New Orleans is famous for many things – jazz, voodoo, history, and most of all food. With the French, Southern United States, and African influence, New Orleans has some foods that you can’t find anywhere else. As a result, this list is just the tip of the iceberg of what you could introduce to your child, but it is a great place to start. NOLA’s food is an impressive mosaic of sweet, spicy and salty items.
First stop, sweets. Beignets are literally “fritters,” and are deep fried pastries served with powdered sugar on top. They are traditionally eaten for breakfast or snacks and are made hot to order, sometimes stuffed with custard. The delightful beignet was brought to Louisiana in the 18th century from France. The original often included banana. You can get them just about anywhere, but the best-known place to get a beignet in NOLA is the world famous Café du Monde.
If you have never tried Bananas Foster, you should put it on your list immediately! The dessert is bananas and ice cream, with a sauce made from brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, dark rum, and banana liqueur. It was created in 1951 by chef Paul Blangé at Brennan’s Restaurant. Bananas were a significant import in the area coming from South America. Because of this, many chefs were trying to think of ways to use these excess bananas, and Paul Blangé created this delicious, sweet recipe that was soon adopted by other restaurants.
Gumbo is a dish iconic to New Orleans. It consists of broth, meat, and garnishings of celery, bell peppers, and onion. Traditionally, one serves Gumbo over rice. There are many different types of meat you can use, including chicken, sausage, shrimp, and okra. Also, gumbo can be anywhere from mild to incredibly spicy in its broth.
Stuffed Oysters are perfect for the salt lover in your family. Pretty much any seafood dish is going to be found in New Orleans because of its location near the Gulf of Mexico, but oysters are a special treat. These Gulf oysters are plumper, softer, and meatier than their Northern counterparts, which makes them perfect for stuffing or eating a po’ boy sandwich. The Acme Oyster House has been around since 1910 and is a favorite place. In the same vein, there is also Drago’s Restaurant, where you can find a variety of seafood.
A muffuletta is a large, round, flat bread similar to focaccia. The muffuletta sandwich has some European origins. The story is, at Central Grocery in the French Quarter, Sicilian Farmers would come in and order an olive salad and a variety of deli meats and cheeses and then eat them all separately. Because of this, the owner of the Central Grocery suggested cutting open the loaf and putting the ingredients on the bread. Thus, the Muffuletta was born! Because of its Sicilian roots, it’s similar to the Italian sub, with meats, cheeses, and olive salad. You can still get an authentic Muffuletta at the Central Grocery in the French Quarter.
Yes, you read that correctly, alligator bites. as in bite-sized pieces of an alligator. They roam everywhere in the southern United States in the bayou, so it’s only natural that people would figure out a way to fry them up and eat them. Rather than through hunting, alligator meat comes from alligator farms, and there are some places that only use the tails of alligators to make their products. Most people agree that alligator tastes like chewy chicken, so it’s not an entirely unusual taste. However, it’s filled with texture and interesting for your kids with autism to experience. It is also typically fried, which most people will enjoy. There are many places to get alligator, and a Yelp search will give you some great choices to try with your child.
Autism Travel Tips:
- As with any excursion involving food, be aware if your child is a picky eater or has dietary restrictions. Always double check the ingredients before you sit down to eat a meal with your family.
- Bring heartburn medication if your child has digestive issues. Foods like the gumbo can be incredibly fatty.