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Where Y’Eat: Nevermind the Heat, In Louisiana Football Season Means Outdoor Cooking Season Is Here

Jambalaya, cooked outdoors in heavy iron pots, is a common sight around Louisiana during football season.
Ian McNulty
Jambalaya, cooked outdoors in heavy iron pots, is a common sight around Louisiana during football season.

Sometimes, Louisiana culture seems to run countercyclical to mainstream America. So it goes that, with Labor Day well behind us and with others putting away outdoor summertime pleasures like so many pool toys, people here are wheeling out their grills, filling up the propane tanks and wiping down their heirloom cast iron.


The reason isn’t the calendar, and it really isn’t even the temperature. It’s football.

The return of football signals the start of the Louisiana’s great outdoor cooking season, in all its generous, gregarious, sometimes competitive glory.

So what if the relative humidity remains as thick as barbecue sauce? The football faithful are ready to party, and many are ready to cook.

It’s just football, right? Just a game. There’s enough hoopla around it already. But in Louisiana it’s more than what happens on the field. This is an important time in the life of our community. We’re coming off the slump of summer. It’s a time to reconnect. Everything we live for in this region lays ahead.

For those who channel this feeling through football, it’s time for tribal rites of the season. Of course this makes it to the table, and the backyards, patios, sidewalks and tailgates.

In Louisiana, people cook for football the way those in other lands cook for holidays. The July Fourth barbecue blowout? This has nothing on the weekly holiday of football around here.

There could be some hedging of bets at play here too. Football cooking can seem like a celebration of your team. But it can also be a celebration of us, of coming together, of good times in our best season. It may be synched to a game but it doesn’t rely on its outcome, thank goodness.

After all, whatever the football gods have planned for us on the gird iron this season, Louisiana culture has already guaranteed greatness on the grill.

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

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