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Jan 6, 2010 10:47 AM

What foodstuffs should I buy to bring home?

Hi all:

I'll be visiting New Orleans this weekend, staying in the French Quarter (no car, but willing to cab and hoof it anywhere) from Thurs-Mon. We already have a long list of restaurants to try after reading the posts here. However, are there any supplies/ingredients that I should be shopping for when I'm in town?

Right now the only thing I can think of are pralines, file powder and maybe some local junior league type cookbooks. Bread for po boys probably won't freeze well, right? But other than that, I'm kind of lost. Any ideas?

A little bit of backstory: My bf's family is originally from the Louisiana area, but he claims they aren't very good cooks. It's fallen to me to learn how to make the standards since we live in Los Angeles. I don't know if his family is more cajun or creole, but I'm planning on learning how to cook both styles.

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  1. Camellia beans for red beans, Zapp's potato chips, various varieties but Spicy Creole Tomato is my favorite. If you have a way, I would suggest some tasso and andouille as well.

    3 Replies
    1. re: roro1831

      I'd add Crystal Hot Sauce--we like to support the Baumer family--maybe Louisiana Brand hot sauce ("One Drop Does It"), Zatarain's Crab Boil (and the fish fry with lemon) Zatarain's seasoning or, of you can find it, "Slap Ya Mama" which is from Ville Platte Ville Platte(no MSG).

      The NOLA Jr League Plantation Cookbook is quite good and there is always the BR League classic River Road. You'll have no shortage of choices. My rule of thumb is to judge by the turtle soup recipes: if it can be made in a hurry some claim to be ready in an hour) forget the book. Amateurs.

      What part of La is the boyfriend from? That can particularize things...

      1. re: hazelhurst

        Olive salad (You could buy that from Central Grocery)

        Coffe and Chickory (in the can) from Cafe du Monde

        A link to some stores and grocery types for New Orleans foods and seasonings etc in the French Quarter:

        1. re: Suzy Wong

          Or the French Market brand Pure Coffee...

    2. Anything made by Zatarain's, Mam Papaul's, Zapp's, Tony's or Abita.

      1. The French Market brand coffee is a good suggestion. You can find Luzianne in many mainstream supermarkets around the country and Cafe Du Monde in asian supermarkets for some reason, but I have yet to see the French Market coffee anywhere outside NOLA. And that's the favored brand at Commander's Palace.

        Other's have already mentioned the Central Grocery olive salad but I would also consider Boscoli's. It's great. Olive salad around here (Maryland, even house-made at Italian groceries) is disgusting.

        We did once bring back so many cans of Blue Runner beans from Rouse's that it put our luggage over the limit and we ended up spending something like an extra $50 to check out bags! Stupid, but we were it too good a mood to worry about it.

        There are places where you can order many of your favorites, like

        3 Replies
        1. re: kukubura

          A bit late, and not entirely relevant -- I live in NYC and saw a big display of French Market coffee last year at the Key Food here in Brooklyn. It's not something they carry regularly, it's almost like they got a promotional case or something. (Key isn't even an especially good supermarket.)

          1. re: Mark Alberts

            The key question is: with chicory or without? I see the chicory occasionally elsewhere but the Pure Coffee is hard to find outside New Orleans...and I prefer the pure for day to day.

            1. re: Mark Alberts

              Vietnamese markets in Chinatown carry the chicory version. I haven't seen the non-chicory, though.

          2. Just a side note- doublecheck with the airlines if there is anything that they won't allow on carryons. I had to throw away a jar of mustard once when getting on a plane to go home.

            6 Replies
            1. re: jessicheese

              A friend almost couldn't bring back olive salad (a small jar!) for us a few months back. He sweet talked them, but it was touch and go and they ran it through the terrorscan. I'd imagine after the xmas near-disaster it'll only be worse.

              1. re: kukubura

                Perhaps you could send the local TSA people some bottles of what you described as "disgusting" efforts in MD. Then, maybe, they'd look with more charitable eyes on Olive Salad Mules

                1. re: hazelhurst

                  Yeah, maybe we need some sort of special dispensation for bringing back foods that apparently can't be replicated elsewhere. Special message to italian markets in Maryland: Simply grinding up cheap olives into a paste does not an olive salad make! And smearing said paste on to a stale sub roll with cold cuts is not a muffaletta!

                  1. re: kukubura

                    Ugh! I see your point.

                    And I always have such a nice time when in Annapolis....well, never had the olive salad...and don'tplan to. thanks for teh waraning.

                    1. re: hazelhurst

                      Oh there's great food to be had around here. But not the cuisine of New Orleans. Although there are a few cajun and/or creole restaurants in the area that try their hardest.

                      1. re: kukubura

                        The mussels at the Tavern there by the Academy are right good.

                        You recall the story of the restaurant in NYC on Lex that in the 1970's was trying to do the local food. RB&R was something like $20, with sausage $22.95. Described as "a typical southwest Louisiana peasant dish."

            2. I second olive salad, Camellia red beans (red beans are never nearly as fresh anywhere else in the country--they don't have our turnover), the Plantation cookbook, and Andouille. If you can find a place to freeze your andouille, it can go straight into your checked bag (which you will need if you're taking back olive salad at this "terror level"), since it stays very cold in the cargo hold. If you really want to go all out, though, you might get an igloo and pack it with various sausages (boudin!), lump crabmeat, and some vacuum packed bags of crawfish tails, and lots of blue ice. I also always try to bring back a stock of Steen's cane syrup (cans travel best) and popcorn rice.

              2 Replies
              1. re: LostBread

                Steens is a good idea--I forget about it becuase I am not a big "sweets" fan. Crabmeat this time of year is problematic, though...shells and such. It might be fine. Just a thought, though

                1. re: hazelhurst

                  Ah, yes. Crab-timing didn't even occur to me... Also, it probably wouldn't ship that well anyway.