As some of you know, my friend Natascha lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I went there to visit her and we took a trip to New Orleans. I was reminded of how much I loved it. And why Lil Wayne loves it too. What I love about New Orleans is that you can go anywhere and have a great meal. The food is always delicious. And I also love that there is so  much history. New Orleans, a port city, was a true melting pot — of Spanish, Italian, African and French cultures. Its roots, and the food, is all mixed up. It is very inspired, and uniquely New Orleans. There are so many great chefs from New Orleans: Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, John Besh…Here are a few of the New Orleans classic dishes and some recipes.

Jambalaya (description from New Orleans Online)

History: The Dictionary of American Food and Drink states that the dish was born late one night when a traveler arrived at a New Orleans Inn long after dinner had been served. According to the story, the inn’s cook, a man named Jean, was told to “balayez,” or “throw something together” to feed the man. The results were delicious and the name later evolved to “Jambalaya.”

Recipe Roundup:

Gumbo (description from New Orleans Online)

History: Gumbo has come to be one of the best examples of the multicultural melting pot that has made New Orleans what it is. It can be described as a type of stew served over rice, but locals would argue that gumbo is almost its own food group. The base seasonings – sassafras and bay leaves – were introduced to settlers by Native Americans. Another important contribution to the creation of gumbo was okra, a vegetable brought over by West African slaves, which both seasons and thickens soup stocks. Gumbo is said to have gotten its name from the West African name for okra – kimgombo.

Recipe Roundup:

Crawfish Etouffee (description from New Orleans Online)

History: The word étouffée (pronounced eh-too-fey) comes from the French word “to smother.” The best way to describe the dish is a thicker stew, seasoned to perfection and chock full of delicious, plump crawfish (or shrimp, depending on the season). In some ways, its similar to gumbo – same types of Creole seasonings, served over rice, and made with a roux, but unlike gumbo, étouffée is made with a “blonde” roux, giving it a lighter color and a very different flavor.

Recipe Roundup:

Beignets (descriptions from New Orleans Online)

History: The French-Creole colonists who came to inhabit the city in its earliest days originally introduced beignets to New Orleans in the 18th century. The concept of the dessert is simple – dough is fried then covered with mounds of powdered sugar – but the result is extraordinary. As a precursor to today’s doughnuts, beignets are made from square-cut pieces of yeast dough and do not have a hole in them like most doughnuts. When served hot, they are absolute perfection, especially when accompanied with café au lait or chocolate milk. The most famous place to get  a plate of beignets is the iconic Café Du Monde, located on Jackson Square.

Recipe Roundup:


~ Dana