A GUIDE TO THE BEST UNIQUE FOODS TO TRY IN NEW ORLEANS: POPULAR DISHES WITH A SOUTHERN TWIST AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
In New Orleans, history is told through food, culture, and tradition. It is no wonder that many of New Orleans’s signature dishes originate from European, African, Caribbean, Hispanic, and Asian cuisine. Even though New Orleans puts a spicy spin on any plate that passes through, the city always celebrates and cherishes each culture’s contribution to what makes the “The Melting Pot” so flavorful today. Unique adaptations of New Orleans’s top original dishes can be found in almost every corner of the city.
Creole Snapping Turtle Soup
Turtle Soup made its way to New Orleans from England in the 1700s with clear broth and a bouillon base. It wasn’t long until the French, Spanish, and Native people of New Orleans added their own touches to the recipe to create what is now known as Creole Turtle Soup. Due to a ban on Terrapin turtle hunting, Louisiana chefs had to get creative. Restaurant R’evolution’s founding chef, John Folse, incorporates farmed snapping turtles and a dark cajun roux in his recipe. Various renditions of the traditional recipe can also be found at Brennans, Galatoires, Mandinas, and Commander’s Palace.
Oysters have been a staple in New Orleans cuisine from the start, thanks to Native Americans and diverse groups of immigrants living in the city. Although oysters were notoriously eaten raw, one famed New Orleans restaurant claims to be the birthplace of just the opposite: charbroiled oysters. Placed on the grill with loads of butter, garlic, and spices, then topped with parmesan and romano cheese, the charbroiled oysters from Dragos are now a nationwide favorite. The salty gulf south treats prove that the world is the oyster and New Orleans cuisine is the pearl.
Contrary to popular belief, the sweet, sugar-coated praline originated in France, not Louisiana, as sugared almonds named after French diplomat Comte du Plessis-Praslin. Upon arrival in the 1700s, the French realized that almonds weren’t readily available in the region and turned to chewy, rich pecans as a substitute. Naturally, New Orleanians couldn’t resist incorporating butter and brown sugar into the recipe, meticulously crafting what we now know as the praline. Although many local shops claim to have the best recipe, Aunt Sally’s is iconic and has one of the oldest praline recipes.
New Orleans Muffuletta
Made of Italian cured meat, cheese, and topped with olive salad, the Muffuletta sandwich is a New Orleans original recipe created with ingredients favored by the Sicilian immigrants of the time. In 1906, Lupo Salvadore, owner of Central Grocery, observed fellow Sicilians struggling to fit all their favorite sandwich ingredients between two pieces of bread. Salvadore started selling ham, salami, and provolone on a sesame loaf as big as one’s head and called it the Muffuletta. Central Grocery is still operating in the French Quarter as New Orleans’ favorite spot to try the original version of the iconic Italian-inspired Muffuletta.
Yakamein “Old Sober”
The history of Yakamein is largely unknown and often theorized. Still, it has been a staple in African American homes in New Orleans for as long as anyone can remember. The famed Asian-inspired beef noodle soup was brought back to life by one New Orleanian now known as the Yakamein Lady, Ms. Linda Green. She combines Japanese ramen and cajun beef stew elements in this hybrid cultural recipe. Also known as Ol’ Sober, the soup is notorious for curing hangovers thanks to its rich meaty constituents topped with a salty boiled egg. At the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, you can grab a steaming hot bowl of Ms. Green’s original Yakamein soup annually. Alternatively, different adaptations of the soup can be found at restaurants across the city.
Stay at Maison Dupuy Hotel
One of the best ways to experience the cuisine of New Orleans is by staying at a hotel in the middle of it all. The Maison Dupuy Hotel is ideally situated in the heart of the French Quarter. Make a reservation at Maison Dupuy today.