That New Orleans Flavor

By on 12 December, 2018 in Cooking, Food, Kate and Stephen with 0 Comments

Regular readers of this blog know that we like to cook. We also like to make day trips, and New Orleans is both a favorite destination and a favorite style of cuisine.

On a recent trip to The Big Easy™, one of us went to a wine bar where a small businessman had set up a table outside. He was selling traditional New Orleans food (jambalaya, etc.) and a few new twists (jambalaya inside an egg roll wrapper). And a conversation about Cajun spices and flavors led to the revelation that there were a few homemade spice and sauce offerings on sale. The first was a canister of spice mix that would be familiar to anyone who uses the extremely popular Tony Chachere seasoning. After saying that his version was less salty than the better-known competitor (which is true), the conversation moved on to the traditional bottled hot sauce. We ended up coming home with the powdered spice mix, a bottle of the hot sauce, and a cannister of pre-mixed jambalaya mix. Curious? Check out the Bayou Boys here.

Here are the results of some cooking experiments with our most recent New Orleans souvenirs.

First up was the hot sauce. We’re probably more into hot sauce than most people. There are probably four or five kinds in our fridge at any given point in time, not counting the Sriracha and sambal oelek. They all taste different, and go well on different kinds of foods. So, despite the taste test, we had pretty high expectations for this one. We pulled it out when trying out a new product from the freezer section at Publix – the Gardein “Porkless Pockets.” These were a pretty good food item, and we love how Publix has been steadily improving its selection of vegetarian food, but the pockets needed some extra flavor. This hot sauce delivered. It’s got a nice garlicky bite to it, and it seems like it would go well with foods that have a tomato or smoky base to them. We’re looking forward to adding it to our hot sauce library.

For what it’s worth the Bayou Boys were selling their sauce under the imprint of the P&J Oyster House, so keep your eye out for that label.

Next up was the jambalaya kit. We were a bit conflicted about this one. It seemed to take a folk tradition that’s historically a communal labor of love using whatever’s around in the kitchen and reduce it to some pre-measured stuff encased in a tube of plastic. But we were game. We got two pounds of shrimp and browned them up. Then we dumped in the Bayou Boys contents, which seemed to be rice and a whole lot of seasoning. The ingredient list was very long. We added water and left it to cook for a while.

Finally, it was time to eat. It smelled amazing, for sure. And the instructions worked – the rice was cooked through, and everything was evenly seasoned. The trouble is that it was very salty. Maybe we’re just not used to so much salt, but if we did it again, we’d maybe increase the amount of rice or something to balance out.

In the end, it wasn’t our favorite jambalaya ever, but it was awfully convenient. And if it’s a way to get this delicious regional food into homes with folks that might be too busy to cook a lot, it’s worth it. After all, a trip to New Orleans takes several hours.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, ten fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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