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Where Y’Eat: Finding a Feast at French Quarter Fest And a Rich Reminder

French Quarter Festival 2022, Louisiana Fish Fry Stage
Justen Williams
French Quarter Festival 2022, Louisiana Fish Fry Stage

One of the principal delights of French Quarter Fest to me is the way it puts a different lens on the French Quarter itself. It does that to the festival food as well.

New Orleans people know the French Quarter landmarks and maybe can even take it for granted, relegating it to the tourists who do flock here from around the globe. But for the four-day span of French Quarter Festival, now through Sunday this week, the streets and corners and riverfront stretches here are transformed into a showcase of local music and local food, and I always find it a refreshing reminder of the richness at our finger tips in this city.

The food vendors represent a tour de force of New Orleans flavors, including those that speak to deep-running local traditions and more that reflect how our communities cook and eat today.

The festival can be a big break for vendors and an opportunity to showcase what they do every day at their restaurants.

You can shop with your eyes and your nose, assessing the flavors whirling around the scene.

Between them, you’ll find full meals, plates to share with friends, snacks for that needed boost, sweet indulgences you can’t resist, old festival favorites you crave each year, new flavors you’ve always wanted to try and, most likely, dishes you hadn’t before imagined.

It’s everything from shrimp remoulade from Tujague’s, one of the oldest names in French Creole dining, to Ethiopian-style chicken wings from Addis Nola an up-and-comer in Mid-City.

And, because this is New Orleans, many of those flavors come with personalities, the well-known vendors who take part year after year and are back once again. It’s people like Vance Vaucresson, educating people on Creole food traditions one hot sausage po-boy at a time. Or it’s Miss Linda Green, the Yakamein Lady, dishing out her signature soup, a staple of New Orleans street food.

Paired with all the music, and the interplay of New Orleans people themselves, it's all another lens on the culture of New Orleans that flows through food. It’s a feast and a fest and I’m ready to dig in.

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