Monday, May 16, 2011

Travel Tastes, New Orleans: Jazz Fest Food Booths

One of the main reasons I ventured to the New Orleans Jazz Fest was to stuff myself to my hearts’ content with Cajun & Creole cuisine. At the fairgrounds where the festival is held, several areas are lined with food booths boasting such delicacies as alligator pie, stuffed shrimp and crawfish monica. I wolfed down other treats (gumbo, jambalaya, broccoli pies), but those three were my picks of the trip.

Alligator meat (left) is known to be tough and gamey, but spiced and fried in a buttery phyllo dough it was melt in your mouth tender. This was my shining moment of my tasting, as an alligator pie is definitely not something I would have tried several years ago. My father is still impressed by how many new things I’m not only willing but thrilled to try. This one was no exception.

Drinking beer all day in the humid heat of the bayou is draining enough, but add the most fattening, fried and heavy foods you can imagine and you’ll understand my laziness throughout the trip. I ordered stuffed shrimp to discover that “stuffed” meant stuffed with spicy crab meat, and the “shrimp” was deep fried.

You know when you bite into something and you have to shut your eyes to shut out all the other senses? Where a little shiver runs down your spine and your taste buds start singing the rapture? Yeah, kind of like that.

Crawfish Monica comes from the mind and kitchen of Chef Pierre Hilzim and named for his wife, Monica. It was once only available at the stands of the Jazz Fest but is now sold at a handful of grocery stores across the south. I found a recreation recipe here that explains why this pasta is so rich and creamy: an entire stick of butter. Toss in some tender crawfish, garlic, half 'n' half, onions & Cajun seasoning and you've got it! (I have a feeling nothing tastes quite like the original though.)

Now you might understand why I'm on a health kick currently, reminding my body that this kind of indulgence is for vacations only! I hope to add a new section of healthy recipes to Culinary Therapy in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!


Todd said...

Yeah you rite.

Have you ever tried the soft shell crab po' boy? Outrageous. Also: cochon de lait po boy, crawfish enchilada, sausage bread... This post obviously made me rather hungry.

Todd said...

I also very dearly love the crawfish monica.

Rachel said...

Yessss I tried the crawfish enchilada and sausage bread. Not either of the po boys, though. Seems I need to take another trip, eh?

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