My first experience with any type of Cajun food was at Popeye's here in Texas. I ordered chicken tenders with a side of red beans and rice. I instantly fell in love with the red beans and rice, so I decided to venture out and try some other Cajun classics. My next run-in with Cajun food would come in Baton Rouge while my family and I visited Louisiana State University for the first time. We ate at several great restaurants and I was instantly hooked. Fast forward to my freshman year at LSU and I was finally able to try all the typical Louisiana foods.
The 11 foods I have listed are some of my favorites from everything I tried throughout the year.
Without a doubt, jambalaya is my favorite out of everything I tried this year. It is primarily made with chicken or pork, sausage, and rice. I prefer the Cajun style, which is brown in color, but there is also a Creole style that is made with tomatoes instead. This dish is available at most restaurants, but there are several places in Baton Rouge that specialize in just making jambalaya. My personal favorite is Pot and Paddle, check it out if you're ever in town.
Crawfish is what everyone thinks about when they think of Louisiana cuisine. Even though crawfish are popular in Texas too, the first crawfish boil I attended was at Mike's Bar in Tigerland. Crawfish are slightly difficult to peal at first, but after a few it becomes easy to reach the tail meat. The crawfish I had were pretty spicy which gave them some really nice flavor.
3. Fried Boudin
To be honest, I was a little worried to try boudin because it sounded nasty to me. It's just a pork sausage with rice stuffed inside, so I really don't know what I was worried about. Anyway, I gave it a try and now it is one of my favorite appetizers to order at restaurants. Once again, if you're in Baton Rouge, Tony's Seafood Market makes some great fried boudin.
4. Fried Alligator
This is another food I was a little uncertain about trying. I was with some friends at The Chimes one night when we decided to try the fried alligator. I ended up really liking it and if you were wondering, yes it does taste like chicken. It has a similar taste to chicken, but a different texture. It also tastes great with some ketchup.
This is another classic in Louisiana. It's basically a soup, but with rice instead of noodles. The first gumbo I tried was made with chicken and duck, which was a great combination. It's a great dish for when (or if) it gets cold down in the bayou.
6. Red Beans and Rice
Like I mentioned, red beans and rice was one of the first foods I tried. Many restaurants offer it as a side dish or even a meal, so I can usually enjoy red beans and rice with my catfish or jambalaya. My favorite place to eat red beans and rice is The Chimes right by campus. Theirs is even tastier because they add some pieces of andouille sausage, which adds even more flavor. Overall, red beans and rice is always a go to for me.
7. Soft Shell Crab
The first time I noticed soft shell crab on a menu was at Juban's in Baton Rouge. I ordered the soft shell crab sandwich and was pleasantly surprised. Later on, in my biology class, I learned that soft shell crabs are just normal crabs but they shed their shell and are in the process of growing a new one. They are captured during this process and can be eaten whole because they obviously lack their hard shell. It was honestly kind of cool and disgusting to be eating an entire crab.
8. Dirty Rice
I can thank The Five dining hall on campus for my new liking of dirty rice. They served it numerous times with different meals and I started liking the dish. Basically, dirty rice just consists of rice, ground beef, peppers, and onions. It has a great flavor and is a great main dish or side dish. I'm usually not a fan of peppers and onions, but this slightly changed my preferences.
If you ever visit New Orleans, beignets are a must. It is simply a fried pastry coated with a layer of powdered sugar. It is really reminiscent of a funnel cake, but slightly more elegant. They are also wonderful when paired with coffee or my personal favorite, hot chocolate.
10. King Cake
Before I came to Louisiana I didn't have the slightest idea of what Mardi Gras was besides that tons of people go to New Orleans to party for several days. This year I got to experience the holiday firsthand and it was amazing. King Cake one of the main traditions of the holiday and I definitely had my fair share of the treat. It's almost like a cinnamon roll with icing and I promise it can become addicting.
11. Tony Chachere's
Not a food, but it is something I think every Louisiana resident has in their cabinet. This seasoning tastes amazing and spices up anything and everything. I bought some to use at home this summer and I can say it works especially great for eggs and fries.