If you’ve ever been to Hometown Buffet or diners that specialize in American cuisine, you’d see that a lot of what’s on the menu are inspired by New Orleans food. There’s a good reason for that since food in the Big Easy are just very different thanks to the mix of Cajun, West African, French and Native American cultures prevalent there. And if you have no idea what they’re like, here’s a sampling.
Beignets are small fried dough known locally as French Donuts, but they’re actually more like a funnel cake. These are typically set in café au lait and served straight from the fryer with powder sugar toppings.
Once considered as a poor man’s meal, the crawfish is now a delicacy in New Orleans and other states, and they are served in numerous ways including crawfish étouffée (rice with spicy stew), boiled crawfish and crawfish pie. If you order pure crawfish you’ll have a choice of the 3 lb and 5 lb. Whichever you order it will be served with plenty of mushrooms, smoked sausages, onions, corn, potato chunks and an assortment of spices.
The gumbo is the perfect stew for keeping you warm as the winter season comes in, but rest assured gumbo is great regardless of the time of year. There are several gumbo varieties, with the most popular being duck or chicken and Andouille, seafood paired with okra, smoked sausage and a few dozen other combinations and concoctions. While gumbo is prepared in many ways, tomatoes are almost always included in the ingredients, and it is always served with egg potato salad and rice.
A Po-Boy is a hoagie, grinder or sub, and je ne sais quoi is definitely one of the essential ingredients. But no matter what kind of Po-boy you order it will be served to you on French bread topped with something tasty like cold cuts, hot roast beef or fried seafood. You can also have the Po-Boy dressed up with mayonnaise, lettuce, pickles and tomatoes for extra flavor.
Muffuletta is a sandwich, but of a different kind and heavily influenced by Italian cuisine. Large and hefty, the sandwich is served with generous amounts of Swiss cheese, provolone, salami, mortadella and capicola, with some slight changes depending on where you eat. The bread itself is topped by sesame and there’s olive salad too, an Italian salad with green and black olives mixed with olive oil. If you love the taste of olives, pickles and cured meats, you will definitely enjoy the Muffuletta regardless of the variant you come across.
There’s a reason why New Orleans food is considered exotic, and if you grab a bite you’ll realize why. So the next time you go to Ted’s Montana Grill or another restaurant that specializes in Cajun food, sample some of what New Orleans has to offer, and you won’t be sorry.