A Culinary Adventure through the Summer Festivals of North America: New Orleans Jazz Fest

Though plenty of international festivals, including the Calgary Stampede which we will feature later in this article series, still embrace our most basic culinary appetites – fried, salty, greasy carnival food – the popularity of the modern, often “gourmet” food truck has undeniably changed the landscape of what we eat at festivals and how we eat it. Laneway Festival – whose Australia legs kick off today in Adelaide – is no stranger to this either.

Those who once turned their nose up at the idea of eating festival food, will now join the queues to enjoy a festival’s unique, often once-a-year only treats. On our North American travels throughout the last 12 months, we took in four festivals through the US and Canada to bring you some of the highlights of a voyage that was a culinary as it was musical. And hopefully it will give some ideas to Australia’s own Summer festivals… and the opportunity for you to travel overseas in 2016!

Part One

New Orleans Jazz Festival
April/May – New Orleans, LA

Summer starts early in the American South, and it’s here we start our travels at the iconic New Orleans Jazz Festival. As any local will tell you, the Jazz Fest is as much a food festival as it is a music festival, with what feels like hundreds of stalls spread out amongst the massive festival site – each stall showcasing a different taste of local cuisine. And some of these dishes are ones made just for the festival each year – which keeps the crowds coming back for more.

This is the famous Crawfish Monica, an icon of Louisiana cuisine in its own right. It’s one of the biggest sellers at the festival and is delicious – a creamy pasta filled with creole spices and crawfish meat. It’s something you can’t leave New Orleans without trying, and the festival gives you the perfect opportunity to enjoy a healthy dose while you enjoy some of the world’s finest music!

The grilled steak pita is another festival favourite, stuffing this pita pocket with onions and sliced, beautifully cooked steak. It’s a dish you’ll come back for time and time again.

Not everything is a local flavour – if you look hard enough you’ll find some Japanese cuisine and this seafood noodle dish certainly did the trick.

But let’s be real – it’s all about the local cuisine, and you can’t leave New Orleans without a classic “Po Boy”. Basically a fancy name for meat in a roll. Whether it’s pulled pork (pictured), soft shell crab or a pile of brisket, the BBQ flavours are to die for – but the addition of hot sauce is not optional. Even with the sun beating down,  you’ll get addicted to that Louisiana Hot Sauce.

Not sure what you want? Why not try one of the many combo plates on offer! You see, many stalls offer a few different varieties of their specialities, so when you can’t decide on one or the other, they’ll give you the option to have some of all three for just a couple of dollars more!  Here, oysters have been served three ways – and it’s damn good.

I guess the point we’re getting to here is that you have a ridiculous amount of options for food. There is almost no equal to the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

Getting There:

Getting to New Orleans is best via Dallas with Qantas or through Los Angeles with Virgin, Delta or United, and then connecting through to another airline. Usually you’ll find Southwest have the best options to New Orleans, and are often cheaper than Delta or United – we recommend comparing the rest through services like SkyScanner, however note that Southwest usually is unavailable through those programs and will need to be searched for separately.