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New Orleans Cuisine

Updated on October 24, 2014

New Orleans Cookbook

New Orleans Cookbook
New Orleans Cookbook | Source

New Orleans Food Is Different

New Orleans food is not like the food anywhere else. It is never bland, and always interesting. Seasoning is a part of every meal. And there are many cultural influences that have merged to create this cuisine. It is, in fact, multi-ethnic.

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Eating in New Orleans

When visiting New Orleans, a city with a rich variety of food indigenous to the area, why would one partake of steak and potatoes? Indeed, why eat what you can have at home? Enjoy the variety available that is unique to the area.

The food in New Orleans is a blend of many cultures. Yes, Anglo-Saxon residents exist, but so do descendents with many other heritages. There are the Cajuns with their own food, the Creole influence, the African influence, and the Sicilian influence. Both France and Spain owned Louisiana in its history, and both had numerous settlers in the New Orleans area. Soon these cultures, each with distinct cuisines, blended into what emerged as a New Orleans cuisine.

There is also an abundance of food not readily available elsewhere. Being positioned where, even before refrigeration, seafood could be obtained using freshly caught ingredients, seafood became important while many other places had little exposure to it.

Since the 1960s there has been a Vietnamese influence, and Vietnamese restaurants are popping up in the area.

Eat what New Orleanians eat. Enjoy the variety.

Expert Link

Tom Fitzmorris is an expert on food. For restaurant recommendations, menus, and receipts see his link.

What Food Should You Seek

Appetizers: New Orleans has its own appetizers. Order cracked crab claws, those from the blue crab native to the area, onion mum, or whatever an onion cut like a flower and fried happens to be called by a restaurant, and stuffed artichoke, an artichoke stuffed with bread crumbs moistened with olive oil.

Soups: Gumbo is the main soup of the region. It may be seafood gumbo or filet gumbo.

True seafood gumbo has only seafood, okra, and seasoning. It often contains a piece of a crab, which must be picked. Seafood gumbo usually contains some crab meat, shrimp, and perhaps chopped oysters.

Not all gumbo contains seafood. It can contain anything. Chicken and sausage are excellent examples of what a gumbo may contain. In fact, there is no limit to the number of meat ingredients that might be found in a gumbo.

Some gumbos blend sausage with seafood. Know what you are ordering before ordering it.

Regardless of the type of gumbo, it is always served over a generous portion of rice.

Another important soup is crab and corn bisque.

Salad: Order a seafood salad, and if possible a shrimp re’moulade. Each restaurant uses a different sauce, and they even differ in color.

Sandwiches: Po-boys are truly a New Orleans tradition. They are served on a piece of bread cut from a po-boy loaf. The bread is what defines the sandwich, and it is not available outside New Orleans. Only a few bakers can produce a po-boy loaf, which is about three feet long with a brown crust. Inside, it is airy, with large holes. The po-boy that is a must is the roast beef, which is served with gravy. It is difficult to stay clean, so wear old clothes for this one.

Muffulettas are Italian sandwiches on a special round bread. They are filled with Genoa salami. Cheese, and perhaps ham. The olive salad is the focal point of this sandwich. These are so large they must be sold in parts. A small version is used a finger food at parties and receptions.

A dressed sandwich usually has lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise added. If the case of a hamburger, onion is also included, and the mayonnaise may have mustard, catsup, or a combination of condiments substituted for it.

Dinner main courses: New Orleans is famous for seafood, fixed almost any way. It can be boiled, broiled, steamed, grilled, or fried. Fish, shrimp, oysters, crayfish, and crab are the main seafood dishes. Dishes that are particularly New Orleans are barbecued shrimp where the shrimp are smothered in liquid butter, blackened fish which is fish with a blackened layer of seasonings, shrimp or crayfish etouffee, shrimp Creole, and oysters on a half shell. Oysters on a half shell are raw, and some people can become ill eating them. More recently seafood sausage has become important..

Red beans and rice should be cooked until the beans are soft, and seasoned to taste. They are often accompanied by sausage, ham, or pork chops.

Jambalaya is a seasoned rice dish with sausage, chicken, or shrimp. The rice is usually orange to brown in color, due to the seasoning.

Desserts: Bananas Foster is a local creation.

Snack: Beignets are rectangular fried pastries that are served with powder sugar.

In New Orleans Italian food is, for the most part, rooted in Sicily. The sauce is red from the tomatoes.


New Orleanians use what is referred to as the cooking trinity, diced onion, celery, and bell pepper. This can be added to many dishes, adding flavor. Bay Leaves and parsley are also freely used. Still another flavor enhancer is garlic. Bland is not normal in New Orleans. And for the really adventurous, jalapeños or cayenne pepper can give the food a little something extra. And olive oil flows freely in New Orleans.

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    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      I'd like to try some of this.

    • rootadesigns lm profile image

      rootadesigns lm 5 years ago

      I love NOLA! I'm from there!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Looks appetising, so long as it's veggie.