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Jan 30, 2012 12:17 PM

Skillful NOLA Chowhounding, Generally....

Any general philosophical suggestions for serious chowhounding in NOLA without dying?

I know the usual strategies - small portions, lots of walking, stay hydrated. I'd like to hear NOLA-specific ones. There are a lot of NOLA food veterans on this board, so I'm curious about their strategies. This is some of the heaviest food in the country, so I approach it with respect and caution.

FWIW, here's what I'm planning: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/830876

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  1. I have never encountered this question regarding food. I have heard it regarding drink and that advise always begins with pacing. I suppose the same applies here. People in my world grew up on this stuff and have developed hearty appetites and sturdy stomachs. I've seen healthy men rush to the men's room because they were not used to the richness of the food. Natives think nothing of knocking off shrimp remoulade, broccoli hollandaise, souffle potatoes, sauteed soft shell crab with butter (or something else with hollandaise or bearnaise) but I once saw some folks from Alabama floored by such a menu.

    The only time I ever calculate what I am going to eat is if I am on a Rolling Barrage. If I start at Commander's, I always have turtle soup, maybe a salad, maybe something of a side order. Then re-locate to the next place for its specialities. You can always start with Casamento's oysters since "they present no bulk" then meander somewhere else. Char-grilled is richer, of course. (I only get those at Drago's having given up on almost every other effort.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: hazelhurst

      I'm coming from the opposite direction. I'm a longtime veteran food writer/restaurant critic. I'm capable of super-human ingestion. But I don't much enjoy it. Nor do any of us. After a point, the constant eating blow-out thing doesn't feel like fun, it feels like work. And I want this to feel like fun.

      So this isn't like "scared-puppy/delicate-flower-is-'fraid-of-big-bad-NOLA". It's more like "leathery-faced-drunk-wants-to-attend-wine-tasting-without-heaving-all-over-guests".

    2. Do as much walking as possible...enjoy what passes for winter at the 30th parallel. Don't waste calories on crap (like hotel continental breakfasts), and alternate grease-laden specialties with lighter fare...fried shrimp poboy for lunch? then go Vietnamese for dinner and have pho tai and spring rolls.

      If you can eat NY deli fare, you'll survive NOLA w/no problem.

      1. Order from the appetizer menu, have 2 - 3 or 4 instead of an entree. Split an entree with your dining companion.

        3 Replies
        1. re: DBinNOLA

          To repeat: I'm familiar with general strategies. To fit my question (and relevance on this message board), please suggest NOLA-specific tricks, if you've got any.

          1. re: Jim Leff

            If your trip is long enough, you may want to go with two meals per day ie. brunch at Commanders, dinner at Emerils. Breakfast and Old Coffee Pot, late lunch at Galatoire’s. I always shutter when I read about those Camelia Grill-Galatoire’s-Commanders days. I can’t even think about eating that much in one day. Also, think about making your dinner reservations for 9:00 or later. The only negative would be that a few restaurants will be 86ed something that you might have wanted. That seems to happen frequently, especially at places that are serving fresh fish or have daily menus.

            1. re: Jim Leff

              PRE-TREAT! and no HURRICANES!!! I defriended hurricanes and cream based drinks long ago when binging, save the Brandy Milk Punch at Galatoire's. cheers~

          2. I am no longer the "youngster," that I once was, so I concentrate on breakfast, and then dinner.

            Normally, we skip lunches, and go with two, hopefully well-chosen meals, per day.

            Once, I'd do Maxie's Coffeepot's breakfast (back when it was Maxie's), then do lunch at Franks, and do a RB po-boy, plus half of wife's muff., then dine in the FQ for dinner. That does not happen anymore. I now need to pace myself.



            1. There are no NOLA-specific strategies for successful overeating. Unfortunately, we're not a superior race of gourmands with genetically enhanced digestive systems that allow us to eat trout meuniere and crabmeat maison every meal without getting sick and fat. People who live here don't eat "some of the heaviest food in the country" constantly. Of course I can only speak for myself and my own observations of friends and family, but we eat like regular people. We (myself and my family) do eat a lot of the dishes perceived as "New Orleans food," like red beans & rice, gumbo, and lots of Gulf seafood, but they're not inherently heavy or unhealthy. And we make them ourselves at home, so we know exactly what's going in there. The heavy restaurant food is an indulgence reserved for special occasions. Just as you probably don't go to Peter Luger every day for lunch, we don't go to Galatoire's. I don't mean to come off as snide or sarcastic, but I think there's this perception of New Orleans as a homogeneous group of people just walking around eating étoufée all the time. It's not true. We have regular, varied diets. As a restaurant critic, you're probably far better equipped to handle overeating than the average New Orleanian.

              12 Replies
              1. re: uptownlibrarian

                I'm aware that all locals don't visit multitudinous venues, or eat heavy, on a daily basis. I was asking the many members of this board who don't live there but who visit regularly and pack in enthusiastic eating schedules (and to locals who sometimes do more intense research, e.g. investigating new nabes or surrounding areas).

                I'm guessing some of those people do make themselves uncomfortable. Those aren't the ones I'm asking. I'm hoping to get overall NOLA chowhounding strategy from old hands who've strategized ways to bask without overloading in a locale nobody visits for its salads. Chowhounding is about strategizing, and this is one of the parts of it. I'm less experienced in places where cuisine tacks so heavy (at least in the sorts of dishes unique to the place, which is what hounds are mostly up for), so I'm asking for help.

                I thought that was reasonably clear. And I think I made real clear that, yes, I'm very well equipped to handle overeating, as you say. But I don't want to do that, because it feels like work to me, not fun.

                So you're someone who doesn't have an answer for my question. That's cool.

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  I go to NOLA every year, and plan my visit around food. What we usually do is eat an early lunch, do a LOT of walking, and get a late dinner, then go dancing and / or more walking around. I am not an exceptionally big eater at home, but do like to maximize my options when on vacation. So a good blend of spaced out dining, some exercise and plenty of water usually works for me. And a cache of PeptoBismol and some phenergan in case of emergency!

                  Oh, and stretchy pants....

                  1. re: betheroo

                    Yeah, I like the spread meal idea (though the lengthy gap may serve as a sort of vacuum, encouraging more bites). And dancing's a great strategy, especially in one of the few cities that actually inspires that sort of thing!

                    What's phenergan?

                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      An antinausea medication, in case of, um, too much, um, dancing. Or an accidental late night trip to the Clover Grill as a result of too much, um, dancing!

                      I also try to eat just one really heavy meal per day, but honestly that rarely works for me. Too much wonderful food available!

                      Another strategy I have used is to peck about; go one place for a few oysters, walk, get a muff, walk, get some BBQ shrimp, walk....you get the picture. We did an oyster crawl one year, just did some research, made a map and planned a half dozen of every different recipe we could find within walking distance....big fun!

                      1. re: betheroo

                        when going back home with plans of eating like I'm going to the chair, I find it better to graze all day. and I srsly ease up on the drink. I have certain dishes at each restaurant I want to visit, and usually share or get apps, so I can taste more. beating the clock is a young person's game, so I have to plan wisely, my recent 14 day visit resulted in no weight gain, cocktail "flu", or stomach "virus". after 50 yrs of living there, it took 2 yrs away to come back and get it right and not miss a meal in the process.

                        1. re: edible complex

                          The concept of the "tastes," is what we love about "Chef's Tasting Menus." Normally, they are smallish, and there are many of them, so one gets a lot of "tastes," and seldom overeats.

                          Love it,


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            a good lunch is sharing Mr. B's bbq shrimp and gumbo ya ya, Galatoire's six pack of rock and crabmeat maison, Hermes Bar's oyster foch with intermittent spins at the Carousel and stops at Napoleon House.

                  2. re: Jim Leff

                    We used to live in NOLA, and wife is a native. Still, after one wonderful trip, we hit Galatoire's late in he excursion, and my wife pulled our server aside, begging, "what do you have, that is NOT cooked in butter?" At some point, one hits the WALL.

                    Now, we normally do those two meals per day, really saving ourselves for the dinner, but can burn out.

                    My trick is to NEVER schedule my physical, right after a trip to NOLA!



                  3. re: uptownlibrarian

                    Ditto! To the OP - just because we live here does not mean we are an alien species. There is no magic trick - pick up the fork, put food into mouth, chew, swallow, repeat. If you are looking for recommendations a good local source is: www.nomenu.com.

                    1. re: DBinNOLA

                      Thanks very much for clarifying on that.

                      1. re: Jim Leff

                        I think that what might work for some may not work for others. We only eat one meal per day at home but eat what we want. In NO, we try to have an early lunch and make it the heavier of the meals and dinner before 8:00 PM but something lighter or split something. Neither of us can handle large amounts of food on our stomach too late or there is no sleep. Sometimes even eating anything at night will keep me up.

                        I think you may just have to find what works for you. I've eaten this rich food all my life and cook all the same dishes at home. But as I get older, they seem to affect me different.

                        Good luck and I'm looking forward to the report after your trip.

                      2. re: DBinNOLA

                        "Alien species," I agree.Though a native, the webbing between my wife's toes has diminished over the years... [Wink]