New Orleans is a city with its own culinary tradition and style. Blending European and African cooking flare with local ingredients has spawned food and drink that can only be described as true fusion food. Whether it's Cajun or Creole, French or African, these are the 10 things you need to try when you visit New Orleans:
Gumbo is a dish born in Louisiana. Usually consisting of a shellfish, seasoned vegetables and a thickener (a "roux" is what it's referred to as down in the bayou), the ingredients are blended together and served over rice. The best gumbos in town can be found at Li'l Dizzy's and Herbsaint.
2. Char-Grilled Oysters
Oyster bars can be found all over the city, as oyster farmers are pumping out quality crop year round (though the biggest and tastiest oysters are harvested during the colder months). Some people don't appreciate the raw variety, but the char-grilled oyster (with melted Romano cheese atop) is something everyone can enjoy. Check out Acme and Drago's for these.
Shrimp etouffee — Photo courtesy of jeffreyw
Whether you go for the crawfish or shrimp derivation is of no consequence as they are both delicious. Like gumbo, it consists of seafood with vegetables in a roux/sauce over rice. The roux is more tomato and butter based and often lighter than the roux used with gumbo. It is traditionally an entree as opposed to a soup which gumbo is often presented as.
Made famous by the Bourbon Street hangout Pat O'Brien's, the hurricane is a sweet, rum based drink with a fruity kick. It's easily the most recognizable drink in the city and is perfect to walk around with in a to-go cup while you browse the city streets.
Shrimp, gator, crawfish, roast beef and oyster are just a few of the endless options shoved inside delicious French bread to make New Orleans' most famous sandwich. The city has a festival each year in honor of the po-boy, and nearly every restaurant in town has their own take on it. Some of the best can be found at Mother's.
Andouille is a French pork sausage, heavily seasoned and smoked. It is used in a number of Cajun dishes, such as jambalaya and gumbo, and can also be served over pasta or by itself. This is a meat you won't find too many other places in the States.
The sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans. It's a drink reminiscent of an earlier, old fashioned, even Prohibition type era. It is made with rye whiskey, bitters, a cube of sugar and a splash of absinthe if you're lucky. It's the perfect drink for posting up with at the hotel bar.
8. King Cake
The king cake is a twisted bread adorned with colored icing, usually the Mardi Gras colors since that is when the cake is most often produced and served. Cooked inside this treat is a trinket (usually baby Jesus), and whomever draws the piece including this receives various duties and rewards depending on surrounding company.
Beignets are a French, fluffy doughnut that you should always plan to cover with powdered sugar. Head to Cafe du Monde and grab a plate of three at the outdoor patio while you people watch. Beignets and their powdered sugar topping are ever more scrumptious when pared with...
10. Cafe au Lait
In reality, a beignet should never be ordered without a complimentary cafe au lait, which translates to coffee with milk (scalded milk). The New Orleans style is made with chicory, which gives it some extra bite. It's perfect for starting a morning or capping off a meal.