Everything about New Orleans oozes sumptuousness – from the humid climate to the architecture, to the hot jazz music and the non-stop parties. Of course, food is no different. Each trademark dish in New Orleans offers a new flavour experience found nowhere else on earth. Here are our picks of five must-try foods any visitor should taste during a trip to New Orleans.
Beignets are the ultimate New Orleans indulgence. Think of a square, hole-free doughnut served piping hot and smothered in icing sugar. The reality is far greater than you can imagine, however. The hot fried yeast dough melts in your mouth along with the soft sugar, making the perfect accompaniment to a café au lait.
The most famous place to get beignets is Café Du Monde. The company’s original location on Decatur Street in the French Market is open 24 hours a day.
There are eight other Café Du Monde locations and several other establishments throughout the city that also make a mean beignet. A final word of advice: don’t breathe while you take a bite, because that sugar goes everywhere. Either way, these things will take your breath away.
Arguably the dish that screams ‘New Awlins’ the loudest is gumbo. Ask around for the best gumbo in town and you’re likely to get varying answers – if not start an all-out brawl over the matter.
Traditionally made with andouille sausage, chicken, and red and green capsicum, gumbo has evolved to include okra, seafood, ham and countless unique additions.
If it has ground sassafras and bay leaves at its base, it’s likely some form of gumbo. You can’t possibly try them all, but give it a try and you’ll find a variety that will spark your Louisiana fire.
If New Orleans had a version of shepherd’s pie, jambalaya would be it. It’s rumoured to have come about when an inn guest asked for dinner long after the kitchen had closed, so the cook threw some random ingredients together for him and jambalaya was born.
Sort of like a gumbo with rice, jambalaya is another hotbed of flavours and also differing opinions. Ingredients can include chicken, andouille sausage, seafood, tomatoes and onion. Some like it hot, so be sure to ask your waiter if you’re sensitive to spicy food.
Deliciously decadent, bananas foster was developed in 1951 by chef Paul Blangé as a way to promote the new fruit at Brennan’s Restaurant.
Named after the chef’s friend and customer Richard Foster, the dessert takes anything healthy about a banana and drowns it in sugar, butter and alcohol. The results are delectable.
The recipe involves melting butter, sugar and cinnamon, stirring in banana liqueur and adding bananas, and then carefully adding rum once the bananas soften. The rum is then set on fire before plating the dish with vanilla ice cream. For obvious reasons, you’ll have to eat this one right away.
If sandwiches are your thing, look no further than the mammoth Creole-Italian concoction known as the muffuletta. Served on an entire loaf of Sicilian bread similar to a focaccia, the sandwich is stacked with salami, ham and provolone cheese. Add to that marinated olives, celery, onion, garlic, olive oil and a plethora of Italian seasoning.
It’s traditionally served cold, but if you ask nicely you can have it toasted. You just might have to unhinge your jaw to take a bite.