Eating My Way Through New Orleans

To me, a native midwesterner, I think of New Orleans cuisine as soul food – a food of the people, a sentiment confirmed by Patrick, the Tulane student who sat next to me on the airplane. I just returned from my first visit to this amazing city and, although I was only there for two short days, was fortunate to experience the local flavors of Creole cooking (apparently different from Cajun).

Throughout my trip, I was determined to try as much local fare as possible. From redfish, crawfish and oysters, to jambalaya and gumbo, to calas and bread pudding, I basically ate my way through the city, with the one exception of cracklins (I had to draw the line somewhere and fried fat seemed like a logical place). I also had my first catfish po’boy which was fabulously deep fried, although I think my favorite new food is crawfish. Also known as crawdads and mud-bugs, these crustaceans were sweet and juicy – like miniature lobsters. Yes, they required quite a bit of work and were messy, but so worth the effort. Now I just have to figure out if and where they can be found in Chicago…

Unfortunately, all this “tasting” came at a price. Although I loved the food, I felt like crap after eating it for two days. My body simply wasn’t used to the fried foods, butter and heavy flavors. Yet, I still wanted more.

But more than the food, I was struck by the loyalty and resolve of the people of New Orleans. I saw so much pride in their determination to rebuild and make the city better than ever before.

I heard the story of the waitress who lost everything in the hurricane and was currently living in Houston, but still commuting four hours to New Orleans every week so she could do her part to help rebuild her city. I spoke with the hotel’s concierge who had been living in New Orleans for 20 years. Although she was tempted to return north after the hurricane to be close to her family, she felt it was her duty to stick it out in New Orleans and give back to the city that had given so much to her over the years. It’s these strong people that will bring me back to New Orleans, so that I can eat more food.

Catfish po'boy

Catfish Po’boy

Calas

Calas

Redfish at Redfish Grill

Redfish at Redfish Grill

Double-Chocolate Bread Pudding at Redfish Grill

 Double-Chocolate Bread Pudding at Redfish Grill

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