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beignets

When it comes to things to see and do in New Orleans, Louisiana, visitors often also add “taste” to the must-do list. After all, food is a big part of any culture, and the culture of New Orleans, the Big Easy, has many influences from the French to the Creole, so their cuisine is distinctive.

Do you know what famous New Orleans food is pictured here? Click on the tabs above to identify this delicious tradition that started in 1862, and to find out where you can taste it in New Orleans. (Click the tabs above to find out!)

This photo is of café au lait and beignets. Café au lait is of course coffee, but this New Orleans style coffee has a little something extra–chicory–added to the milk and coffee mixture. Chicory is a member of the dandelion family (who knew dandelions could be useful for anything?), and its roots are baked and ground to either supplement or replace the coffee beans. In fact, when coffee was rationed in North America during WWII, chicory was used as a substitute.

When I was a kid, my mother kept a box in the cupboard to make-do in between trips to town. Our Sunday morning treat back then was chicory milk coffee, which actually tasted a lot like New Orleans café au lait. Food.com has a good recipe. But the most interesting part of this photo, if you have a sweet tooth like me, is the beignet (deep fried fritter).

The dough mix can vary, but it’s invariably fried and immediately tossed with tons of icing sugar. The evaporated milk and eggs give it a very rich, dense texture–here’s Paula Deen’s recipe for French Quarter Beignets on her site.  

One of New Orleans most famous restaurants, the Café du Monde was established as a coffee stand in 1862. You can sample the Café au lait and beignets whenver the fancy takes you when you visit New Orleans, as they’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, unless a hurricane shuts them down!

They have nine locations and three additional gift shop locations–this trip I took a break shopping at the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk mall location to enjoy my beignets. The kitchen area is glassed there, so you can even watch the beignets being rolled and fried!

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