When I walked into Zara’s grocery on a weekend in June, the first thing that greeted me was a big plastic boat. It was filled bright red cooked crawfish. If I wasn’t in the mood to suck heads and pull tails, another container of Gulf shrimp sat underneath, ready to be carried to the checkout.
Welcome to New Orleans, baby. This is not the Midwest.
I recently moved down here from Ann Arbor, Michigan, taking a 1,000-mile road trip through Chicago and then south. I knew Nola well, having visited multiple times and being a member of a Mardi Gras krewe, one of the organizations that puts on the parades. But compared with other big cities where I’ve lived, such as Chicago, Phoenix, and Boston, it’s far different to move to New Orleans than to visit—and that includes my findings about food.
Sadly, Zara’s crawfish are finished for the season (although you can still find them elsewhere), but there’s plenty more to eat in this city. Here are some observations based on my first month in New Orleans.