Ian McNulty

Producer

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat. 

Ian is also a staff writer for the daily newspaper the New Orleans Advocate, covering the culture, personality and trends behind the city’s famous dining scene.

He is the author of two books - “Louisiana Rambles: Exploring America’s Cajun and Creole Heartland,” a travel narrative about south Louisiana culture, and “A Season of Night: New Orleans Life After Katrina,” an account of the first months in the city after Hurricane Katrina.

He has been a contributor to WWNO since 2009.

Boudin from the New Orleans butcher shop Bourree at Boucherie.
Ian McNulty

The natural habitat for boudin is Louisiana Cajun country, and across its range you find the delicious pork and rice sausage everywhere from gas stations to bait shops. But for a long time, where you didn't find boudin was New Orleans.

Well praise the lard and pass me a link, those dark days are done. Boudin has found a second home in the Crescent City.

Ian McNulty

In New Orleans, there’s long been a natural order when it comes to enjoying a bit of natural beauty with your dinner and drinks. It was the courtyards of old French Quarter restaurants or a seat by the flaming fountain at Pat O’Brien’s. Watching streetcars rattle past from the porch at the Columns Hotel always qualified, and any balcony was fair game. 

But now the game has changed, and here’s the latest twist: more restaurants and bars are going the full monty, devoting most of their space and much of their business model to the al fresco appeal.

The new Saturday location of the Crescent City Farmers Market is at 750 Carondelet St.
Ian McNulty

Around the world, you find farmers markets in historic halls of iron and glass and in leafy, bucolic town squares.

For 21 years, we found the Saturday version of the Crescent City Farmers Market in a small corner parking lot in downtown New Orleans. Normally it was a utilitarian space. But for one day each week it came alive, animated by the energy of people and food and hand-to-hand commerce. 

Well now, the Crescent City Farmers Market is out to create that organic ambiance all over again at a new location. That’s because the Saturday market has moved to corner of Carondelet and Julia streets in downtown New Orleans.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Beignets these days! I mean, can you even recognize them? In case you haven’t noticed, the French donut that New Orleans made famous has been seeing a revival. There’s more places to get them, and more flavors and more different shapes and forms. 

But can beignets be burgers? Can they double as crab cakes or stand in for chicken and waffles?

One night recently at Commander's Palace the two reigning queens of New Orleans cuisine shared a table and, for a moment, the spotlight. It got me thinking about the long game, one so long we can't even see it amid the hubbub of what's new, who's ranked where, and which spot is getting all the attention. It got me thinking about the future, and who’s next.

Fried chicken from McHardy's Chicken & Fixin' in New Orleans.
Ian McNulty

Fried chicken gets people fired up, and I don’t just mean hungry. But why? I’ve done some digging, and some digging in, and I’ve found a few reasons, beyond the simple fact that it’s delicious.

The timing is important. Fried chicken is top of mind in New Orleans right now because this Sunday, Sept. 25, the new Fried Chicken Festival debuts downtown, in Lafayette Square. 

A smoked brisket sandwich from the butcher shop Cleaver & Co. in New Orleans.
Ian McNulty

Back in the day, neighborhoods had their own butcher, their own baker and, well, maybe not their own candlestick maker, but at least other purveyors who were masters of their trades. You get the point.           

Today, butcher shops are making a comeback in New Orleans. But while the old butcher shop techniques are often the same, the way this next generation courts customers has changed. They’re finding new ways to introduce the prospect of a full butcher’s case to a clientele that may have been raised on supermarket staples and processed products.

A spread of charcuterie made from seafood at Kingfish, a Cajun restaurant in the French Quarter.
Ian McNulty

Prosciutto and salami, pate and terrines, tasso and jerky and cracklin’. These are the staples of meat boards and charcuterie platters now so popular in the restaurant world. But lately, we're also finding seafood versions of all of this, often presented together as creative seafood charcuterie spreads.

Jerk chicken from Coco Hut, a Caribbean restaurant in New Orleans with a bold way with spice.
Ian McNulty

Keeping some semblance of cool as our summer heat rages on can take some strategy. We park the car under oak limbs and walk on the shady side of the street. We keep ice water handy and, when it's time to eat, something cool and light sounds like just the thing.

But across the spectrum, there is another way, and it’s to embrace the heat, to own it. Revel in fiery foods and you may just beat the heat at its own game.

Louisiana's love of gathering around food can be a tool to help people rebuild from disasters
Ian McNulty

When everything is torn apart, we gravitate to what brings us together. In Louisiana for all the hardships we’ve seen on the ragged edge of that equation, we’re fortunate to be so strong on the other side. Our shared food culture is one of those anchors.           
 

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