Posted by: Waheeda Harris | August 9, 2013

Three essential dishes to eat while in New Orleans

As a regular visitor to New Orleans, I’m lucky to be able to know several people who are great cooks. I know I’m going to eat well.

For those who are first-time visitors, I give you the essential three things you must have to eat while you’re here. There’s an endless amount of food to taste, but these are my favourites:

Red beans and rice:

New Orleans - red beans and rice

Traditionally a Monday dish, red beans and rice became a ritual as the beans were soaked while the women did laundry. This Creole dish is made with minimal ingredients – kidney beans slow cooked with the Southern holy trinity – green peppers, onions, celery – and leftover sausage, ham or bacon. Served over rice with a splash of local hot sauce, this simple dish is a fave of the city and the state.

Gumbo:

New Orleans - gumbo

Another slow-cooked gem, gumbo is a stew, which can be made with many ingredients, depending on the cook – ham, seafood, sausage, chicken, and of course the Southern holy trinity of green pepper, onion and celery. What makes it different is the roux, a mix of flour and butter that is cooked slowly until its dark brown, but not burnt, giving the base a smoky taste. Okra is a popular addition and this Louisiana classic is definitely an interpretation of the French bouillabaise.

Jambalaya:

New Orleans - jambalaya

This hearty dish focuses on slow cooking rice with tomatoes, the trinity, chicken and/or sausage. Celebrating andouille sausage, this dish resembles Spanish paella, and is definitely an interpretation of different Caribbean dishes.

All three of these Creole dishes celebrate local flavours, slow cooking and complex tastes created with minimal ingredients. Its the reason that I encourage all visitors to try these while in New Orleans, as they represent the heart of Louisiana cuisine.

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