ANDOUILLE [AHN-doo ee]: A garlicky
smoked Cajun sausage made from beef and pork, which is sliced into
rounds, sauteed and served with red beans, greens, gumbo and other
BANANAS FOSTER: A dish made of bananas and rum, flamed and served over vanilla ice cream. It was created at Brennan's Restaurant to honor Owen Brennan's friend, Dick Foster, who in the 1950s was vice chairman of the Vice Committee in charge of cleaning up the French Quarter.
BEIGNETS [BEN-yays]: Puffy squares of deep-fried dough dusted with powdered sugar. Traditional fare at New Orleans coffee houses, most notably Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter. They taste better than they sound, but be warned: You may end up with more sugar on your clothes than on the French doughnuts.
BLACKENED REDFISH: A dish made by searing seasoned redfish fillets in a smoking hot skillet popularized by Chef Paul Prudhomme. As the dish's fame grew in the late 1980s, stiff limits had to be placed on redfish catches to prevent the disappearance of the species from Gulf Coast waters. These limits inspired creative chefs to start "blackening" everything from chicken to veal in order to continue to cash in on the craze.
BOUDIN [BOO-dan]: A Cajun white sausage made with rice, ground pork, chicken and vegetables, ranging from mild to hot.
CAFÉ AU LAIT [KAH-FAY oh-lay]: Hot coffee mixed with boiling milk; not "cafe ole" as The New York Times once wrote.
CAJUN/CREOLE COOKING: Yes, there is a difference between these two cuisines. Cajun food is the earthy, robust creation of fishermen and farmers in the bayou country of southwest Louisiana, which remains the only place you'll find Cajun food that has not been refined and urbanized to within an inch of its life for restaurant customers. Creole food is more citified, often a shade more delicate, in both preparation and presentation. Creole food - the cuisine of New Orleans and the Mississippi River region - also enjoys Caribbean influences not found in Cajun food. But Creole cooks often use the same meats, seafoods and seasonings used in the bayou country, and the fullness of the flavors are similar. For more information, check out our history of Cajun/Creole cookery.
CHICORY: A plant whose leaves are used in salads and whose roots are dried, roasted and ground for
mixing with coffee for thickness and special flavor. The chicory was originally added to stretch the coffee beans
but it also gives the coffee a little bite. New Orleans coffee blenders are known for incorporating chicory into
their dark, rich coffees. Non-natives might find the taste to be a bit bitter.
COURTBOUILLON [COO-bee yawn]: A spicy tomato sauce usually served over fish.
CRAWFISH: The guests of honor at many New Orleans springtime gatherings, served on back issues of The Times-Picayune right from the huge cauldrons of spicy boiling water they share with new potatoes and half ears of corn. Crusty French bread is served on the side. You can impress the natives by pinching the tails and sucking the heads (although, admittedly, this is an acquired taste). You may know these local delicacies as "crayfish," but no New Orleanian would ever use that term. The local nickname is "mudbugs."
CREOLE MUSTARD: It's a little more pungent than American mustard because the mustard seeds are coarsely ground rather than pulverized.
CREOLE TOMATOES: Vine-ripened tomatoes grown in southeast Louisiana. The large tomatoes are known for their eccentric shapes and pinker-than-usual color. They are available from late spring through summer.
ÉTOUFFÉE: A dish in which seafood or meat (shrimp and crawfish etouffee are local favorites) is smothered with seasonings and herbs. It is similar to stewing but with less water.
FILÉ [FEE-lay] : Powdered sassafras leaves used to thicken gumbo.
GUMBO [GUHM-boh: A Creole-Cajun soup usually made from a roux, seafood, okra, tomatoes and filé; it can also be made with other ingredients such as chicken or sausage. It is served over rice.
HOT SAUCE: You can buy it at your grocery store back home, but it won't have the same sentimental value and you won't find it in gallon containers. The grandaddy is Tabasco, which comes from Cajun country, but there are many other blends.
HURRICANE MIX: Mix a packet of this powder with some water and booze and relive a truly great New Orleans hangover.
JAMBALAYA [JUM-buh li yuh]: A Cajun rice dish usually made with seafood and sausage; a close cousin of a Spanish paella.
KING CAKE: A sweetroll-like cake made in a ring served during Carnival season (Jan. 6 - Epiphany or "Kings' Day" - through Mardi Gras). It contains a plastic doll, and the person who finds the doll in his or her piece of cake must provide the king cake on the next occasion. For more information, see the king cake history.
MAKIN' GROCERIES: Going grocery shopping.
MIRLITON: [MER-lee tawn] A tropical, pear-shaped squash popular in Louisiana. They are often stuffed with cheese, meat or seafood.