Much like everywhere else in the world, people here think they have a monopoly on excellent food. Honestly, with the exception of East Africa and Iceland, everywhere we’ve been has had a long, long list of must-try foods. Here it’s creole, a cuisine I know pretty much nothing about. I know there’s Caribbean and French influences and that many of the dishes grew out of poverty and necessity and there’s a lot of seafood to be had. But I couldn’t tell a jambalaya from gumbo a few days ago.
I’ve got a few friends who’ve been before and have given us recommendations. So far we’ve had:
1. Po’boys. We looked up where was good and headed to Johnny’s Po’boys in the French Quarter. I’ve been interested in trying these since I saw them on ‘Man versus Food’ and the Anthony Bourdain New Orleans special. A Po’boy is simply a white bread roll stuffed with a variety of fillings but they’re usually very messy. I got the roast beef ‘dressed’ – ie salad and mayo. Luke got the chicken parma. Both were enormous and reminded me that it is almost always better to order one serve and share than two and end up feeling over full. Deep fried battered shrimp is probably the most traditional filling. I wish I’d taken a photo… my roll was dripping with gravy and the meat was super tender. Some places grade their po’boys by how many napkins you need to use while eating them. Some threaten to need a napkin per bite!
2. Jambalaya and red beans and rice. On our second evening we stopped at a few jazz clubs and one served cheap, small plates of these two traditional favourites. I had the jambalaya, which is like a risotto with a tomato base and spicy sausage. Just at the right level of spiciness for my mild palate. Luke liked the red beans and rice which was pretty similar in appearance and also a bit spicy. Very easy to eat and perfect food to go with drinking.
3. Beignets. This afternoon on our walk home we stopped in at the famous Cafe Du Monde for these pastry treats. Deep fried squares of pastry covered with a mountain of icing sugar. I almost pretended to sneeze on Luke when he took his last bite… that would teach him for wearing lots of black.
The beignets were delicious but the cafe itself was nothing special. Lots of tiny tables crammed in together – but a good spot for people watching. Just don’t accidentally sit down on an icing-sugared chair.
4. Burritos! Mexican food has always appealed to me but I know that in Australia we don’t get the real deal. We ate a place called Juan’s Flying Burrito on Magazine St for brunch today and it was fantastic. Not completely Mexican, it had creole influences and I had pulled pork with a pineapple salsa. It was amazing. Highly recommend it for anyone reading this and planning on visiting NO.
That’s it for our eating adventures so far. Apologies for the lack/quality of photos. We’ve been leaving every meal so late that by the time we’re ready to eat we’re too hungry to wait. More soon!