A culinary tour of New Orleans

    Spotlight Audio 11/2021
    The Cabildo on the left, St Louis Cathedral on the background. French Quarter, fortune tellers in Jackson Square
    © Maremagnum/Getty Images
    Von Talitha Linehan

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    David: New Orleans has one of the most distinctive regional cuisines of the United States. In the current Travel feature, correspondent Talitha Linehan enjoys some of the Big Easy’s most iconickultigiconic dishes. While in New Orleans, Talitha interviewed food expert Dylan O’Donnell, who is the owner of Doctor gumbowürziges EintopfgerichtGumbo Tours, which offers guided walking tours of the French Quarter that focus on New Orleans’s rich culinary history. Listen now as O’Donnell explains why New Orleans has such a uniqueeinzigartig, besondersunique cultural heritageKulturerbecultural heritage.

    Well, I think there’s a lot of different reasons that it became that way. One, first of all, is you have to understand how geographically isolated it was historically. It was almost entirely surrounded by water. And the people that colonized Louisiana were not the British, but rather the French and the Spanish. So, there’s that Southern European influence. But you can’t to understate sth.etw. unterbewertenunderstate the fact that also, since New Orleans itself became the largest slave market in the United States of America, the West African cultures that came to Louisiana, which were under different circumstances than the West Africans that were sent to the United States, by the very nature of the way that the laws were designed by the French and the Spanish, it allow for sth.etw. vorsehenallowed for different developments of unique Afro-Louisiana culture and therefore contributions to the culinary arts here. And since the land, the high and dry land, was limited, everybody was really forced to live right on top of each other, and so there was a tremendous exchange of ideas.

    David: The French Quarter is the oldest and most celebrated New Orleans neighbourhood (UK)hier: Gegend, Viertelneighbourhood. How can a visitor enjoy the culinary scene there?

    Well, it’s an amazing neighborhood (US)hier: Gegend, Viertelneighborhood. It’s the original colony of New Orleans. It’s the old city itself when it was simply a colony. So, the infrastructure is in some cases 18th century, in most cases 19th century. It’s Spanish Caribbean architecture mostly. And you just have this heavy concentration of restaurants and bars. It’s very pedestrianFußgänger(in)pedestrian friendly. From one point of the French Quarter to the other is, in my opinion, very walkablezu Fuß erreichbarwalkable, 13 by 6 blocks. So that’s one thing, you can to hophüpfen, flitzenhop from one place to the next, and we have a unique series of laws in New Orleans which allow for the open transport of alcoholic beverageGetränkbeverages. So, like you can in certain parts of Europe and South America, but not in the United States, what we can do here in New Orleans is you can literallypraktisch, buchstäblichliterally go to a bar, order a drink and if you’re not finished with it, transfer it to a plastic container, we call it a to-go cup, and then walk through the streets enjoying it. And then if you want to go into another bar with that drink, no one’s going to to not bat an eyenicht mal mit der Wimper zuckenbat an eye, it’s totally fine. And then you can sit down and finish it and order a new drink from the new bar or it might be a bar in that restaurant. So that’s very unique, and that’s as regards drinking. The restaurants are also going to be very diverse. Some of them might be just opened this past year. Or you could go to a place called Antoine’s, which has been open since 1840 or Tujague’s, since 1856, or the Napoleon House, 1918, excuse me 1914. All of those restaurants have already dealt with a global pandemic before. They were there for the 1918 Spanish fluGrippeflu as a restaurant business. So that’s fascinating to me. But getting back to that idea, you can go to some very old-school, old-guardnach alter Schuleold-guard, traditional places, where the staff is literally in tuxedoSmokingtuxedos or black suit and white shirt, where you’re encouraged to have multiple course(Speisen)Gangcourses and it’s white linenLeinenlinen and good wine selections, or there’s plenty of hole in the wall placewinziges Restaurant, kleine Kneipehole in the wall places, if you just want to get a po’boySandwich aus einer Art Baguettepo’boy. Po’boys are something, I mean, listen to the name, po’boy, like it’s literally from a “poor boy,” and you go into a hole in the wall and enjoy this amazing sandwich with great bread, with your choice of fried seafood or deli meatAufschnittdeli meats and cheeses, not fancyausgefallenfancy at all.

    David: Our interview with New Orleans food expert Dylan O’Donnell continues now as he gives a list of top dishes you should try when you visit.

    Of course, gumbo, I would say definitelyauf jeden Falldefinitely have gumbo, and there’s as many gumbos as there are cooks in New Orleans or in Louisiana, so it can vary there. But personally, I like it full of dark rouxMehlschwitzeroux, is what I to gravitate toward sth.zu etw. tendierengravitate towards versusgegenüber, im Vergleich zuversus a thinner, soupier style. Usually gumbo is going to be served with a good andouillepikante, geräucherte Schweinswürstchenandouille sausage, which is a double-smoked pork sausage in more of a German style. And so you’ll always find that in there, whether it’s chicken with andouille or seafood with andouille. But from there, there are so many differences in the way it’s prepared. But got to have gumbo! I would definitely say a po’boy, and again, it’s going to be up to you what protein you choose. Personally, I’m all about the fried oysterAusteroyster po’boy. My wife likes fried shrimp, for example. The muffulettaeine Art Sandwichmuffuletta is our other sandwich contribution to the world. It’s going to be a combination of three pork-based meats. Usually it’s mortadella, smoked ham and salami. Usually there’s two cheeses, sometimes provolone/mozzarella, provolone/Swiss. The bread is Italian style, specifically Sicilian, with to toasthier: röstentoasted sesame seeds on top and has this what we call olive salad or sometimes muffuletta salad, which is basically a spreadAufstrichspread like tapenade, but it’s chunkystückigchunkier. It’s got to chop sth.etw. klein hackenchopped-up olives, dark green olives, caperKapercapers and celeryStangenselleriecelery, and pickled giardinieraeingelegtes gemischtes Gemüsegiardiniera with an olive oil base. It’s not really a spicywürzig, pikantspicy thing at all, but it is a battle of these different flavors: very Italian, very Sicilian, because again, the largest group of European immigrants to New Orleans ever were the Sicilians. So, gumbo, po’boy, the muffuletta. Of course, everybody likes to try a beignet, and I definitely suggest a beignet. It’s not to be revelatoryeine Offenbarung seinrevelatory in any way. I think some people to hype sth. up (ifml.)etw. überhöhen, hochpuschenhype it up a bit too much. It’s literally fried bread with powdered sugar on it, you know. So, people say, where’s the best beignet? Go anywhere. I mean, it’s fried dough with powdered sugar on it. It’s not mind-blowing (ifml.)umwerfendmind-blowing, but it is definitely delicious, and some people like it first thing in the morning with some café au lait, which is our chicory coffeeZichorienwurzel-­Kaffeechicory coffee. Others like it at 4 in the morning, after a big night watching some live music on one of our more festive streets.

    David: For visitors looking for a classic dining experience, New Orleans has some wonderful options, as O’Donnell explains.

    There are two restaurateurRestaurantbetreiber(in)restaurateurs whose names you’ll see over and over. One’s Dickie Brennan and one is Ralph Brennan, and collectivelyzusammencollectively they own over 10 restaurants. You’ll find many of them in the French Quarter. So, if you see their name in front of the name of the restaurant, you’re in very good hands. Another branch of the family is a group that runs what’s called Commander’s Palace, and that’s in the Garden District. But they have a sister restaurant in the French Quarter, called SoBou, which is kind of like their naughtyhier: verführerischnaughty little cocktail-centricauf Cocktails spezialisiertcocktail-centric place. And they have great cocktails and just great food as well. And, you know, some people don’t want to get dressed up at all when they go out to dinner. Sometimes I don’t either, but I do appreciate the fact that we have a lot of venueLokalität, Ortvenues that really allow for that, where you can really to get done up (ifml.)sich fein machen, herausputzenget done up, your date gets done up. You really have a special experience at a very old-school place, where you kind of step back in time. And a couple of places I’d recommend would be, of course, Antoine’s, which is the oldest restaurant in New Orleans. It opened up in 1840. They have second- and third-generation waiters that work there, that take care of very specific families, and you have a relationship between the waiter in the family that goes on as the family gets older. The waiters really understand how grandma likes her martini and how grandpa likes his old-fashionedWhiskey-Cocktailold-fashioned, and that’s really kind of neatsuper, klasseneat. But even for someone, visiting, a visit to Antoine’s would be great. And another one is on Bourbon Street. It’s called Galatoire’s, which has been open since 1906. We jokingly call it the largest bar in the city that also serves food, but it is truly a restaurant. The staff is again tuxedoed up. Men are going to be required to wear coathier: Jackettcoats, closed-toedgeschlossenclosed-toed shoes, you know, they should be dressed up. But it’s worth doing that because it’s just an exceptional experience with exceptional service and it is just very unique to be able to still enjoy those types of dining experiences, particularly in the United States. You have lots of choices in Europe, but not so many here. And so Galatoire’s, Antoine’s, in addition to those other venues that I recommended, you’re definitely off to a great start.

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