There’s not one city in America; I would say the world but, there’s no place other than New Orleans that dishes up some to the best cuisine than New Orleans. My city is a big ole flavorful pot of gumbo infused by different cultures such as African American, Native American, Caribbean, French, Spaniard, and Italians. But in my eyes Everything began with a group of American Indians who welcomed the French shortly after 1700, American Indians contributed corn and local shellfish, while Spaniards brought larger fish and the first European food preservation and preparation methods. In 1767, Spaniards adding their cuisine, which was influenced by the Moors incursions to Spain during the Crusades.
Spaniards brought Islenos Africans from the Canary Islands who settled in St Bernard District. Other African slaves arrived from the Caribbean who further developed okra, kale, rice, sugar and peanut growing methods on nearby plantations. Some became slave cooks or earned their freedom as independent caterers. This activity led to Gumbo and Jambalaya, among others. The French returned to control the land by 1800 before selling it in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase to the United States. If only briefly, the French reasserted their preference for the aristocratic presentation of excellent food and a taste for desserts. Those delightful pralines sure taste like an African cook’s response to a French sweet tooth.
Many free African cooks lived in the backyards of French Quarter homeowners, while slave cooks and independent caterers tended to many Garden District aristocrats of the 1800s and early 1900s. Italians arrived in the 1890s, bringing their gastronomic culture and imported sausage, fruit & vegetables to the mix. The tasty Muffaletta cold-cut sandwich of lettuce, tomato, sausage, and spices is a welcome result.
As the African American presence grew in the 1900s, their influence played a more significant role in Creole cuisine and the emerging hybrid known today as Creole-Soul Food. And today I’m showcasin some New Orleans Restaurants that are owned by African Americans some from New Orleans and some not. I now wonder if my faves are based on eating from the pot made by a New Orleanian…
Is it New Orleans cuisine if it’s not cooked by a New Orleanian? What if the chef is from New York, but he or she is cooking in a restaurant and following New Orleans recipes?
The things that make you go hmmmmm.
~~~ • ~~~
Lunch Date with Gumbo Tapado
- Cayenne Custom Foods (Vegan Options)