As a travel enthusiast, it has always been a dream to travel to all the fifty states in our country. After Texas, the next state in my bucket list was Louisiana. Before buying my plane ticket to New Orleans, I contacted Alex, a friend I had made on Facebook sometime before, to show me around the city and also the best food spots available, which she agreed. So I jumped on a plane and flew to New Orleans, arriving in the afternoon and checked into the Henry Howard Hotel, a beautiful boutique white mansion built in the 1800s and which has managed to maintain its original structure since its inception. Just off the courtyard, I stayed in room 106, which had a giant fireplace, musical instruments hung on the walls, antique drawers, and an entrance hall. This wholesome and beautiful accommodation was just the curtain-raiser for what I just about to experience in the sprawling and vibrant city of New Orleans.
The day after, Alex met me at my hotel, and the first thing that she said was, “I am taking you on a swamp tour so that you can see some gators.” This was a great idea. However, whenever I thought about Louisiana, food was the first thing that came to mind. Growing up, I had a favorite movie known as ‘chef,’ which had a scene where a food truck was set up in New Orleans, and the cast would try beignet in a café in the french quarter, known as café Du Monde. I politely declined the offer to see some alligators and requested if she could take me to café Du Monde. We took a short walk towards Charles street, which was just a corner from the hotel, and jumped on a tram that took us from the garden district to the French quarter for $25.
In café Du Monde, the moment that I had been waiting for such a long time had finally arrived. The waiter dropped off two plates of beignets and two cups of coffee. The beignets had a whole layer of icing. Despite Alex being a Louisiana native, she had never tried these delicacies before. “They are so good. Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t tasted these before,” she said. No sooner had I had a bite in my food than a band started playing outside. Music was playing outside, people were marching and dancing, I had just taken a bite of my first good food, and all I thought about at that point was how much I loved the city.
I later noticed how the menu had differentiated sections of Creole and Cajun foods. I asked Alex the major difference between the two, and she said, “to a connoisseur like me, I differentiate them as the urban Creole cooking of New Orleans and the rustic Cajun food of the Acadiana wards since the Creole food is thought of as a little high temple or highborn in contrast to Cajun cuisine.” After such a sumptuous breakfast, we strolled down to the french market where we ate praline, a snack that tasted like fudge and had peanuts. For lunch, Alex recommended that we get into ‘Parkway bakery,’ famous for its delicious sandwiches. We ordered a Shrimp Po Boy sandwich with deep-fried pickles, which did not disappoint and later visited a bunch of bizarre and unique museums.
For dinner, we went to a Creole restaurant called ‘Gumbo shop.’ We got the seafood okra gumbo, a dish that I wanted to try after seeing it in various menus on most of the places we had visited, shrimp creole and crawfish etouffee. All these dishes were seafood stews and had rice as a staple ingredient. They were rich in flavor and had a gravy texture, and the portion sizes were so big such that we both struggled to finish the meals. Seeing how interested I was in the gumbo dish, Alex invited me to visit her grandmother’s house the next day for a lesson on how to prepare the dish. She described her as the perfect Cajun cook in all of Louisiana, and I was eager to see this famous dish’s preparation techniques and ingredients.
On the next day, Alex gave me directions to her grandmother’s house, which was just out of town. After greeting her family members, she took me in, and we went into the kitchen for my much-awaited gumbo lesson. Her grandmother was a lively person and had an aura of joy and kindness, which calmed me as I felt extremely nervous. Soon afterward, she started cooking. She explained, “first, you melt butter in a pot and sautee the onions until they turn brown. You then add garlic, celery, green pepper, and any other spice that you have.” When it started to cook down, she added okra, then the smoked sausage, chicken meat, Rotel, Worcestershire, and liquid smoke in succession, which she stirred for a long time possibly to mix all the ingredients. Afterward, she poured six cups of water and added her chicken stock. She left it to boil, and then the broth simmered well for an hour. Just about 15 minutes before serving, she added filé powder, green onions, and shrimp and checked the seasonings and salt. Afterward, as she smiled, she advised me that, “to maximize the Gumbo’s taste, it is better to leave it until the second day after its reheated and simmered. However, any good Cajun knows it is a sacrilege to add tomatoes to Gumbo, but I will add some in the form of Rotel and call it a ‘Creole-ish.’ Whether your palate prefers the urban Creole or the rustic peppery Cajun cuisine, there is always something good to eat in Louisiana. And thus, the great debate continues.
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50 States, 1 Journey: My Trip to Louisiana - Essay Sample. (2023, Aug 31). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/50-states-1-journey-my-trip-to-louisiana
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