The Big Easy Features in September
September 6, 2018
New - Taste of New Orleans Weekly Features
Cajun vs. Creole:Understanding Cuisine from the Big Easy
What’s Cooking This Fall
New September Features! Taste of New Orleans
We’ve decided to mix it up this month and introduce, not a full feature menu, but a month’s worth of weekly features inspired by the dishes of New Orleans, that Southern hub of culture and cuisine where anything goes. (If you’ve ever strolled down Bourbon Street, you know what that means!)
What’s taken you so long, you might ask? Well, in short, an opportune moment has arisen. A New Orleans native, Dennis Puissegur, recently joined our culinary team, and we thought, how better to introduce him than through the cuisine he knows so well? Dennis grew up in New Orleans, moved to New Iberia, Louisiana (the birthplace of Tabasco!) after Hurricane Katrina, and recently moved to Central PA with his wife and children to be close to the grandparents. He is the lead and consultant for this month’s features, bringing us insider information about the art of food in The Big Easy.
So… anything goes! But here are the features we'll be starting with tonight (Thursday, 9/6) to celebrate the cuisine of The Big Easy:
BBQ Shrimp, NOLA style $28
With corn maque choux
Nothing like the American BBQ tradition with which most of us are familiar, this dish does not have BBQ Sauce. New Orleans-style BBQ Shrimp (created by a NOLA “drunk”) sautés shrimp in butter, beer, rosemary and a slew of other tasty ingredients like the "holy trinity" and hot sauce (come in to find out!). Accompanied by dipping bread for capturing all that delicious liquid; served with Corn Maque Choux, another staple of Louisiana cooking, which might be best described as a savory, spicy creamed corn.
Pecan-Crusted “Redfish” with Crawfish Butter $28
With smothered collard greens
One thing Dennis taught us is that “menu law” doesn’t really exist in New Orleans. This means there is an intentional vagueness to the food terminology used. For instance, when you see “Redfish” on a menu down there, it could be any number of mild white fish in the snapper family, which our version is. And those smothered collards? Nope—they are not vegetarian. We’re cooking ours with bacon this time in the tradition of so many delicious New Orleans dishes. (Ham and bacon products are used so frequently in dishes that cooks sometimes refer to this component as “ham seasoning.”)
Bananas Foster Bread Pudding $7.50
Moist bread pudding, boozy Foster sauce (butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum, banana liqueur), and fresh banana -- fusing two delicious, requisite New Orleans desserts into one delightful end to your meal – thank you Dennis for bringing this idea North!.
Light rum, dark rum, and a host of juices, this sweet-tart cocktail might make you feel like you’re walking through the French Quarter! Served in a Hurricane glass, of course.
These delicious features begin at 5pm on Thursday, 9/6, and might be here for one week or maybe two (anything goes). Then we’ll change to some other fun NOLA dishes and keep going with NOLA-inspired features until the end of September. These and our future NOLA features will be available daily after 4:30pm in addition to our full lunch and dinner menus.
Cajun vs. Creole: Understanding the Cuisine from the Big Easy
Ok, we know when we hear the words Cajun and Creole, we’re talking about the food you can find in New Orleans. But what do these terms really mean, and how can you tell if you’re eating Cajun or Creole food?
Like so much having to do with New Orleans’ history and culture, the answer is loose and also complicated. However, the easiest way to understand the two terms is to understand the history of the different people to which these terms refer.
"Cajun" derives from “Les Acadians,” those French colonists who had settled in some of the far eastern parts of coastal Canada (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, to be specific) and who were forcibly removed by the British in the early 1700s. Many settled in Louisiana bayou country, and began to develop their own culture and culinary traditions.
"Creole," on the other hand, identified those of French and Spanish descent who ruled over New Orleans in the 1800s. It is decisively “higher brow” than Cajun, and because they had more resources and money, Creole cuisine traditionally includes a variety of more exotic and sometimes more expensive ingredients, such as different spices from various regions, butter, cream, and even tomatoes.
Even knowing about this very basic history lends an understanding to the differences between Cajun and Creole cuisines. Cajun is “country food,” while Creole is “city food.” Cajun is sometimes considered “low brow,” while Creole is considered “high brow.” Cajun dishes don’t typically have tomato, while Creole does, so Cajun food is “brown,” while Creole food is “red.”
These terms and the people they refer to have intermingled over time as so many other cultures do; therefore, it is no easy task to separate the two completely. The have become two sides of the same coin that represents New Orleans cuisine. Whatever differences there may, though, they are both full of flavor and history.
Much of the information here was gleaned from this Louisiana Travel article, if you are interested in learning a bit more. Entire books have been written on this subject, though, so this is only the tip of the ham hock!
What’s Cooking this Fall
As we approach fall, we look forward to the return of some of our favorite fall features. You can already taste fall at Harrison’s with the return of Butternut Squash Bisque, but more is on the way!
This year, we have decided to devote an entire month each to our Oktoberfest feature menu as well as our Autumn Harvest feature menu. This means that you can enjoy Oktoberfest features all October, and Autumn Harvest features (plus Thanksgiving – Take Home Ready) in November at Harrison’s.