Louisiana Culinary Dictionary
The Bayou State’s flair for the exotic extends to its tongue-twisting menu of local dishes. Brush up on your Louisiana vocabulary with these ten culinary terms.
With so many international influences on Louisiana’s remarkable cuisine, you could be forgiven for not knowing exactly how to pronounce or describe some of our favorite dishes. For those unfamiliar with these local dishes, we’ve created a mini-dictionary of some culinary terms you’ll run across in your Louisiana travels. Impress your friends and family with your knowledge of these delicacies, and more importantly, where to find them!
Popular Louisiana Food
Boudin (bou·din / bü-ˈdan) n. A Cajun smoked sausage containing rice and meat, typically pork. Boudin is ubiquitous across south Louisiana, and you can get some at the Scott Boudin Festival in April and along the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail - get the boudin guide for Lake Charles and the boudin guide for Lafayette. Learn more about boudin.
Étouffée (étouf·fée / ā-tü-ˈfā) n. A Cajun/Creole entrée containing seafood (usually crawfish), tomatoes and roux, served over rice. Étouffée, a French word meaning “smothered,” involves a lighter roux than gumbo. You’ll find some of the best at Boudreau & Thibodaux’s Cajun Cookin’ in Houma and at The Chimes in Baton Rouge. Try this recipe for étouffée.
Grillades (gri-ˈlahdz; French gree-ˈyad) n. Pan-fried pork or steak with vegetables and spices, served with gravy over grits. You’ll see grillades mainly on New Orleans area menus. Two places to find grillades are at The Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans’ in the French Quarter or head to the Nortshore and visit Oxlot 9 in Covington’s Southern Hotel.
Gumbo (gum·bo / ˈgəm-(ˌ)bō) n. A stew made with roux, rice, meat or seafood, filé powder and okra. There are too many variations of gumbo to count, and it can be found all over the state. Try some at Cormier’s in Monroe or Merci Beaucoup Restaurant in Natchitoches. Learn about Louisiana's gumbo festivals and get this classic gumbo recipe.
Jambalaya (jam·ba·laya / ˌjəm-bə-ˈlī-ə) n. A dish made with rice, vegetables, meats such as chicken and andouille sausage, and trinity (a combination of chopped celery, bell peppers and onions). Fine examples can be found at the Jambalaya Shoppe diner in Gonzales (a town known as the Jambalaya Capital of the World) and the Lil’ Cajun House in Alexandria. Have you tasted jambalaya?
Po’boy (po'·boy / ˈpō-ˌbȯi) n. A submarine sandwich consisting of meat, lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayonnaise, held together within two halves of flaky, soft French bread. Sam’s Southern Eatery in Shreveport has one of the best in north Louisiana and don't miss Melba's Po-Boys in New Orleans.
Praline (pra·line / ˈprä-ˌlēn) n. A Creole candy made with pecans, sugar, brown sugar and butter. At Aunt Sally’s Pralines in the heart of New Orleans' Arts/Warehouse District, you can take a tour to see how the buttery confection is made. Try this simple recipe for pralines to hold you over until you can come visit.
Roux (ˈrü) n. A creamy mixture of oil, butter or fat, and flour. Roux is one of the main ingredients in gumbo, and there are about as many versions of it as there are those making it. Taste roux done right at Bon Temps Grill in Lafayette and at The Cabin Restaurant in Burnside. Watch the video to learn how to make roux.
Sazerac (ˈsæz əˌræk) n. A New Orleans-born cocktail containing rye whiskey, bitters, Herbsaint and lemon peel. Purists will want to try a Sazerac at the Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt New Orleans hotel. Learn more about the history of the Sazerac.
Ya-ka-mein (ˈya kə mē) n. A soup typically containing beef brisket or pork, a hard-boiled egg, green onions and spaghetti noodles, found almost exclusively in New Orleans. Find simple homemade varieties at second line parades throughout the Big Easy, look for Miss Linda's version. Get the recipe here.
Learn more about Louisiana's famous desserts and find more recipes. Discover all the amazing dishes to be tasted in Louisiana by visiting our Culinary Trails comprised of eight unique trails that criss-cross the state to bring you the best flavors from every region.