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.
Most important, remember to walk first, eat second. It’s all too common to see what happens when people reverse this. They start eating right there by the booth, turning the food areas into asteroid belts of distracted diners, lolling erratically in their own world of cheese, roux and seafood.
Just step away from the booth before eating. Not only will everyone get an easier path, but you’ll enjoy your food more when you can give it your full attention. Pro tip: most booths will give you foil to cover your prized dish for the journey.
Point two: Shade is both scarce and sacred at Jazz Fest, especially when you need a spot to set down your plate. Scoring a spot in the small tented seating areas near some food booths is clutch, but just remember to share the space.
And finally, be a food ambassador. If you’ve done Jazz Fest a few times, you know the food by heart. Not so with newcomers.
Just listen and you’ll hear people quizzing erstwhile strangers about food terms and ingredients. It turns out oyster patties, crawfish sacks, maque choux and yaka mein are not always households words in households outside Louisiana.
As a Jazz Fest veteran, or just a local, you can render assistance by fielding some of these questions. Bonus, it’s a good reminder of how lucky we are to live in a place where all this bounty is considered normal.