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The Tourists' New Orleans Food and Drink Glossary


In spite of Katrina, this is my favorite cloudtravel New Orleans page:


Strange Local New Orleans Food and Drink Glossary (alphabetic listing)


A picture named NOLA crab dish.jpg

In keeping with the over-arching theme of the cloudtravel New Orleans restaurant guide, the glossary below is here to protect you from failing to enjoy something really unique about New Orleans because you didn’t know any better.  As you dine in town and review various menus, you will see reference to many of the dishes roughly defined below.   Armed with a description of what you’re getting into, you may have the courage and knowledge to opt for an eating experience that you’ll remember for all of your days.


Beignets - Sweet, doughnut-like squares of dough, deep-fried and covered with powdered sugar, typically enjoyed with New Orleans’ own molasses colored, chicory coffee.  Where to get it  - Café Du Monde.


Café Broulot - A brandy coffee, sometimes served flaming, that is made with cinnamon, clove, lemon and orange.  Optimal in winter, this concoction induces the strangest sensation of energized tipsiness.  Where to get it - Galatoire’s.


Cajun Bloody Mary - This tangy cocktail  (made, of course, from tomato juice, pepper vodka, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish and Cajun spices) is the classic hangover cure.  If you have never had a Bloody Mary or have never enjoyed one, the New Orleans recipe is required testing.  The drink is also prepared without vodka as a “Virgin Mary” (also known as a “Bloody Shame”).  Where to get it - any restaurant serving brunch will have a recipe, but Commander’s Palace adds a crusty ring of cajun spice to the lip of the glass and garnishes it with a green pepper; K-Paul’s also has a good version.


Cajun Martini - This is a large (typically 4 oz.), dry gin or vodka martini with red peppers marinated into the spirit to produce a fiery tang to the taste.  Where to get it - K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen makes an excellent Cajun martini.


Chicory Coffee – This deep, molasses colored coffee is usually served with scalded milk, “au lait.”  The chicory additive (a ground and roasted root) was once intended to stretch out limited coffee stores, but it is now an acquired taste all over town. Where to get it – you’ll get it without specifically ordering it almost anywhere in town where coffee is served (it is the standard brew and you won’t have to ask for it special), but the quintessential roast is at Café du Monde).


Crawfish/crawfish etouffee/crawfish boil - This tiny, lobster-like freshwater crustacean is a seasonal staple of many local dishes, including the popular crawfish etouffee, which is crawfish stew in rich, roux-based gravy that is served over rice.  A popular social pastime is the crawfish boil where the shellfish are boiled in spices and then eaten with the fingers, tails stripped of their shells like shrimp and the heads sucked for the flavor. (A helpful hint at the crawfish boil is to only eat the crawfish with tails curled under - not straight - which signifies that the critter was alive when it hit the boiling water, and thus fresh.)  Where to get it - literally any good restaurant during the December-July season (good restaurants will not serve crawfish out of season, while lesser restaurants will serve them from the freezer – a lot of processed tail meat is imported from China year round).


Gumbo - Named after an African word for “okra,” and spiced with a variety of sassafras, Gumbo is readily available all over the city.  In its classic form, it is a brown roux over rice flavored with andouille sausage, crab and sometimes chicken.  Where to get it - Galatoire’s, Commander’s Palace and many, many others.


Jambalaya or “dirty rice” - Paella-like rice dish cooked with pieces of meat and sausage and spicy seasoning.  Where to get it - literally any good restaurant in town will feature some version of jambalaya in the menu.


Meuniere - Fish or crab dishes dusted in spiced flour and sautéed in brown butter, lemon and Worcestershire sauce.  Where to get it - try the soft shell crabs meuniere at Galatoire’s.


Oysters en Brochette - A flavorful appetizer of gulf oysters wrapped in country bacon, then coated and deep-fried to a crispy finish.  Where to get it - Galatoire’s offers a version second to none which was purportedly expropriated by other restaurants.


Paneed dishes - Rabbit or veal breaded and fried in that special, un-southern, light-handed manner of New Orleans.  Where to get it - Brigtsen’s does the technique proud.


Pimms Cup - A mild-tasting summertime drink made with Pimms, sometimes described as a cross between a vodka collins and a mint julep.  Where to get it - Napoleon House Bar specializes, but any upscale local bar worth its salt will have a recipe.


Po-Boy – This is a New Orleans baguette split lengthwise and filled with classic ingredients like deep fried oysters or shrimp, or “debris” of roast beef from the pan drippings.  Sandwiches are commonly served “dressed” with lettuce, tomato and assorted condiments.  Where to get it - Domilese’s is the hard-to-reach New Orleans po-boy king.


Sazerac - A true New Orleans original, this aromatic, rye whisky cocktail is made with bloody red Peychaud’s drink bitters, plus a local liqueur d’anis called “Herbsaint” and is served straight up with a lemon twist.  The Herbsaint is a legal substitute for an original, now-outlawed ingredient – absinthe.  Good bartenders merely coat the glass with Herbsaint, lest you get more than the desired backround hint of licorice flavor.  Some bartenders mix Peychaud’s bitters with the more widely available Angastura.  Where to get it - widely available, the Napoleon House Bar and the bar at Tujague’s restaurant both have excellent recipes, but ground zero for the classic sazerac is the Sazerac Bar in the Fairmont Hotel. 


Shrimp Remoulade – Boiled, chilled gulf shrimp covered with a signature, cold, brick-red cocktail sauce made from an oil base and a combination of spices, hot mustard and cayenne pepper.   Along with turtle soup, this is an appetizer of choice at many of the finest restaurants. Where to get it - a staple at any of the best restaurants including Galatoire’s, Commander’s Palace and Arnaud’s (where it is called “Shrimp Arnaud”).


Soufflé potatoes - A side dish not to be missed, this is a light, hollow, deep fried potato, skillfully fried twice to create the unique puff.  Where to get it - Galatoire’s.


Softshell Crabs - Deprived of their hard carapace after molting, these seasonal gulf crabs are 100% edible, from point to point.  The season runs from the first full moon in May until autumn.  A delicacy often served deep-fried with meuniere sauce.  Where to get it - in season only, Galatoire’s is a standard for excellent soft shell crab.  Uptown restaurants Clancy’s and Gautreau’s have great recipes that are light and non-greasy, almost like a good tempura.


Tasso - An Acadian sausage made with lean ham and powerful spices.


Turtle Soup – This is an astonishingly flavorful deep brown, roux-based soup made of snapper turtle, sherry, hard-boiled egg and often garnished with a lemon wheel.  The recipe is a spicier, more robust cousin of the snapper soup available in Philadelphia.  Along with shrimp remoulade this is the appetizer of choice at many of the finest restaurants and is not to be missed, although the name can be off putting to some. Where to get it - a staple at any of the finest restaurants including Galatoire’s and Commander’s Palace.


Zapp’s Original Cajun Kettle Recipe potato chips - These local favorites made by Anne and Ron Zappe out in Gramercy Louisiana come in a variety of flavors, the most distinctive being the spicy cajun “crawtators.”  Order can be had by calling 1-800-HOT-CHIP.

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Thanks.  Happy trails.


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Last update: 9/5/2006; 8:33:28 PM.