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.

The diversity of the Gulf will be one of the topics at Slow Fish, an international conference in New Orleans this week.
Slow Fish

Update: Friday's Slow Fish program will be at The Broad Theater at 636 N. Broad Street. Conference only, no public festival.

The Slow Fish conference is March 10-13 at the Old U.S. Mint, 400 Esplanade Ave.

Its festival is held around the grounds and is free and open to the public on Friday (March 11), 3-7 p.m., Saturday (March 12), noon-6 p.m. 

See details at www.slowfish2016.com.

The longtime deli FredRick's is now Bienvenue Bar & Grill.
Ian McNulty

Around downtown New Orleans, a small circuit of old fashioned diners and delis give their own particular read at the food life of New Orleans, set to the reliable rhythms of red bean Mondays and fried seafood Fridays.

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.

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?

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