Flavors of Louisiana

I was very excited for the food while on my way to Louisiana. I was visiting my friend Sav, we were roommates while living in Spain. The entire 4.5 months we lived together two of the main things she complained about were the lack of food in Spanish food and missing out on crawfish boils. I also knew you could find some very specific and unique food to the region from my first trip to Louisiana where we had crab cheesecake, frog legs, turtle soup, alligator po’ boys, gumbo, and more. So here’s some of the food I ate during my most recent trip to Louisiana.

  1. Grits: Sav asked me what I normally eat for breakfast so she could stock up. I told her I was pretty flexible, and that I preferred fresh fruit. After arriving, she told me she bought instant grits, and I told her I had tried them for the first time a month before. We both froze and stared at each other, realizing how commonplace grits were for her, but they never even crossed my mind as a breakfast food. Now I keep grits stocked in my pantry. I think they’re a great option especially because I don’t like the texture of oatmeal. My preferred way to eat them is with Sriracha mixed in, with eggs and sautéed spinach.

2. Gumbo: Sav had prepared gumbo with her mom’s recipe for my arrival and we ate it a few times through the week. I’ve had some decent gumbo both in Louisiana and up North, but nothing beats homemade. Fun fact, gumbo is the official state cuisine of Louisiana since 2004.

3. Crawfish, boudin balls, and Strawberry Lager: Top of my list of foods to eat was crawfish. Sav’s family had recently had a crawfish boil, so we went to the next best place for crawfish in Louisiana: Tony’s Seafood. Tony’s is a seafood market, with cooked and raw (even fresh) seafood options. They even have fully prepared plates ready to be purchased. We picked up 6 pounds of crawfish that we easily finished between the two of us, some corn, boudin balls, and Abita Strawberry Lager. Strawberries are the official fruit of Louisiana and we even saw billboards for strawberries. Abita lager uses fresh Louisiana strawberry juice in the beer. I had never had boudin balls before, of course they are delicious. From my research, it looks like they’re sausage and rice rolled into balls before being deep fried.

4. Pizza: For the aftermath of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day we picked up pizza from Fleur de Lis, a pizzeria in Baton Rouge.

5. The Chimes: We stopped for brunch at The Chimes, a bar and grill next to LSU. I had the Benediction for brunch, which was an eggs benedict that was served with cheesy grits and fried crawfish (I don’t actually remember what kind of meat it’s served with, I’m just guessing). We also all shared the blackened alligator and spinach artichoke dip served with fried bowtie pasta.

6. Homemade shrimp pie and etouffee: I was welcomed to my friend’s weekly family dinner, where her mom made us delicious food. Once again I don’t remember what is in the etoufee, either shrimp or crawfish, but it’s another common dish to the region.

7. While in New Orleans French Quarter, you have to hit up Cafe du Monde for some beignets and coffee. It is cash only, so make sure you come prepared. You can either sit down at a table and be served, or stop at their take out window and enjoy eating it elsewhere. I opted for the take out, the line moved incredibly quickly and then I was able to enjoy the beignets in Jackson Square. I don’t like coffee so I can’t give an opinion on it, but I love any variation of a fried dough dessert, and the beignets are delicious.

8. Pralines: This trip I stocked up on Aunt Sally’s Pralines although I do remember during my first trip to New Orleans coming across some pralines that were from an artisan bakery or more “homemade” style. Aunt Sally’s is nice because they’re boxed up so I took them home with me. They also serve multiple flavors, I enjoyed both the original and chocolate flavors.

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