9.23.2014

365 Project Day 266: On New Orleans' Food Influences: Spanish

Before VeganMoFo wraps up, I want to talk to y'all about the cultures that have come together to create what we now see as New Orleans food.  We'll begin with one of the most obvious: Spanish.  Yes, Spanish!  People always remember the French influence, but may not recall that Spain also spent a fair amount of time in control of the city.  In fact, the brick buildings with their courtyards and wrought iron railings which define the French Quarter are, in fact, of Spanish design.

Let us turn then to Spanish food.  Like our local cuisine, it is heavy with seafood - and logically so.  But it also contains hearty quantities of Mediterranean mainstays like tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil.  To have a lovely sample of vegan Spanish food in New Orleans, one need not look further than Lola's in Esplanade Ridge.

Lola's serves traditional dishes from Spain in a cozy, comfortable atmosphere.  Vegan options there include starters of garlicky mushrooms or Brussels sprouts, soups and salads, and entrees of pisto or their signature paella - the granddaddy of Nola's beloved rice dish, jambalaya.  I recently sampled the following, to great success:

Salty, garlicky Brussels sprouts tapas

Tomato-based lentil soup quite different from Sicilian or Middle-Eastern styles, thinner and with vegetables including carrots, green beans, baby corn, and water chestnuts.

Pisto, a traditional vegetable stew similar to ratatouille, here served in a grilled portobello mushroom cap with sides of black beans and rice and grilled asparagus.

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