Where Y'Eat

New Orleans writer Ian McNulty hosts Where Y'Eat, a weekly exploration and celebration of food culture in the Crescent City and south Louisiana.

Ian gives listeners the low-down on the hottest new restaurants, old local favorites, and hidden hole-in-the-wall joints alike, and he profiles the new trends, the cherished traditions, and the people and personalities keeping America's most distinctive food scene cooking.

 

Subscribe to Where Y'Eat as a podcast:

1. Open Itunes

2. Go to the File Menu, click on Subscribe to Podcast…

3. Enter this URL: itpc://wwno.org/podcasts/6095/rss.xml

And that’s it! New episodes download automatically.

Ways to Connect

Szechuan pepper shrimp at Nine Roses in Gretna, La.
Ian McNulty

A circuit of Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants in New Orleans serve their own renditions of a distinctive, twice-fried style of seafood that makes a refreshing change of pace from the local standard. 

It goes by different names too --  salt baked seafood, salt and pepper seafood, Szechuan pepper seafood or rang muoi.

Crawfish season brings invitations that are as much about socializing as feasting.
Ian McNulty

Here’s one thing about the seasons in New Orleans: they don’t heed the weather.

Not in a town where you’re likely to be hanging Christmas lights wearing shorts, a T-shirt and a light sweat, or where the most famous winter holiday, Mardi Gras, is celebrated primarily outdoors no matter if its balmy and beautiful or spitting down freezing rain.

Ian McNulty / WWNO

As parades roll and people hit the streets for Carnival revelry, street food blossoms everywhere.

King cakes have become a popular cultural icon in New Orleans, though some still look for the satisfaction of an old classic style.
Ian McNulty

King cakes have been popular in New Orleans for a long time. But not this popular. Something has changed.

King cake has become a cultural statement, one of those emblems of pride that New Orleans uses to celebrate itself. King cake is the Saints fleur-de-lis of food. You live it, you wear it, you rally around it.

The menu at Lahpet, a pop-up in Mid-City, is full of flavors from Burmese cooking.
Ian McNulty

A salad for lunch can be light and it can feel refreshing. Rarely does the dish actually deliver its own buzz. But that is one of the attributes of a salad called lahpet. It’s built around fermented tea leaves, which lend the kick behind the beguiling pungency of the dish.

Does charity start at home? For many in the New Orleans hospitality business, charity starts at the stove, and the bar. The food and drink they contribute are the lifeblood for countless charitable events and fundraisers, and they’re constantly answering the call to support community causes with their time and talent and product.

Veal sweetbreads at Doris Metropolitan, a contemporary Mediterranean restaurant in the French Quarter.
Ian McNulty

Go to enough modern restaurants and you can play a form of food trend bingo. Cauliflower and kale, short ribs and pork belly, a gourmet take on mac and cheese – they trace connected lines across plenty of menu. And why not? They’re all delicious when handled right and they’re all pretty accessible crowd pleasers too. It’s simple math. 

But then, look at a cross section of particular New Orleans menus, and you might spot a trend that doesn’t seem to add up.

Off bottom cultivation is bringing a different flavor to Gulf oysters.
Ian McNulty

Oysters make people happy. That’s a simple truth that resonates deep, and goes beyond satisfying an appetite or even a craving. It’s something as visceral as the raw oyster itself, bursting with the essence of the tides. It can instill a sense of well being bordering on euphoria.

In New Orleans today there are many more ways to chase this bliss. As the number of eateries serving oysters has increased, so have the variety of oyster bar types in which to partake, depending on your style, your mood or your budget.

The chicken parmesan po-boy at Sam's Po-Boys in Old Jefferson
Ian McNulty

Picture a po-boy filled with chicken fried steak, or another holding a clutch of New Orleans-style hot tamales, just gushing grease. Conjure the prospect of a chicken parmesan po-boy under a thick cap of chunky meat sauce. And how about a po-boy filled with sliced wieners all soaked with pepper gravy, or yet another encasing slices of hog headcheese fashioned in the form of gumbo?

Where to get such creations? A boundary-pushing pop-up, a modern food truck on the make?

Roux Carre, a new food court from a local nonprofit in Central City.
Ian McNulty

In its natural habitat of shopping malls and concourses, the food court is set up for convenience and speed, offering a spread of ready options.

Transport the idea of a food court to a particular New Orleans neighborhood in the midst of change, however, and put a nonprofit business development group in charge, and you have something different. In the case of Roux Carre, it’s a food court designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs take a step up in the burgeoning business of New Orleans dining.

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