...it is not only alligators, swamps, giant enormous black grasshoppers, and tangly Spanish moss... Louisiana is also the home to absolutely fantastic food from the Cajun and Creole traditions. Seafood abounds, of course, with New Orleans being situated near the mouth of the Mississippi River. Eating in New Orleans is kind of like bird-watching at Cape May - you just can't miss good food (or the migrating birds). It is just everywhere as long as you stay away from the very few chain restaurants and hotels downtown. We were mostly in the French Quarter and the Arts and Warehouse district and ate really well. What we ate? This!
Mmm, this was fantastic. Here you have all the goodness of New Orleans food nearly on one plate from Mulate's, a Cajun restaurant. (= Go there! Eat!) Crawfish tails, stuffed crab, blackened fish, shrimp on a skewer, potato salad, deep-fried octopus, deep-fried oysters, baked potato with cheese, oh and some vegetables in a corner as an afterthought. This is not veggie heaven, this is seafood heaven, as you can see. In New Orleans, even the botanists don't care about food plants. I probably ate more oysters in 4 days than I have eaten in the last 4 years during this trip...
This is the sign outside Grand Isle Restaurant and oyster bar. What is Hog's Head Cheese? Wikipedia will tell you, and I think I will pass on it after reading about it. But the oysters were fresh like cauhgt an hour ago at this place! :
"Head cheese is not a cheese but a terrine or meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig (sometimes a sheep or cow), and often set in aspic. The parts of the head used varies, but the brain, eyes, and ears are usually removed." (link)
The late snack oysters we had at Grand Isle. Moist and fresh! So raw that you nearly could feel them wiggle in your mouth. People that don't eat oysters are wimps (I think) and don't realize what amazing thing they are missing.
At Ernst Cafe we sat outside in 30-degree (Celsius) / 90-degree humid heat and drank cold beer until after midnight. The whole place was just run by one bartender...
Louisiana has a million hot sauces. Well, maybe not, but at least a million bottles. Tabasco is made here. As is Dave's Insanity Hot Sauce, Hog's Breath Hot Sauce, and many other hot sauces with names that can't be written on a family blog. If you ever wondered about the original Tabasco hot sauce - yes, it is kosher and an unopened bottle lasts at least 5 years. More hot sauce information here.
Fried alligator - we just had to order this. It was good, very moist and tender, white like chicken, doesn't taste like fish, and less stringy than chicken. But I don't think I would like to live on it for years. On the other hand, I rather eat than be eaten. Each year over 75 000 alligators are captured in Louisiana (90% of them being male) from a population of over 2 million alligator. Some alligators are called 'Elvis' when they are small, at least if they are kept on boats as pets for tourists. So, we had an Elvis sighting in the form of an alligator - maybe a reincarnation of the real Elvis?
You realize you are in the South (of USA) when you see this magazine at the airport, Garden & Guns. I have never seen it in the northern parts of the US, but sure, gardening is truly a kind of micro-warfare against deer (8 feet of plastic deerfence and no deer in the garden), Japanese beetles (feromone traps), diseases (water and nutrients, and then whatever dies off is just life), blister beetles (handpick and drown), hawkmoth caterpillars (which I let live, so they can get parasitized and release more larvae-killers), slugs (sigh - get to handpick and drown them), rabbits and groundhogs (keep them out with fencing)... ok, turns out I don't need a gun for my gardening. The magazine has a strange (for me) mix of shotgun reviews, pie recipes, and anecdotal stories from southern gardens. I understand hunting magazines, but not gardening with guns.