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A Beginner’s Guide to New Orleans Cuisine
Gumbo is one of New Orleans cuisine’s most iconic dishes. In fact, gumbo is so popular throughout Louisiana that it has been designated as the official state cuisine. Gumbo is a thick, rich and spicy stew that most commonly features chicken, sausage, shellfish, or a combination thereof. The stew is thickened with okra, filé powder, and/or a roux mixture and gets its classic Southern Louisiana flavor courtesy of the Creole “holy trinity” (celery, bell peppers and onions).
Typically served over rice, the roots of gumbo are as murky as the stew itself, but it is generally thought to have evolved from some combination of African, French, Spanish, and Native American cooking traditions. This makes it a popular metaphor for New Orleans culture as a whole. No two gumbo recipes are alike – unique personal or family twists are common. As is the case with many Louisiana staples, New Orleans-style gumbo recipes reflect Creole culinary traditions that are unique to the region.
Red Beans and Rice
Red beans and rice is traditionally served on Monday evenings, but this Creole favorite is popular on any day of the week. This classic New Orleans meal is prepared by simmering red beans with meats, spices, and the “holy trinity” for hours on end. Once the pot is bubbling with flavor, the beans are served over rice. Red beans and rice is similar to gumbo in that it lends itself well to communal meals.
Originally thought to have been introduced into New Orleans cuisine by refugees from Haiti, this traditional Monday serving developed because ham was served on Sundays, and Monday was considered washday. To stretch their food further, families used the bones from the ham to flavor the simmering beans while the women of the house were busy washing.
There is no better way to experience the vibrant tastes of New Orleans than with a po-boy! This local favorite is made with a halved loaf of French bread that has been perfectly crisped on the outside and gently baked on the inside. Popular fillings include sausage, roast beef, fried shrimp, oysters, and even some French Fries. This delicious sandwich is elevated further with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayonnaise – optionally spiced up with gravy or hot sauce.
Po-boys are believed to have originated in 1929 during a streetcar strike, when Martin Brothers Restaurant set out to perfect a cheap and delicious sandwich for feeding the striking workers free of charge. While some sandwich-makers enjoy putting creative twists on the po-boy formula, most people stick to the simple, tasty ingredients that have been leaving New Orleanians satisfied for nearly 100 years. So next time you’re in town, consider grabbing a bite of one of New Orleans’ most beloved sandwiches!
Find Great New Orleans Cuisine on Every Corner
With its long-standing reputation as a culinary paradise, New Orleans is an unmissable destination for any food-lover! From traditional dishes like Gumbo and red beans and rice to the iconic Po’ Boy sandwich, there’s something to tantalize the taste buds around every corner. And if you’re looking for more exciting things to do in the Big Easy, consider booking New Orleans bus tours with Cajun Encounters – the perfect way to explore all that the crescent city has to offer.
Featuring knowledgeable local guides that take you on an excursion all from the comfort of air-conditioned buses, these tours are designed to introduce visitors to New Orleans’ culture and history, while providing lots of delicious food recommendations along the way. So if you’re hankering after some genuine Southern hospitality and an opportunity to learn about some of the best local food spots, make sure to book a city bus tour and learn what the Big Easy has in store for you!