Saturday, September 03, 2005

Remembering Nawlins

A typical facade of the old French Quarter district of New Orleans.

One of the many Jazz bands playing permanently in bars and clubs around Bourbon Street

Beignets (ben-yay) fried dough topped with powdered sugar and served with cafe au lait with chicory.

It is sad to see New Orleans (Nawlins), the city I loved and had visited many times being destroyed and sunk underwater along with many of its residents. It is really horrific. When I saw the ugly scenes of the aftermath, I couldn't help but remember this vibrant and lively city that is unique in every sense and filled with culture and history. Preserving the memory of the city and its people and celebrating its past and mourning its present is what I feel at the moment. For most people on this part of the world and even people who have visited the US do not know anything about this amazing city.

The city which was founded by the French in the 17th century has been influenced by many cultures. It is a mixture of French, African, Spanish, British and American. You witness such fusion in the unique creole and cajun cuisines and music. New Orleans is also home to the world famous jazz music. A simple walk on Bourbon Street will allow you to experience jazz like never before. All the bars and jazz clubs have thier doors open to the street, so all passerbys can listen to the wonderful jazz music.

If I have to blog about New Orleans, this post will not do justice at all. My experiences in the crecent city cannot be described by words. I will just settle for a few tid bits of food info, and I will leave the rest for you to explore, on the net for time being.

Cajun: I am sure alot of you have heard of this, but never really cared to know what it means. Cajun is a distinct south Louisiana French culture which was developed from the blending of Acadian settlers from Nova Scotia in the late 1700s with other immigrants such as other Frenchmen coming from France and Haiti, Spanish, British, and Germans in the late 1800s. Cajun cuisine is a hearty form of cooking that is a combination of French and Southern cuisines with such dishes as Jambalaya.

Creole: a Creole is a native-born Orleanian of French and/or Spanish origin . Creole cuisines A mixture of French and Spanish cooking with undertones of African American and American Indian cultures. This cuisine tends to be less spicy and hearty than the cajun cuisine. It includes etouffe which is French for smothered and used to describe a stewed dish cooked with little or no liquid in a tightly closed pot; usually served over white rice.

Famous Foods

Gumbo: An African word for okra, gumbo is a Cajun or Creole dish made from a dark roux, vegetables such as okra, onions and tomatoes, and one or more fish or meat ingredients such as shrimp, chicken, sausage, ham, oysters, etc., usually served with rice.

Jambalaya: The Cajun version of paella, though more highly spiced. The only consistent ingredients among all of the jambalaya recipes are rice, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Ingredients used for jambalaya are ham, oysters, chicken, Andouille sausage, duck, shrimp and game birds.

Po'Boy: A po' boy is a traditional sandwich from Louisiana, similar to a hoagie or submarine sandwich. It consists of meat or seafood (typically fried) served on a baguette. A po' boy ordered "dressed" has lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.

Beignet: (pronounced "ben-yay") square donuts with no holes dusted with powdered sugar and sold in coffee shops, mostly in the central business district, and the French quarter. They are eaten mainly as a breakfast item and with cafe' aulait'. (strong chicory coffee with hot milk). It is made popular by Cafe du Monde in New Orleans.

Update: Samanthaq8 was kind enough to point out that I had missed out crawfish and all the amazing crawfish dishes. It seems she is more knowledgeable than I am hehe. Thanks Sam.

Crawfish: This is a small lobster like crustacean the size of shrimp that lives in fresh water areas of Louisiana. It is also called crawdad. Famous dishes inlclude crawfish etouffe and crawfish bisque. The taste is sweet and buttery just like lobster.

Crawfish Etouffe

1 stick butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
1 pound peeled crawfish tails
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped green onions

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and saute until the vegetables are wilted, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the crawfish, garlic, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the crawfish for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dissolve the flour in the water. Add the crawfish mixture. Season with salt and cayenne. Stir until the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Stir in the parsley and green onions and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Serve over steamed rice.


Blogger La La said...

Oh the beignet looks soo good...

9/04/2005 12:14:00 AM  
Blogger samanthaq8 said...

you forgot to mention the famous crawfish dishes including the crawfish bisque, crawfish etouffee, the crawfish cornbread..;)

9/04/2005 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

samantha you are absolutely right!! How did I forget that, amazing crawfish! ok I will update it and give credit to you :p

9/04/2005 12:40:00 AM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

janjoon tell me you have tried it :p

9/04/2005 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger samboose said...

Ok I'm stuck at work and my mouths totally watering.... Your blogs have that affect on me;)

9/04/2005 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Salted-Caramel said...

The news is just heart-breaking. It's so sad.

9/04/2005 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger samanthaq8 said...

your welcome equalizer..i'm going to try to make the etouffee dish... using king shrimps or maybe the shamiya gourmet place has crawfish??

9/04/2005 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Samboose: They sell those portable electric stoves, I think it will go well with your desktop items :p

Salty: Yeah it is so sad. It really shows you that even in the rcihest country on the planet there is poverty. At the end of the day it boils down to that. It is those that did not have any forms of transportation and could not afford it that were stuck in that area. It is the government responsibilty to make sure that such evacuation happens, no matter what the cost was. This is why the issue of racisim was brought about, since most of those people are African Americans.

9/04/2005 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Samatha: I don't think you would find any crawfish in Kuwait. Actually I haven't seen it anywhere except Louisiana. King prawns? mmmm it might work or simply buy fresh lobster or lobster tail.

9/04/2005 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger samboose said...

I love lobster.... I don't remember the last time I had a good lobster.

I miss Red's not fancy smancy but it's GOOOOOOOOD!!!

9/05/2005 07:41:00 AM  
Blogger Wild_Mare said...


I should try some of your dishes you made . I will prepare something for tonight or maybe this weekend .

it's 12.31 pm now .. can't wait to go home and have my lunch :|

9/05/2005 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mama Fusla said...

You mentioned Great Jazz Scene, Food, Parties and friendliness.
How about the great Voodoo Shops, 7asafa 3alaihom wallah! What will we do without the Voodoo?

wv: grzra

9/05/2005 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Mama Fusla said...

wooooops, correction! Equalizer seems to be workin his Voodoo!
Got all the women going, emmmmm, yummmmmmmm, oooooh, aaaaaaah, so good, sooooo amazing, I love it, I want it!

9/05/2005 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Mama: shshshshs don't blow my cover :p

9/05/2005 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger The Don ® said...

it hurts me to admit that I have never been there.. :(

9/05/2005 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

The Don: its ok bro, I hope it gets back the way its used to, but like we say here "iljana min ghair nas matendas" It is really sad. If you want another tip for a city in the US, I'm da man :)

9/05/2005 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger Jewaira said...

Unique post and very informative. Keep up the great work :)

9/07/2005 08:16:00 AM  

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