Food of N.O., New Orleans
UPDATE: A fire on July 27, 2012 destroyed the Hubig's factory... The owners have stated they plan to rebuild, and I cannot wait until they do - Hubig's pies are one of those things I truly miss about New Orleans, and I am anxious to taste them again. Watch this space!
You will love me for turning you onto these - although your thighs may not... I haven't been able to find them outside of the New Orleans area, and I CRAVE them at times...
Lightly fried pies - my favorites are chocolate and lemon, but I can attest the peach and apple are also quite tasty. Available at all grocery stores, as well as many drug stores (think Walgreen's) and deli's in the New Orleans area - for around $1.
Put them in the microwave for 10 seconds - yummy!
Cook on the sidewalks!
Far from the tourist crowded centre of the French Quarter, take a walk on Burgundy Street, late afternoon, you may meet some “real locals”, taking life easy in front of their houses. You may have the luck to watch (and smell) people cooking on the sidewalks; and of course, they do not cook just steaks or ready-to-use food, but real Cajun food, in this special local barbecue pit (picture 1) which gives this smoky taste to Cajun food.
Cajun food has its special spices and ingredients; this day it was turtle ragout (picture 2) with vegetables and smoked sausages; mmmh!
Yes! you can meet locals in New Orleans (they are not all “fed up” with tourists), and have a chat with these kind people, learn about cuisine and some aspects of local life, have a drink whilst waiting the food gets ready (picture 3). . . . . The chairs (with the beads!) are on the sidewalk, ready for the upcoming yummy dinner! (picture 4)
King cakes are a staple of the Carnival season - delicious round cinnamon-flavored pastry cakes, covered in thick icing and colored sugar sprinkles in purple, green, and gold (the colors of Mardi Gras). They are available from King's Day (January 6) thru Mardi Gras. Inside the cake is a plastic toy, usually a baby. Whomever gets the baby in their piece of cake is supposed to host the next party and/or buy the next king cake.
King cakes can be plain (as described above), or contain a variety of fillings. My favorites are: bavarian cream, pecan caramel, and lemon. And yes - you can order them online!
Poboys are sandwiches made on long French bread loaves (kind of like a baguette, but wider), and are filled with your choice: roast beef and gravy (yummy!), fried shrimp and/or fried oysters, hot ham and cheese, even french fries! They are ubiquitous throughout the city and can be had for cheap. One of my favorite places to get a poboy is Gene's - check out my tip under New Orleans Restaurants.
King Cake is a traditional favorite in New Orleans, especially around Mardi Gras. The cake typically has icing or sprinkles in the three colors of Mardi Gras - Yellow, Purple, and Green. Long ago, King Cake started out as a fun tradition to see who would buy the next cake based on who had the piece with a little plastic baby. Today, you can still find King Cakes with the plastic baby as a decorative addition to the confection.
Not visiting New Orleans anytime soon? No problem - make your own King Cake at home!
When visiting the Southeast Louisiana area, you may be invited to a crawfish boil. If so, definitely go! Crawfish are small, hard-shelled crustaceans which are often served boiled in a large pot with spices, onions, potatoes and corn. If done properly (in my never-to-be-humble opinion), they are spicy enough to make you sweat, but still keep your taste buds working! You eat them very much like shrimp - tear off the heads, break the undershell by the legs, then tear off the shell. I find they taste a little like lobster, but much smaller. The more rugged amongst us will "suck the heads", which is where the spices settle. I find the flavor too intense for my taste, so I just eat the meat!
Generally speaking, New Orleaneans each lunch out. Most neighborhood bars have full menus serving the standards: poboys, red beans, jambalaya and everyone has their favorite place to frequent. There are some who go to the same few eateries consistently. Yes. Even locals eat the stereotypical "tourist" food; after all, this is the place from which it came.
Even though it can be an option to dine outdoors in a few of the places, most locals - especially in the summer months - tend to dine indoors -- particularly if there is no shade available. Lunch is generally light. Well, the lighter of the meals during the course of the day.
The ultimate Creole dish is a tasty metaphor of New Orleans culture: not a melting pot, but a spicy mix of ingredients that complement each other without losing their individual flavors.
Based on the African tradition of soup, gumbo is made with local seafood like our superb Gulf shrimp, crabs and crawfish, or a mix of meat and sausage (usually Cajun Andouille sausage).
Native American filé which is made from the sassafras root (the same one that root beer gets its flavor from) spice thickens and flavors. The stock Okra (from the Bantu nkombo) is an African transplant. Creole tomatoes originated in the West Indies.
There are lots of gumbo variations, along with a lot of other New Orleans dishes, every restaurant and Momma in Louisiana has its own way of doing it. It is served with rice and if you're lucky it will be Louisiana Popcorn Rice, which got its name from the aroma it gives off while cooking.
Stand in line. Only open for lunch M-F. Cash only. Closed in the summer.
In additon to Mamma's pasta (which I had - Olive oil, butter, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and shrimp), Uglesich's specialties are:
SHRIMP UGGIE - Marinated in vegetable oil, crushed red pepper, hot sauce, onion, bell pepper and sauteed. Spicy. Served with new potatoes.
VOODOO SHRIMP - Asian Creole. Olive oil, black bean paste, tomatoes, black olives, oregano and rosemary. Served with pasta.
ITALIANO SHRIMP (also trout or catfish) - Dipped in olive oil, then into a bread crumb and imported cheese mix. Sauteed, with fresh lemon juice squeezed on top.
PAUL'S FANTASY - Pan fried trout, topped with grilled shrimp and new potatoes.
CRABMEAT AND POTATO PATTIE PLATE - Exactly what it sounds like.
BAR-B-QUE OYSTERS - Olive oil, butter, lots of garlic, basil, and parsley. Sauteed. Served with new potatoes.
MUDDY WATER - Pan fried trout, topped with muddy water sauce, chicken broth, garlic, anchovies, gutted jalapenos, and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Not hot or spicy.
VOLCANO SHRIMP - Ginger, soy sauce, black bean paste, and Chinese red pepper. Served with pasta. Hot!
BAR-B-QUE SHRIMP (Photo Shown Above) (Small or Large) - Olive oil, butter, lots of garlic, basil, and parsley. Sauteed. Served with new potatoes.
COMBINATION - Bar-B-Que oysters and Bar-B-Que shrimp plate.
SAM'S FAVORITE - Trout or catfish, sauteed with garlic, olive oil, basil, and Worcestershire sauce. Served with new potatoes.
ANGRY SHRIMP - Sauteed with Chinese chili paste, garlic, three colors of bell peppers. Hot!
STUFFED SHRIMP - Large shrimp, stuffed with crabmeat and deepfried.
ETOUFFEE - Crawfish smothered down with onions, bell pepper, garlic and celery. No roux. Served with rice.
SHRIMP CREOLE - Cooked with every tomato product you can imagine. Served with rice.
CRAWFISH FETTUCCINI - Cooked in half and half with Reggiano parmesan and Pecorino cheeses.
TROUT OR CATFISH ANTHONY - Grilled with butter, seasonings sprinkled on top.
- Jambalaya (jum-buh-lie-ya): another Louisiana specialty consisting of rice, seasoning, and basically leftovers! That's right, mostly sausage, chicken, or seafood. The local joke is that "jambalaya" is French for "clean up the kitchen".
- Le Sazerac: This drink was a favorite of artists years back. A Sazerac is a potent concoction served in a martini glass, coated with pastis and containing rum, lemon juice, sugar and bitters. One sip and you'll think you're Marcel Proust!
- Muffelatta: Only my favorite sandwich in the world (pre-vegetarian days, that is). Obviously of Italian origins, you'll find layers of deli meats anchored by soft, round Italian bread - but what makes it a "piece de resistence" is the delicious olive and roasted pepper tapenade and provolone cheese that you'll find inside this sandwich. Favorite place to order one: Napolean House on Chartres Street in the French Quarter.
- Pimms Cup: Invented by the waiters at the Napolean House (my personal favorite place for its character and charm, including the waiters there), this drink is so refreshing you'll want a 2nd one before you even finish the 1st! There are various recipes for it, but you can either make it with lemonade, Pimms No. 1 (that's the actual alcoholic beverage that gives it a kick, originating from the UK), and 7-UP, topped with a cucumber slice - or you can make it as I do, which is 1/3 Pimms, and almost 2/3 Fresca, over ice, and of course, topped with a cucumber slice. I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it's the bomb!
The following are some of the more common names you'll hear for local cuisine, libations and basic terminology used in reference to either or both, typical to New Orleans or originating in New Orleans:
- Beignet (ben-yai): after the French word for a kind of pillow shaped donut that is topped off with powdered sugar. Goes well with coffee.
- BYOB: New Orleans is one of the few towns if not perhaps the only one, where you can bring your own bottle of wine to a family style restaurant. Many small mom-and-pop places that serve great food but are known and patronized strictly by the locals, encourage their patrons to bring in their own bottles!
- Crawfish: this smell permeates the city, it really does. Crawfish are almost always being boiled somewhere in the city, whether you're Uptown or Downtown. You'll hear the locals tell you to "suck the heads, squeeze the tips" which basically means you bite the head off and squeeze the tail, then eat the middle part.
- Chicory Coffee: What gives New Orleans coffee that extra kick and makes it so delicious (in my opinion, and I'm a coffee connoisseur) is that dash of chicory that you find many local places adding to their brew. Chicory comes from a roasted root. For more info on chicory coffee or to order some, go to: orleanscoffee
- Dressed: this is how you describe (or will hear described) a sandwich that is fully loaded (i.e. mayo, lettuce, tomato - the works)
- Gumbo: this is a southern Louisiana specialty soup, usually made with either chicken or seafood (don't be surprised to see a big crab claw sticking out of your bowl) and thickened with either okra and powdered sassafras, or both.
-Hurricane: a lethal libation that's fruity, red, sweet, and full of rum - but watch out - this one can really sneak up on you and knock you flat on your face. My college record is five Hurricanes in 1.5 hours while STILL standing...My personal favorite place to imbibe one of these is at Pat O's (Pat O'Briens, in the Quarter).
- Po Boy: In other areas of the United States, this sandwich is referred to as a "hoagie" or a "submarine". Basically it's the same idea, except in New Orleans, you'll want to order the "Shrimp Po-Boy" (dressed, of course) or the "Fried Oyster Po-Boy", two of the best examples of this sandwich which you won"t find anywhere else in the world. Promise!
- Praline: Pronounced "prah-leen" by the locals...basically a patty of carmelized sugar studded with roasted pecans. You'll find them everywhere. The best places to get them are in a specialty shop in the French Quarter - don't get those ones that are individually wrapped in plastic, found at the local drugstores!
- To Go Cup: I quickly learned to appreciate this term my first week of college in New Orleans...it's simply a plastic cup that you'll be offered at the door on your way out of whatever bar you're patronizing, so that you can wander the streets legally while continuing to drink yourself into the oblivion you came here for.
The food in New orleans is very good. We had far too much, but luckely we were only here for the day. People who are here longer have to watch out. Before you know it you have to become a member of the weightwatchers, or just don't care.......
Without a doubt, Lucky Dog's are a New Orleans late-night staple. You can find them on every corner of Bourbon St and the surrounding area. They are good, cheap, and, most importantly, right outside of every club. SO, when you stumble out at 3-6 AM, where else are you going to go?
Hero, Sub, Hoagie, Grinder...these words are foreign to the vocabulary of the native New Orleanian. That's because in New Orleans, they eat po-boys (the po-boy is a staple at lunch counters across the metro area). The name 'po-boy' is, of course, a shortened version of 'poor boy.' The name stems from the fact that a po-boy used to be a very inexpensive way to get a very solid meal.
The Bread: What makes a po-boy special is the bread. A po-boy isn't a po-boy unless it's made with good quality, fresh French bread. New Orleans French bread has a crunchy crust with a very light center. The loaves are about 3' in length, and are about 6' in circumference.
The Fillings: Roast beef and shrimp are the most popular fillings for a po-boy, but just about anything can be put inside a loaf of French bread and taste good. Many places do an excellent hamburger or cheeseburger po-boy because they can cook the patties to order (same goes for seafood fillings like oysters and shrimp).
Dressed, or Nuttin' on it: This is one of those questions than can hang up a tourist like a deer caught in the headlights. Do you want it dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, or do you just want nuttin' on it (eating a po-boy either way is proper)?
Remember, a po-boy place isn't McDonald's...you'll get yours made the way you want it if you speak up.