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Louisiana on a plate

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Louisiana1
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Louisiana on a plate

story by: Anna Sarjeant

If it's not high in sugar, high in fat and high in finger-licking flavour, then it's sure as hell not Louisianan.

Welcome to the Deep South state where calorie loaded recipes are shaped by history and ancestral hand-me-downs; century old secrets and grandma’s scribbles. Ditch the diet and unbuckle your belt, these dishes are worth expanding your waistline for.

Breakfast / GRITS
For those of us who weren’t born in one of the five states that make up America’s Deep South, the idea of breakfast grits probably conjures the image of rock salt and stones. Something that will de-ice the road rather than banish your hunger. To the contrary, grits could be described as a pale cousin of polenta, made from dried and mature corn kernels, crushed into smaller granules. Thick and surprisingly creamy, they’re drowned in cheese, loaded with butter and topped with any sin of your own liking - sausage, bacon, a fried egg. But this is Louisiana, so make it a shrimp.

Lunch / CRAWFISH BOIL
How do you know if it’s crawfish season in Louisiana? Easy, you’ll see just as many signs for freshly boiled shellfish as you will Taco Bell. Alternatively you can check the calendar. Crawfish season spans from March to June, making the infamous crawfish boil a springtime ritual. This is a hands in, tails off kind of occasion; ditch the utensils and prepare to get your digits dirty. Plump crustaceans are boiled in a huge metal pot of seasoned water, then served with sweetcorn and potatoes, across long tables lined with sheets of newspaper. Wash it down with a frosted beer and lick your fingers clean.

Dinner / GUMBO
Look into your bowl of piping hot gumbo and the history of Southern food will unfold before you. From its defining characteristics deriving from traditional French techniques to its West African base and okra thickening, it’s probably far older than its Cajun spices indicate. As with many Southern recipes, gumbo has a rich heritage, appearing on tables across the Louisiana state for centuries, on both the tables of the poor as well as the wealthy. Described as a stew and best served with rice, gumbo is thinner than its Jambalayan relative but a robust little number nevertheless.

Dessert / CALAS FRIED RICE FRITTERS
So your dietician’s already screaming and now your dentist’s crying too. The desserts in Louisiana are the most delicious teeth rotters in the USA. Calas fried rice fritters are an almost forgotten Deep South treat, with a history that dates back to Africa and roots in Louisiana since 1880. Puffy, sweet and a little bit crisp, they’re made from a fritter mix, combined with cooked rice, flour, sugar and spices. And then they’re deep fried. A golden nugget that fell off the radar for a while, the calas’ comeback has been understandably well received. 

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