Where is the New Orleans 'Cue Tradition?

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I'm lucky enough to get to read almost daily doses of Lolis with my morning coffee. Love the care and expertise he applies to telling powerful (and entertaining) stories about food & culture.

Here's my question, Lolis: how is that given all the rich influences that spurred barbecue traditions elsewhere in the South, New Orleans has little in way of great 'cue to boast about? Yes, we have Kermit & his BBQ Swingers, and any number of my friends will talk about their favorite joints. But, wow, we have so many food traditions that are hard to beat, but not so much with barbecue.

What gives? Is it that N.O. is really the northern tip of the Caribbean and the South is so far away? Is it that are already too many foods fighting for top billing? Is there some kind of topsy turvey racial/supper table calculus at work? Or, maybe, as you've said, barbecue is the quintessential American food, and, when it comes down to it, New Orleans is only ostensibly an American place.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with everyone here. Great site, Chris. Always inspiring.
 

Lolis Eric Elie

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Brian,

Thanks for the kind words about the newsppaer column.

New Orleans is starting to get some serious barbecue. But I think it has less to do with any indigenous tradition than it does with the national trend toward opening more barbecue places. Tenney Flynn, of Zydecue, is not from New Orleans. He's from the south. Ditto for the folks at Hillbilly Barbecue.

I maintain that I grew up on some very good backyard barbecue in New Orleans. But most of what passes for barbecue here is grilling or worse. (I have relatives who, though devoutly Christian, committ the sacrilege of boiling the meat first!)

I would argue that there were too many other culinary delights competing for our attention to make barbecue central in New Orleans. As you go north of the city, much of Louisiana is very Southern and the food reflects that. But, outdoors for us, often means a crawfish boil.

Lolis
 
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