Ian McNulty


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.

Chef Leah Chase was an icon of New Orleans food and an inspiration for her city.

The idea that food brings people together is now one of the cornerstones of food culture. It’s the access point for finding common ground. This was not always agreed upon as a good thing.

A sign for coffee at Louisiana Products, a tiny deli in downtown New Orleans that closed in 2018.
Ian McNulty

Think about the restaurants that make you happiest. They might not necessarily be the biggest places with the most acclaim. But I bet they’re places steeped in the pleasure of great cooking and the fellowship of people who share it. I bet some of them are hole in the wall joints.

An assortment of boudin from Bourree at Bourcherie, a New Orleans butcher shop for the Cajun classic.
Ian McNulty

Some essential ingredients for a road trip: good tunes, to peel back the miles; a phone charger, of course; and, if this road trip is in south Louisiana, a good old fashioned ice chest, for souvenirs of the edible variety.

A drive around these parts will not bring you sweeping views of mountains and valleys. But it will bring you close to wonders of the Louisiana food world, namely boudin, the rice and pork sausage link that can be a snack on the way or the whole purpose of the trip.

Ian McNulty

Crawfish fanatics put more than just spice in their boils. They put time, effort, attention and maybe even personality and pride. It’s no surprise then that once they find a signature approach they’re bound to stick to it, and defend it.

But as a crawfish lover, as someone who is always hovering over the boiling pot and ready to wedge into a crawfish table, I’m fascinated by different techniques that give different results.

McNulty family photo

As another Mother’s Day rolls around, we hear a lot about restaurant brunches and special menus, like it’s some big combination of Easter and New Year’s Eve. Mother’s Day is indeed just that big for restaurants.

But when I think about Mother’s Day the food I think about is quite different. I think about frozen food, specifically the stuff that was home cooked by my own mother on the weekends and stashed away to get us through the week.

Ian McNulty

The food at Jazz Fest doesn’t change very often, and that means favorite vendors and dishes have become cherished parts of the event.  

But lately I’ve been experimenting. What would happen if I combined different Jazz Fest dishes from various food vendors? Eventually, I came up with a few Jazz Fest mash ups .

Ian McNulty

People in southeast Louisiana know how to fest. A full dance card of homegrown festivals gives us plenty of practice, and mastering the logistics of good times outdoors with a crowd of fellow revelers is a point of local pride.

At Jazz Fest, all this plays out on a huge stage. When it comes to the food at Jazz Fest, some particular pragmatics and etiquette help keep the wheels turning.

Crawfish is more than a meal in Louisiana. It's a way of life.
Ian McNulty

You can love crawfish, you can be obsessed with them, you can post your social media pictures of all their red shell glory until your phone dies.

But I have a firm conviction that no one ever really gets crawfish until they soak in the full experience of the do-it-yourself backyard crawfish boil.

The Lenten fish fry is a sign of the season in south Louisiana that brings more than flavor to the table.
Ian McNulty

In Louisiana we have the food seasons that nature gives us, the harvests so prodigious that clearly the only logical response is a feast, a fest or at least a party.

Then there are the food seasons that we make ourselves, through tradition, through custom that becomes ritual.

Ian McNulty

Red beans and rice is a dish that likes company. Yeah, we all know its roots as the Monday laundry day dish, but today red beans and rice is also social food.

It's on the stove when people come over and ladled up at parties. Think about how many times someone has offered red beans the first time you walked into their home. It feeds a crowd affordably, soothes the soul like comfort food should and lets you know where you stand: and that’s in New Orleans.