heads afterward. It may sound gross, but don’t knock it until you try it. You’ll also find red potatoes, sausage, onion, garlic and many other things thrown in these pots.
8. Doberge Cake
Doberge cake, pronounced DOUGH-BASH in some parts of New Orleans, is the most famous product of Gambino’s Bakery. This cake is created by hand from a secret recipe bought directly from the woman who invented it. Traditionally these are made half lemon and half chocolate and have eight layers of cake and custard. You absolutely need to try this once in your life!
Jambalaya is another word for “everything but the kitchen sink.” Not really, but Cajuns make this dish with just about any meats they find laying around their house. There is a version created with pasta and is called “pastalaya” and it houses the same concept. You can visit New Orleans and try a traditional bowl, or you can stop at your grocery store and pick up a box a Zatarains mix. The best thing about this dish is that no two jambalayas taste the same, so it’s difficult to find a bad one!
10. Red Beans and Rice
Everyone needs a good bowl of red beans and rice in their life, especially because it’s usually paired with cornbread. There are so many ways to make this dish, from scratch to buying a can of Blue Runner and warming them up. This dish definitely has more Creole influences than the latter, but is a staple in New Orleans homes for every ethnicity!
New Orleans foods are world’s different than anything else in the country! What are you excited to try? Comment below!
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