Louisiana’s New Orleans, called “Big Easy” by the locals, is a city close to the Gulf of Mexico on the Mississippi River. It’s notorious for its 24-hour club scene, live entertainment, and its extraordinary cuisine which reflects the fusion of American, African, and French cultures. Though there are over 1,400 restaurants that serves a variety of international cuisines in New Orleans, a person will only have a true taste of the local culture once they have tried their street food. Aside from the Mardi Gras, Creole and Cajun cooking embodies the true spirit of Louisiana. New Orleans cuisine which introduced delicious dishes like the muffuletta, beignets, Etouffee, and po’boys to the American palette has made a great contribution to the improvement of American cuisine. Here is our list of the eight best street food you must try in New Orleans, Louisiana. Taste them and see what it is all about!
Falafel is a popular Middle Eastern dish classified as fritters. The dough is made of ground fava beans, chickpeas, or a combination of the two with onion relatives, herbs, and spices added to the mix. Using hands, the patty is formed into a ball that is deep-fried in a round, flat, or doughnut shape. It is commonly eaten item placed in pita bread or enveloped in flatbread called taboon. It is also eaten as a wrapped sandwich with the balls served over a bed of veggies drizzled with tahini or hot sauce. This delicious dish with its origins in Egypt is often served as an appetizer (meze) or as a snack. This humble street food of New Orleans is served in other parts of the world as a popular vegetarian dish.
Empanadas are savory filled pastries that originates in Galicia, Spain. Its name is derived from the Spanish word “empanar” meaning “enbreaded”. Fillings made of meat, corn, cheese, and other ingredients are wrapped with a dough which is either baked or fried until the pastry shell is flaky. This pastry is popular around the world in different names, fillings, and variations (like Russia’s pirozhki, South and Central Asia’s Somoza, and the British Isles’ Pasty). To give it the distinct identity of New Orleans, the fillings used to stuff the empanadas are ingredients like crawfish etouffee, artichoke and spinach, and gumbo. It’s delicious as a snack, breakfast food, and as food to go.
3. Fried chicken
Though fried chicken is not distinctly a New Orlean’s dish, it remains as one of the favorite dishes of the locals. The local chefs have added a twist to the fried chicken recipe and in doing so gave it a refreshing taste even if the seasonings used were only salt and pepper, battered, and fried. Fried chicken is found almost everywhere - from sit down dinners, to fancy restaurants, and on the sidewalks. There are restaurants selling only wings and boneless fried chicken. Some restaurants use a batter similar to the one used for corndogs to coat the chicken before it is fried. The result is a crust that’s airy and light. Another version of the recipe uses bourbon as its brine and is drizzled with honey and tabasco.
Beignet is a doughnut minus the hole. This sweet treat is available all day at any café and is great as a midnight snack, dessert, and breakfast fare. Grocery stores also sell the mix so you can make the batter yourself. The batter is made of unsalted butter, salt, sugar, eggs, flour, and vanilla. These are combined together then deep-fried in hot oil or shortening until they are shiny and golden brown. The doughnuts are sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar and served hot paired with warm cocoa or coffee. Café du Monde, the oldest beignet shop in the French Quarter sells these delicacies. There is a Beignet Festival held every October where you can taste all kinds of beignets.
5. Wood-fired pizzas
This rustic way of cooking pizza never goes out of style. The simple dough is unrolled into a disk. Then cheese, tomato sauce, tomatoes, onions, meats, and other ingredients are spread or sprinkled on top of the dough before it is placed into a brick oven filled with oak firewood. Oakwood can reach high temperatures up to 1,200 degrees which is ideal for cooking pizza in two minutes. The smoke from the firewood adds a smoky taste to the pizza. There are at least five pizza parlors in New Orleans that use this traditional method of cooking pizza. You should try at least one of them.
6. French fries
Fries are often served around the streets or out of food trucks when there is a music festival or cultural event. The fries are typically thinly cut potatoes, deep-fried in oil until firm and crunchy, then simply seasoned with salt and pepper. Following the Belgian tradition, the fries are served with a variety of toppings like herbs, sauces, and garlic, customized to suit the customer’s tastes and preferences. You can purchase fries from establishments like markets, outside famous bars, and during festivals. French fries are also paired with freshly made falafel.
Porchetta is a flavorful pork roast dish that originates in Italy. The pork belly carcass is deboned and laid out flat so it can be filled with stuffing made of wild fennel, liver, rosemary, garlic, and other wild herbs. The meat is then rolled into the shape of a log and tied tight using a string. It is then roasted or deep-fried in oil to achieve the perfect brown crispy skin and tender juicy inner meat. There are a lot of new techniques and ingredients being added to cooking porchetta inventing newer mouthwatering variations to the dish. Once cooked, the meat is sliced in circles and served as it is or sliced into smaller pieces and served as a sandwich.
8. Chicken tenders
Chicken tenders are basically strips of boneless chicken breast meat (chicken tenderloin meat in most establishments) that are dredged in flour and seasoned lightly in salt before it is deep-fried. It is often paired with French fries or toast and served with a special sauce concocted by the restaurant owner. Most Cajun sauces that go with the chicken tenders are made with ketchup, special seasoning, and mayo to give it that peppery taste. The chicken tenders are eaten by dipping the pieces into the sauce before biting into them bit by bit so you can enjoy its savory flavor.
The flavors of New Orleans
Without a doubt, the many flavors of New Orleans cuisine bring excitement to the palette. These savory dishes and desserts that started out as working-class food is now an important part of a tourist’s experience when visiting New Orleans. These dishes reflect the centuries-old diversity and complexity of their history and culture and will remind you of Crescent City once you’ve tasted them. Savor the extraordinary street food in New Orleans so you will have a memorable trip!
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