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What food would you miss?

  • s

Okay, we're moving back to the southwest after spending six years in New Orleans. Everybody says "you're going to miss the food." Now, we can make jambalaya, red beans and rice, gumbo, and barbecued shrimp better than the versions served in most restaurants. We know that fresh shrimp will be more expensive and harder to come by, but other than that, we can't think of much that we will really miss. Neither of us is particularly sad about never having another po-boy. I suppose we might miss muffalettas, but since we eat them about once a year, that shouldn't pose a big problem. Same for beignets. No more crawfish boils, but we've had our share of them, and they're fun, but that's one of those "been there, done that" kind of things for us.

Yes, we know this is heresy. Luckily you can't stone me through e-mail. But I thought I would take a poll: If you were to move away from Louisiana, what food would you miss? (Not fair to say "my mama's (whatever).)

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  1. Actually, I've done just that. Thirty years ago we moved back to Texas after living in Slidell for a year and a half. We missed boiled crab. Also poor boys - both oyster and shrimp. Now we can get decent poor boys in the Dallas area. Bread's not as good. but oh well---

    2 Replies
    1. re: Plano Rose

      Forgot to add that I learned to make really good redbeans and rice and seafood gumbo from my native New Orleanean neighbor, so we eat Louisiana style frequently.

      1. re: Plano Rose

        That you can, but these days, you can get really good bread as well PR. Where's your favorite DFW place for a po boy?


      2. h
        Hungry Celeste

        Okay, Sarah, I'll bite on this one:
        --dirt cheap LA strawberries in the spring ($9/flat) eaten with Mauthe's creole cream cheese & local honey
        --softshell crabs, still alive when you clean 'em (sauteed or fried--I'm not picky)
        --Hansen's Sno-Bliz (lemonade or sno-bliz flavors) and a chance to chat with Mary Hansen
        --pounds of jumbo lump crabmeat and cocktail claws, picked the same day, at wholesale prices from the crab-picking factory ($8 for claws and $12 for jumbo lump)
        --satsumas in the fall from your neighbor's backyard trees
        --Steen's cane syrup (I guess you COULD mail-order it)
        --grilled redfish that you caught yourself just a few hours before
        --25-cent oysters at an oyster bar. When you ask the shucker where they're from, you not only know the oysterman, but know the name of his boat and the guy who built it for him.
        --fresh file (it fades pretty quickly)
        --Gratons, andouille, boudin, and especially TASSO from the BestStop in Scott, LA

        Along with Gendusa's french bread, the fruit ices at Angelo Brocato, and a properly made Sazerac, #7 steaks, 8 different kinds of salted/pickled pork at the supermarket....I could go on and on!

        12 Replies
        1. re: Hungry Celeste

          You are correct, Celeste. I moved from Louisiana to Texas years ago.....I miss your entire list, especially the satumas. I think I would trade bbq and texmex for fresh 25 cents oysters anyday of the week.

          I would add Abita beer and roman candy to the list. We can buy Abita beer at Whole Foods sometimes, so thats good.

          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            Everything Celeste mentioned except the Sazeracs.

            I'd have to add perfectly fried oysters on French. Really good gumbo and different varieties. Boiled seafood.

            1. re: Hungry Celeste
              Beau Noppatee

              A perfect post, Hungry C. True poetry to a chowhound. But where does a person get soft shells that are still breathing. Do you do your own trawling? If you don't, will you out your connection? I've never seen one in a crab trap.

              1. re: Beau Noppatee

                They have live ones at the farmer's market in New Orleans, I specifically saw them at the Saturday morning one at Magazine and Girod, since I pointed them out to my parents and they (the crabs) were moving around. I commented on not wanting to buy them because I'd have to cut their face off while they were alive and the vendor said they'd be happy to clean them for me right there. I don't know where the vendor was from, though.

                1. re: Jessi
                  Hungry Celeste

                  Softshells recovered while trawling are often dead (the long dragging time kills 'em). All commercially available softshells are "made" in holding tanks...the producer buys or catches "red line" crabs, then holds them in tanks (with filtration/aeration) or in floating holding pens in brackish water, until the crab sheds its shell. A crab indicates its readiness to shed by displaying a thin but pronounced red line on the last segment of its back leg (the leg attached to the jumbo lump of crabmeat). Red line crabs are a week or so away from shedding; blue line crabs are 10+ days from a molt. Molting is influenced by moon phase, tide, salinity, crab's age/sex, etc. Crabbers watch for these markings and are paid a premium for the shedder (aka peeler aka buster) crabs.

                  If you take the crab out of the water within 10 minutes or so of its shedding, it will remain soft (the crab needs water to reharden its new shell). They'll remain alive under moist refrigeration for as long as several days.

                  1. re: Jessi

                    Thanks so much. Magazine and Girod? Isn't that in the CBD? (going to the Yahoo maps right now) There was a seafood market near Ocshner on Jefferson Highway that had good softshells. I think it was called Southern or maybe it was just in the front of Southern Poboy. Anyway, it changed hands. I've checked twice so far and no more soft shell crabs. Are there any noteworthy seafood markets on Hwy 90 around Bayou des Allemand? Maybe those places Hungry C suggested for native catfish. Thanks also to Hungy C for the information on little buster's life cycle. I feel like I'm getting educated.

                    1. re: Jessi

                      "was from" may be the correct tense as they were from Laffite before the storms. Have you seen them since then? I don't know if they are still working. I have a card from them somewhere and will see if I can get their numbers for you. Before, if you called, they would bring you live Buster crabs.

                      1. re: Panama Hat

                        Some of the Lafitte producers were indeed knocked for a loop, but you can still get softshells from producers in des Allemands and a couple on Bayou Lafourche, too.

                  2. re: Hungry Celeste

                    GREAT list Celeste! I have followed you for a while on chowhound your recommendations are always fabulous. Do you have a food blog?
                    We live in Mississippi, but spend about 6 months out of the year in New Orleans, where can I find 25 cent raw oysters? Also, I was wanting to make a big pot of red beans soon, do you have a recommendation for somewhere to get great ham hocks and sausage?
                    Love the best stop recommendation. We went to the cracklin festival this year and on the way we went on a five hour boudin tour, best stop was the best!

                    1. re: chowdie

                      25 cent raw oysters at Harbor Seafood/Fisherman's Cove in Kenner...see them online at http://www.fishermanscoveseafood.com/...
                      Everyone's idea of good sausage is different....I'm partial to the andouille at Wayne Jacobs, the fresh sausages from Bourgeois Meat Market in Thibodaux, and I'd rather have tasso than a ham hock any day in my red beans. I blog at www.bouillie.wordpress.com

                    2. re: Hungry Celeste

                      So where is the crab picking factory? I know thre is one in Holma..

                      Thanks in Advance


                      1. re: don515

                        I like the friendly folks at Punch's seafood in Lockport, though you can also find "crab factories" in Des Allemands, Larose, Lafitte, Slidell, Houma, etc. Check the label printed on the plastic tubs of crabmeat: it will list the packer/processor by name & permit number. Many packers will sell retail, direct to you, if you happen to be nearby.

                    3. I've got the opposite problem. I miss fresh green chiles roasting in the fall, and good green chile stew with pork. (I can make green chile, but I miss being able to get it at any restaurant in town...)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jayne

                        Jayne, I guess we're more like you. I can hardly wait for the green chile stew and related delights.

                        Speaking of green chiles, last summer the uptown Whole Foods got a shipment of Hatch green chiles, and they roasted them in the parking garage. I can't remember what month that was, but watch for the event!

                        1. re: Sarah C

                          Hatch season is usually in late August and ends late Sept to early Oct.

                      2. b
                        Beau Noppatee

                        And speaking of missing, I sure will miss your postings. I guess you can still visit the board wherever you are. Southwest of what? Do you mean as in Santa Fe? High plains and cactus trees?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Beau Noppatee

                          Thanks. It's Phoenix -- and we will be eating lots of Mexican food, among other things. Phoenix also seems to have a pretty good variety of ethnic and other interesting restaurants, in addition to Southwestern and Mexican. When and if I become knowledgeable enough to post, it will be on the Southwest board. Of course I'll still be checking the New Orleans board from time to time. I'm sure lots of people we meet will be asking us for our NOLA recommendations.

                        2. Charcroiled oysters, bread pudding, turtle soup, beignets, muffalettas, barbecue shrimp (Mr. B's), creme brulee, red beans and rice on Mondays!

                          1. I happened on this post that I started over two years ago and decided it is time to update it. After two years in Phoenix, I do miss the crawfish boils (not to mention Celeste's family crab boil). And the fresh seafood is definitely not so easy to come by here, and more expensive. The only restaurants I really miss are Lola's, Rocky & Carlo's, and Lafitte's Landing, and I know the latter is gone anyway. (Did John Folse ever open a new place in Baton Rouge?) And I haven't had a milk punch in forever.

                            Sarah C

                            1. I've lived in Texas all my adult life. I spent a few months in Seattle a few years ago. After one month I was craving TexMex like it was crack cocaine! The favorite amongst the locals was about a half a step above Taco Bell. Put raw cabbage on everything.
                              My first Tex Mex meal back in Texas sent me into a hypo-manic episode :)

                              1. cheap oysters, crawfish pie, gumbo, burgers and pie that are just better in New Orleans. Every type of food they make in NO is better and tastier than if it were prepared in another state.

                                1. If you can't say "my mama's (whatever" then this question isn't really fair. To miss New Orleans (or South Louisiana in general) is to miss its entire food culture, which is found as much in home kitchens as it is in restaurants. And the culture is an ethic of its people that says food is more important than most other things in life.

                                  One thing I do miss about New Orleans is living in a city where the casual, cheap food can be just as delicious and inventive and unique as the expensive food. I think parts of the Southwest probably do this well do, with Mexican and Mexican inspired "street food" as well as top restaurants. This quality across the board, I think, is what separates us from the Kansas City's and the Las Vegas's.

                                  1. There are definitely some foods I miss, the roast beef po boy from Memes at Canal and Robert E Lee, the shimp po boy from Mandinas, the seafood and people who know how to cook it properly.

                                    But I do want to stand up for Kansas City, the bbq is something that New Orleans/south Louisiana does not have. And the best bbq is from the locally grown places, not chains. My last experience was with Jones BBQ in KCK and it was kick ass good. And the little Mexican restaurants in KCK are way better than any found in New Orleans. When you walk in and they only speak Spanish, then you know it will not be taco bell. Don't get me wrong, I love New Orleans and miss it trememdously, but I have discovered that if you get off the main commercial drag, you can find foods in a lot of places that you never expected. And good food of quality. You just have to be willing to go beyond the touristy places.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: tiomano

                                      I think that's true of almost any area, that you need to find those little local cafes and enjoy whatever they do best, regionally. Now there are some areas where it is more difficult than others to find that local treasure . . . try rural northern Illinois, for example . . . but there must be something special in every part of the country. Not to mention the rest of the world.

                                      But to stick to the New Orleans topic, the highlights are generally dishes that include seafood, and they do good things with pork, too (not including barbecue, as you mention).

                                      Sarah C

                                    2. After spending 15 years in Houston and coming home, I would ALWAYS bring back the satsumas and the Creole tomatoes after a trip to New Orleans. Now I miss the Tex/Mex and the Vietnamese food that I could get in Houston. I could get my seafood there. I guess we're never happy. Oh yeah, and the Takee Outee after a night at Pat O's.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Tchoupitoulas

                                        try belle chasse for vietnamese! most of the places aren't posh, but you can't really go wrong across the riva

                                      2. As a native of Louisiana who spent the first 30 years of his life there and grew up on the wonderful Cajun and Creole dishes, I MISS ALL OF IT! Say what you want, but I have to have my mother send me or order from the internet, at a premium, Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, Zatarain's Creole mustard, tasso, andouille, and Camellia-brand red beans. Finding the right seafood is also impossible where I live-no fresh red fish for courtbouillon, no speckled trout for trout meuniere amandine, no fresh Gulf shrimp for shrimp remoulade, no fresh Gulf oysters for oysters en brochette, no fresh Gulf blue crabs for stuffed crabs. The supposedly fresh okra is pathetic! Yes, sometimes I can find the frozen, but when you are used to going to the market, the docks, or even catching your own, the frozen stuff just does not work. Turtle meat to make a turtle soup is nonexistent where I live. If you really know Louisiana cuisine and how to prepare it, you will know that it becomes more and more difficult the further from Louisiana you are. Yes, there are substitutes and possibly frozen items, but they are just not the same as the fresh, indigenous ingredients of Louisiana. I, for one, can definitely tell the difference in the taste.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: kdbroussa

                                          Amen on all points. These are exactly what I am forced to order online as well: Zatarain's Creole mustard, tasso, andouille, and camellia red beans. I have made friends with the seafood people at our Central Market grocery store here, so I can be notified on arrival of fresh crabs and shrimp and oysters... but dang, it's expensive. I cannot find one place online for Community iced tea bags. No grocery here carries LIQUID crab boil (after talking with the ordering guys, apparently the mix form is cheaper to ship and lasts longer on the shelf). Crawfish are coming in at around $5.99/lb... and they have NO clue what you mean when you ask for 'a couple of sacks of crawfish' for a boil/education class for the neighbors. I order Creole tomato plants for my garden and grow my own okra... it's almost a time-consuming second career to just have what you can get in NO at the market, but it's worth it to have good food. The TexMex is nothing to write home about here (in Austin), and I'd settle for LA food over TexMex anyday.

                                        2. I did not grow up in LA but my dad married into a native New Orleans family and my stepmom turned me on to the amazing food of the region. Honestly, I never thought I would drool over cheese grits let alone master a decent roux. I used to go grocery shopping on my visits and have them ship many of the things that have been mentioned. What I have found since Katrina, is that several products are now available up here near DC. I can now get the following:

                                          Abita Beer
                                          Tony C's seasoning
                                          Tobasco Chili Mix
                                          Zaps potato chips
                                          Zatarian's products(except the liquid boil which I LOVE)
                                          Frozen crawfish
                                          Cafe du Monde Coffee(hugely popular in Asian stores)

                                          We even now have a restaurant, Acadiana, in DC that serves po'boys,bbq shrimp and such as the chef is from LA. But with all of this, and family recipes, I still miss..well...everything..because you can try to replicate the food and transplant the products but you can't reproduce the soul that is New Orleans or LA. So the best I can do is eat my grits and grillades, think back to some great times and look forward to coming down for Thanksgiving!

                                          1. If you can cook, then to some degree you'll take the food with you.

                                            But you will not be able to go walk to, drive or stumble upon a restaurant in the southwest and eat gumbo or red beans and rice. There is the difference between cooking food and luxuriating in effortless consumption -- that is the difference between in many ways between living in New Orleans and living away from it.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: mritters

                                              It.....is....ALIVE!!!! It's alive!

                                            2. Boudin! You can't find it, and you WILL miss it. Balls, blanc, or what have you, good luck finding it outside of So. La.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: davem60612

                                                I have never lived in Louisiana, only visited, once to New Orleans and twice to the Lafayette area. It was awful coming back to Seattle and finding no boudin anywhere! The "boudin" here is not boudin! The second time I went down to Lafayette/Opelousas/Crowley etc. I went to a different boudin stand every day. Bad idea, because when I came home I was even more addicted. Is the stuff still great after shipping? I might have to pony up and mail order.

                                              2. Funny, I started this thread back in 2004 and it's still going. After six years away from New Orleans, it turns out there are plenty of things that we miss -- including:

                                                -decent shrimp
                                                -Jacob's andouille
                                                -chicken schwarma at Mona's
                                                -paella, aioli and garlic shrimp at Lola's
                                                -West Bank burger at Dry Dock
                                                -NO Rum (which I think isn't made anymore)
                                                -crawfish boils (please forgive me for saying "been there done that")
                                                -good oysters and softshell crab
                                                -Rocky & Carlo's
                                                -the French Quarter Festival
                                                -being able to walk to a neighborhood bar and hang out

                                                I could go on. Most of all we miss our Algiers Point neighborhood and the always-ready-to-have-a-party attitude in the city.

                                                6 Replies
                                                  1. re: uptownlibrarian

                                                    I think some confusion arises because the original bottles were labeled simply New Orleans Rum (without the Old) and had different labels featuring the art of the distillery's founder, James Michalopoulos, right on the labels (his art now adorns the tags that come attached to the bottles). I'm not sure when or why the "Old" was added to the name and labels/logos changed.

                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                      I'm happy to hear it's being produced again, whatever the name may be.

                                                  2. re: kittyfood

                                                    We'll think of you at our Good Friday boil this year...or there's always Soutthwest....

                                                    1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                                      Your Good Friday boil was definitely a highlight of our tenure. I guess you never know what you have till it's gone. Although you do seem to appreciate what you have. Lucky you.

                                                    2. re: kittyfood

                                                      Add Cafe Reconcile to that list.
                                                      Also the original Emeril's.
                                                      And for a new option added after we left, Cochon.
                                                      And milk punch, although we can make our own.

                                                      930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

                                                      Emeril's Restaurant
                                                      800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

                                                      Cafe Reconcile
                                                      1712 Oretha C Haley Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70113

                                                    3. I was born and raised in New Orleans but moved away to S. Texas for 26 yrs. Now we're back and so happy to be....but.....now we crave good Tex Mex. Having tried various places around town we stumbled upon "La Fiesta", on Stumpf Blvd in Gretna. It's so close to the food we ate in Victora we can't believe it. A little piece of Mexican heaven on the W. Bank., and it's been there for over 30 yrs. Who knew??? You gotta try it. The beans are worth going for themselves.