For those who don’t get to New Orleans often, the area’s two distinctive cuisines – cajun and creole – are often considered one and the same. But no no. Cajun is country-style food, influenced by the city’s French history. Think one-pot dishes, like crawfish étouffée and jambalaya. Creole is cajun’s city cousin, more refined, with both French and African influences. Shrimp creole, gumbo, and much more.
These dishes may be spicy, they may not. They often make use of local seafood, spices, and roux, and they’re hearty, robust, and rich.
Of course, there are other foods that New Orleans has helped to bring to America’s taste buds. You could enjoy po’ boys, beignets, muffulettas, red beans and rice, bbq shrimp, and just about anything made with andouille sausage and crawfish. And of course, bananas foster, a classic New Orleans dessert created by Brennan’s Restaurant, and creole bread pudding with whiskey sauce.
Certainly, celebrity chefs have helped carry the gospel of New Orleans cooking. Emeril Lagasse has three restaurants in the city, along with his television productions. And people come from near and far to dine at Chef Paul Prudhomme’s restaurant, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen.
There are any number of Web sites that feature appropriate recipes, but if you want to stay authentic, consider The Gumbo Pages, the New Orleans Cuisine Blog, or New Orleans Online. Then…enjoy!
(By the way, may I suggest that you not start reading the above recipes on an empty stomach…)