Best and most important foods from Louisiana
I'm writing my senior thesis about recipe preservation in the south and I am living in New Orleans trying to eat my way through the city while getting my study on.
I am trying to compile a list of significant Louisiana tastes/methods of cooking/ingredients and would like to beef up my list with the help of some chowhounds!
What is a food/dish/ingredient that you think is significant to New Orleans culinary history? (For example: po boys, gumbo z'herbes, sazeracs, sno balls, etc.) And what's a story that you have involving that food? Do you remember the first time you ate a sno ball and what flavor it was? Or the first time your grandfather taught you how to make a roux? Tell me pleeease!
I'll show you mine if you show me yours: One of the first things that made it onto my list was my grandmother's red beans and rice. I remember growing up in California eating it often with my parents and sister with a huge dollop of pickle relish on top and praying that I'd get the biggest chunk of hamhock meat. I had no idea that it was ever cooked another way and when I started doing my research down here in NOLA I found recipes for dozens of different ways to cook red beans and rice (some with andouille, some with cumin, some with scallions, etc.) and am so excited to expand my red beans recipe repertoire.
:) Thanks for your help. (below, my grandmother holding my dad on the porch of their house on Dufossat; red beans and rice the last time my dad cooked them for me)
It aounds as though you may already have read it but you might look at Sara Roahen's "Gumbo Tales" which, while I have my qualms, is not a bad overview and is instructive to natives watching an auslander trying to settle in in double-barrelled zeal. Roahen identifies several local items (all the ones you mention) and fits the bill for the Tourism Bureau's perfect Zealous Convert.
Incidentally, your father's red beans, as pictured, would have excited the late Richard Collin who invented a "standard" for judging RB&R that he called "bean definition." We laughed over that for years, and I even told him once.