New Orleanians are obsessed with food. Over lunch they're likely talking about dinner. Ask where to get the best gumbo, and you'll spark a heated debate among city natives. Everyone, no matter what neighborhood they're from or what they do for a living, wants a plate of red beans and rice on Monday, has a favorite spot for a roast beef po'boy, and holds strong opinions about the proper
flavor for a shaved ice "sno-ball."
The menus of New Orleans's restaurants reflect the many cultures that have contributed to this always-simmering culinary gumbo pot over the last three centuries. It's easy to find French, African, Spanish, German, Italian, and Caribbean influences—and increasingly Asian and Latin American as well. The speckled trout amandine at Antoine's could have been on the menu when the French Creole institution opened in 1840. Across the Mississippi River on the West Bank, Tan Dinh serves fragrant bowls of pho soup that remind New Orleans's large Vietnamese population of the home they left in the 1970s. And at MiLa, husband-and-wife team Slade Rushing and Allison Vines-Rushing apply the cutting-edge culinary techniques they learned in New York City to the dishes they grew up eating in Mississippi and Louisiana.
For years New Orleans paid little attention to food trends from the East and West coasts. Recently, however, the city has taken more notice of the "latest things." In Orleans Parish you'll now find gastropubs, gourmet burgers, and numerous small-plate specialists. In a town where people track the crawfish season as closely as the pennant race, no one has to preach the virtues of eating seasonally. New Orleans is still one of the most exciting places in America to eat. There's no danger that will change.
New Orleans is known for lots of local flavor, from pralines and po'boys to beignets and chicory coffee. But for a true taste of Mardi Gras...
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