The table is set for Thanksgiving and the oysters, shrimp, gumbo, jambalaya, cornbread, mirliton, sweet potatoes, green beans, crab cakes, and more are all displayed. Looking for the turkey? You might find turducken or fried turkey on the table, but we rarely conform to the regular Thanksgiving traditions here in New Orleans, preferring instead to elaborate on the basic foods and make our own improvements. Turducken is one of these improvements; it involves a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey and can be purchased at some local grocers. Or, if you have 2 days or so to spare, you can also create one yourself. Hard work, but those who know say it’s worth it.
We continue the improvements by attacking basic stuffing and instead serving stuffed mirliton, a type of squash grown in southern Louisiana which is stuffed with bread crumbs, shrimp or crab, and loads of seasoning. A good friend of mine promised to bring me back a stuffed mirliton from his grandma this Thanksgiving, claiming it is the most delicious blend of textures, baked to perfection. Another local described her mother-in-law’s shrimp and mirliton casserole which due to its popularity is a staple at all of her family’s holiday dinners. Mirlitons can be found when you are out and about making groceries around the holidays. Pick some up the next time you’re in the store and let us know which mirliton recipes you do and don’t like.
Louisiana is known as the Sportsmen’s paradise and this is evidently displayed on most Thanksgiving tables. If you enjoy swamp food, you can pick up some turtle, gator, catfish, or even nutria (for the more adventurous) to include in your feast. Turtle soup and friend gator might be the two most obvious dishes from the swamp, but how about some smothered nutria? According to the guide on my recent tour of Manchac Swamp, nutria is the most undiscovered delectable dish from the swamps. If you’re intrigued by the swamps and the edible as well as inedible species which thrive there, be sure not to miss the History Channel’s Swampsgiving special, which aired in November and provided an inside look as to how the gator hunters of Swamp People prepare for their huge meals.
The average American consumes 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat during a typical Thanksgiving feast. It can be exhausting to make that much food, so thankfully many local grocery stores offer catering options for Thanksgiving. Be sure to order in advance in order to save yourself some trouble. You can order almost all of the foods discussed here from a grocery store near you.
Dining Out is a popular option for Thanksgiving
The National Restaurant Association estimates that 30 million Americans will be dining out at restaurants this Thanksgiving. In addition to offering take out kits for full Thanksgiving meals, many of New Orleans’ most famous restaurants, especially those in the Quarter, remain open for Thanksgiving. No matter if you choose to cook your whole feast on your own, order some from a restaurant or a grocer, or go out to eat this Thanksgiving, make sure to incorporate some local dishes into your meal or you will be missing out on tried and true feasting favorites treasured and eagerly anticipated by many New Orleanians.
Written by guest Blogger Taylor Geiger.