Of Beignets, Boudin, and Dirty Rice

Many of the foods in New Orleans are unique to the region and consequently may be unfamiliar. This list that will help you navigate local menus:

andouille (ahn-doo-we): a spicy Cajun sausage made with pork

bananas Foster:  bananas sautéed in liqueur, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter, drenched in rum, set ablaze, served over vanilla ice cream

barbequed shrimp: not actually grilled or BBQ-sauced, but a butter-soaked, garlicky, pepper-shot peel-and-eat Gulf specialty

beignet (bin-yay): a big, puffy, deep-fried, hole-free doughnut, liberally sprinkled with powdered sugar—the more sugar, the better

boudin (boo-dan): Cajun liver-and-rice sausage of varying spice levels

café brûlot (cah-fay brew-low): coffee, spices, and liqueurs, served flaming

crawfish: a tiny, lobsterlike creature common locally and eaten in every conceivable way, including boiled whole with spices and peeled by hand

debris: the rich, juicy bits of meat that fall off during roasting and carving

dressed: A “dressed” po’ boy comes with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and sometimes pickles.

étouffée (ay-too-fay): a Cajun stew (usually containing crawfish or shrimp) served with rice

filé (fee-lay): ground sassafras leaves, frequently used to thicken gumbo

gumbo: a thick, spicy soup of poultry, seafood, and/or sausage, with okra in a roux base, served with rice. Gumbo z’herbes, a Good Friday tradition, eschews meat for greens

holy trinity: onions, bell peppers, and celery: the base of much Creole and Cajun cooking

Hurricane: a local drink of rum and passion-fruit punch

jambalaya (jum-ba-lie-ya): a simmer of yellow rice, sausage, seafood, poultry, vegetables, and spices

lagniappe (lan-yap): a little something extra: a bonus freebie

mirliton (mur-li-tone): a pear-shaped squash also called chayote

muffuletta (moo-foo-let-ta or moo-fuh-lot-ta): a mountainous sandwich made with Italian deli meats, cheese, and olive salad, piled onto a specially made seeded round bread

oysters Rockefeller: oysters on the half shell in a creamy spinach sauce, so called because Rockefeller was the only name rich enough to match the taste

po’ boy, po-boy, poor boy: a sandwich on long French bread, similar to submarines and hoagies; often filled with fried seafood or roast beef, or famously with French fries and gravy, they can include most anything—the story goes that they were originally a free sustenance for striking transit workers, those “poor boys.”

pralines (praw-leens): a sweet confection of brown sugar and pecans

rémoulade: a spicy sauce, usually over shrimp, made of mayonnaise, boiled egg yolks, horseradish, Creole mustard, and lemon juice

roux: a mixture of flour and fat that’s slowly cooked over low heat, used to thicken stews, soups, and sauces

Sazerac: the official cocktail of New Orleans, consisting of rye whiskey (or sometimes cognac), sugar, and bitters

shrimp Creole: shrimp in a tomato sauce seasoned with what’s known around town as the “holy trinity:” onions, bell peppers, and celery

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.