I became a cook more than 40 years ago when I got back from my honeymoon and my husband said “What’s for dinner?” I said to him, “I don’t know. Where we goin’?” It was so important to my husband that his family culture survive in our home. It was always about our mothers’ and grandmothers’ cooking.
Food is part of our our legacy and our culture. I want to show the world how easy our food is, and I cook like the locals cook everyday. Everyone can be a New Orleans cook, and I make it easy. Most of my meals don’t take over 30 minutes to prepare, but they have lots of flavor.
Our Food Culture
Food is a part of our culture in New Orleans and food means everything to us here. Down home New Orleans cooking is what our grandmas and mamas cooked. We have access to the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Pontchartrain and a lot of our food comes from there. When people are eating in New Orleans, they’re already talking about their next meal.
Food’s been part of our history since the beginning of the city 300 years ago when it was settled by France. Spain took control of New Orleans for 40 years, so we have a lot of French and Spanish influence in our food. We’re also a port, so there were people coming from all around the world back then to trade and live – from the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. We had people from all over cooking and sharing their recipes with each other, which is why we have the most unique food culture in the United States.
Creole & Cajun Food
Creole and Cajun food both come from Louisiana so they have a big impact on our New Orleans food. Creole food is a blend of French, Spanish, West African, Native American, Haitian, German, Italian, British and Irish food. Some of the Creole dishes I love to make are jambalaya, mirliton dressing, gumbo and crawfish étouffée. Cajun food comes from the Acadians who use a lot of crawfish, shrimp, andouille sausage and the Holy Trinity. The Cajun Trinity is onions, green peppers and celery….and lots of garlic, too.
I couldn’t boil water when I got married over 40 years ago. Lots of grandmothers and mothers taught me what I know. New Orleans food was made out of necessity. I learned not to make it complicated. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, and it’s easy.
A lot of us don’t use recipes. So I’ve put together Nina’s New Orleans Heirloom Recipes to preserve our food for generations to come. This isn’t my food, it’s our food. Go to my Heirloom Recipes page to find out how to cook some of these dishes!
My favorite New Orleans dish is a big plate of fresh boiled shrimp!