You thought that leaving Louisiana would be a good idea to avoid the humidity and the heat and to see what else is going in the world. Within a week of moving to a different state, however, you realized that you might starve to death.
There are only a few (if any) restaurants that serve the types of foods you’ve eaten your entire life. You can’t make groceries (yes, make groceries) because the shelves of the grocery store are missing items that are essential to your pantry. And no one knows what a roux is! It’s a bigger culture shock than what you were expecting.
I moved from the Jambalaya Capital of the World to Georgia a year and a half ago, and I still can’t get over how different things are over here, even in a relatively close southern state. I am fortunate enough to have found some other Louisiana natives in the Peach State and though we do cook up some good food, we also talk at length about the foods we wish we had from back home.
While we’re all patiently awaiting the next time we can visit the Boot State and gain approximately 10 pounds, let’s appreciate the unique culture of Louisiana and all of the food that we took for granted.
Gumbo is the best soup ever invented, and it’s so good that it was made the official state cuisine of Louisiana in 2004. Finding good gumbo made by a non-native in a different state is extremely difficult, and we often leave disappointed after tasting someone else’s attempt. Time to start working on that gumbo recipe, y’all.
2. Andouille Sausage
Every Louisianan knows that not all sausage is created equal. We are very particular about the types of sausage we use because the sausage makes the dish.
When we can’t find good Andouille or hot sausage, it’s not uncommon for us to lament at length about our lack of good sausage options.
It’s probably one of the only dishes that you’ll see commonly made in a giant cast iron pot reminiscent of a witch’s cauldron. And if you could, you would buy a jambalaya plate from somebody’s fundraiser right now.
Translated into English, this dish’s name literally means “smothered.” It is best described as a stew containing seafood (commonly shrimp or crawfish) and smothered with “the holy trinity” in a roux served over rice. Eating this dish is an experience.
Originally coming from the name “poor boys,” this is a simple yet tasty sandwich on toasted French bread. You can order it fully dressed (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and condiments), or keep it simple with your meat of choice and some Tabasco hot sauce. My personal favorite is a fried shrimp po’boy.
This Italian sandwich from New Orleans is bigger than your head and is made with layers of deli-style meats and cheeses and a special olive salad. We might not be able to agree on how to spell or pronounce it, but we can agree that it’s an amazing sandwich.
A warm, fried, melt-in-your-mouth French doughnut with ample amounts of powdered sugar on top. What’s not to love? And although millions of tourists flock to Café du Monde every year for their famed beignets, Louisiana natives know the local cafes that deliver the same taste (with a much shorter line).
8. King Cake
Everyone is always happy to see king cake because the appearance of king cake marks the beginning of Mardi Gras season. Alternatively, not seeing king cake is a bitter reminder that most other states don’t celebrate Mardi Gras, and yes, you do have to go to work or school on that Tuesday.
Just sent out a taste of one of our upcoming menu items. Boudin Balls….COMING SOON @GENESBARGRILL! #KoutureKuisine #KoutureKuisineCreation #GenesBarAndGrill #HeadChef #WhitePlateChronicles #Appetizer #NewMenuItemAlert #BoudinBalls #CajunCooking #GoodEats #Food #FoodPorn #Eat #EatInColor #ChefLife #CatererLife #ChefRae #HoustonChef #HoustonCaterer #DoingWhatILove #Houston #Texas #BookWithMe #Follow #Repost #TagAFriend
Boudin is a unique type of sausage found in the area of South Louisiana, particularly in the Acadian region. It’s a seasoned sausage that has pork and rice in it, and it can be incorporated into a variety of great dishes, including boudin balls. It doesn’t even bother us that it contains pig liver.
10. Seafood Platters
The seafood platters at our Louisiana restaurants put places like Joe’s Crab Shack and Red Lobster to shame. Nothing beats going to a restaurant and receiving a plate of well-seasoned fried and/or boiled catfish, shrimp, crawfish, crab, and frog legs (on occasion).
Even the sides are great accompaniments, with restaurants offering hushpuppies, boiled potatoes or corn, or Cajun fries (Olive Garden can keep its breadsticks).
11. Bananas Foster
A dessert made with bananas, rum, and ice cream? Sign me up! Paul Blangé had the right idea when he created this dish at Brennan’s restaurant in 1951.
King Crawfish. Known as crayfish, crawdads, or mudbugs, crawfish is a versatile crustacean that can go into any dish. You can put it in etouffeé, creole, gumbo, mac and cheese, potatoes, fish, crab cakes — the sky’s the limit.
It baffles us that people in other parts of the world find it a nuisance or use it as bait, and it saddens us that we can’t find any during crawfish season.
And don’t get me started on boiled crawfish…
13. Boiled Seafood
Too late. Imagine boiled and seasoned crawfish, crabs, shrimp, sausage, corn, and potatoes that you can eat until your stomach hurts. Beautiful, isn’t it?
It’s common to have a seafood boil during spring or summer events like graduation, family gatherings, and national holidays. You know you’re going to have a good time when someone busts out old newspapers, cardboard boxes, and a roll of industrial paper towels.
14. Shrimp Creole
This dish involves cooked shrimp, the holy trinity, and a spiced tomato sauce over rice. It’s got a nice tangy flavor, and it’s light enough that you can go back for seconds. And trust me, you’ll want to.
Louisiana is one of the two states where you may regularly see alligator on the menu. Two popular ways to eat alligator are blackened with a remoulade sauce or fried in a po’boy. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Pralines are a decadent candy made up of mostly caramelized sugar and pecans. Pralines seem deceptively easy to make, but one false move turns everything into sugar, effectively ruining your candy.
If you’re in New Orleans, you can find many praline makers including Aunt Sally’s or the Magnolia Praline Company. Pro tip: It’s pronounced “praw-leen.”
17. Meat Pies
People may not know much about North Louisiana, but you should know that they have excellent meat pies. Similar to empanadas, these meat pies are made of highly seasoned beef and pork, onions, and garlic. They’re so good that they also make the list of official state foods.
In a place where it often gets to 100% humidity and temperatures in the lower 100s during the summer, we need something to stay cool. Snoballs are a perfect blend of shaved ice, syrup, and interesting additions (including candy and condensed milk), and many Louisiana natives know exactly where to go to get their fix.
It just doesn’t feel like summer without one.
19. Drive-thru Daiquiri Shops
Yes, this is a real thing. Nothing says Louisiana like making a quick stop by the daiquiri place after a tough day of classes or work and ordering a drink to go.
Of course there are ID checks at the window and open container laws, so we wait until we’re out of the car to start partying.
20. Hurricanes and Hurricane Parties
Speaking of parties, we can make anything into a party, including a hurricane. Our drink of choice at these hurricane parties is a Hurricane, a stylish drink made with fruit juices, grenadine syrup and rum (we are quite fond of rum).
We might not miss the storms, but we surely miss this drink.
We have to keep reminding ourselves that it’s not legal in other places to walk around the streets with alcohol, enter a bar with a drink in your hand, or leave a bar to finish your drink. The struggle is real, y’all.
22. Abita Beer
It gives us some comfort that we can find Abita’s Purple Haze in most bars, but the rest of you are missing out on brews like the Andygator, Turbodog, and of course, the Strawberry Harvest Lager made with real Louisiana strawberries.
23. Red Beans and Rice
We eat beans and rice on Monday. Or really, any day of the week.
24. Pre-made Roux
A roux is a quintessential component to most Louisiana dishes, and yet it can be difficult to make a proper roux that is the right color or isn’t burnt. To make life a bit easier, some local companies sell jars of roux or instant roux mix so we don’t have to try five times to get it just right.
Until the rest of the country discovers the magic that is roux, we’ll have to make do and keep on stirring.
25. Zapp’s Potato Chips
These classic kettle style chips from New Orleans make the perfect side to a po’boy and are like no other. Where else are you going to find chips with flavors like Spicy Cajun Crawtator, Cajun Dill Gator-Tators, and Voodoo? Exactly.
26. Food Festivals
We love festivals — especially ones that we can make all about food. Louisiana has numerous festivals dedicated to food including the Strawberry Festival, Catfish Festival, Jambalaya Festival, Crawfish Festival, and more. In addition to all of the games, rides, and musical performances, we chow down on some good food.
27. Cane Syrup
Cane syrup has been called “a basic flavor of south Louisiana.” This old-fashioned syrup brings a certain sweetness that you can’t find anywhere else. Put some of Steen’s syrup on your biscuits, pancakes, or desserts, and prepare yourself for a sugar rush.
All food tastes better with some Tabasco sauce or a dash of our favorite Cajun or Creole spice blend. It’s not uncommon for someone from Louisiana to go through several containers of seasoning in a year, or for us to carry a mini bottle of Tabasco sauce with us for emergencies, y’know?
Not everyone knows how to season a dish like we do, but we don’t hold that against them.