12 In Destinations/ USA

The Jazz and Cuisine of New Orleans

If jazz music is the soul of New Orleans, than food is the heart and a trip to the Crescent City would not be complete without experiencing the music scene and the food culture that New Orleans is so famous for.
With that in mind, Ty and I threw ourselves wholeheartedly into a food discovery journey of New Orleans. Nothing was more wonderful and fulfilling than sitting in a cafe or restaurant with Ty and two signature dishes, listening to the amazing sounds of a jazz musician or band. Culture, tradition and recipe perfection can be tasted in each and every mouthful, and its no wonder the following dishes are the stuff of New Orleans culinary legend.
An amazingly popular jazz band at the French Market Cafe in the French Quarter, New Orleans
My handsome fiancé in Bourbon St on the search for a great spot for dinner
Inside the gorgeous Desire restaurant we stumbled upon in the French Quarter and the place we began our New Orleans culinary journey!

Excitedly waiting to try the first taste of New Orleans

1. Gumbo. A blend of West European, African, native Indian and Caribbean influences, this steaming hot dish is served simply over white rice. I ordered this at a charming restaurant on the otherwise stinky Bourbon Street in the French Quarter on our first night in New Orleans. While it wasn’t exactly to my taste (or Ty’s), the smoky, strong flavoured dish is a menu staple and is incredibly popular, so was definitely worth giving a go!
My dish – creole gumbo 

2. Fried catfish. Fresh water catfish, deep fried, and served simply with fries and garlic toast – this was Ty’s order on our first night out. It is a menu favourite as we saw it just about everywhere we went, whether it be served plain or on sandwiches with various other accompaniments. It has a fairly strong “fishy” flavour so if you don’t like that taste, it may not be for you, but we thought it was quite enjoyable!
Ty’s dish – fried catfish

3. Jimbayla. A classic dish, similar to a risotto in nature, consisting of rice, sausage, chicken and/or shrimp. I ordered this for lunch on our last day and it was AMAZING! I seriously couldn’t get enough (I embarrassingly scraped the plate completely clean…) and I can’t wait to learn how to make it myself! Ty loved it also so we will be adding this to our recipe repertoire to make when we get home.
My favourite traditional dish!

4. Red beans and rice. Traditionally this was a dish made and eaten every Monday in New Orleans, but can now be found any day of the week on lunch and dinner menus all across the city. Ty ordered this for lunch and we both thought it was delicious. Very simple food, done really well!
The presentation isn’t flash but trust me, the flavour and taste was amazing!
5. Beignets. No food discovery journey is complete without trying the traditional sweet treat or dessert, at least in my book (I’m a MAJOR dessert fan). A beignet is sometimes referred to as a French donut or “fritter”. It is a square piece of soft, yet slightly crispy, deep fried dough that is served with a heavy sprinkling of powdered sugar. These decadent sweets were introduced to Louisiana by the Arcadians (people of French descent, arriving in Louisiana from Canada) and they truly are delicious! We sensibly shared a plate from a cute cafe near New Orleans’s famous city park.
Mmm beignets – so yummy! This picture was taken before we got our hands on the powdered sugar shaker. Things got messy after that! 
There are a few other traditional foods that we didn’t end up trying simply because we couldn’t fit them in (literally!). If you ever have the opportunity to visit New Orleans, be sure to immerse yourself in the rich and authentic culture of food and jazz music! It’s not only a delicious and fun way to explore New Orleans but provides an in-depth reflection of the history and way of life of its people. 
What are some of the amazing (and not so amazing) traditional foods you have tried while travelling?

With love, Carly xo

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