Eating History in New Orleans Plantation Country
If you find yourself in New Orleans Plantation Country and you aren’t either leaving a great restaurant, anticipating eating a great meal or holding a delicious snack in your hands, you’re doing it wrong.
When we visited this summer, we did not make that mistake.
Food is love here. And visitors do well to love often.
Eating Plantation Country | German Coast Farmers Market Snacks
In part, it’s due to the history. People that have called this place home, whether invited or enslaved, have come from places around the world bringing with them a host of cultural influences.
The Chitimacha tribe were here first. Then the French settlers who sought to prevent the British from having the land, encouraged additional settlers from Germany. Soon, the Spanish were here and they brought enslaved Africans as early as 1731. Acadians, Mexicans and others have left their mark too.
At the German Coast Farmers Market, the foods you can snack on (or take home for later) represent a wide array of cultures. Founded in May of 2003, the market is a non-profit organization operated by a volunteer board of directors. Their goal was to encourage the ability of farmers and small vendors to reach the public directly with fresh produce and local creations. They’ve succeeded.
Fifteen years later, Ish, the boys and I are happily taking advantage of an afternoon stop. We sip homemade lemonade, snack on tamales and grab pork rinds for road travel snacks. Those looking to linger here can enjoy jambalaya and fresh baked breads and pastries, as well.
Eating Plantation Country |Real Meals
A night at the Oak Alley Plantation Restaurant and Inn cottages means you have a kitchen ready for making your own breakfast in the morning. My advice? Don’t.
Instead head over to the restaurant where fresh beignets with Oak Alley Cane syrup is on offer, as are crawfish omelettes and Pain Perdue (Cajun French Toast). Prefer to stay on for lunch? Menu offerings include Creole/Cajun stalwarts like chicken and Andouille gumbo and red beans and rice.
The history and purpose of the 200-year old plantation. which was once a thriving sugar plantation that depended on slave labour, is well explained. Tours both inside the Big House and among reconstructed slave quarters on site share the stories of all of the lives that lived here. There is no shying away fromslave contributions to the area’s wealth or the horrific treatment suffered in its quest. The history is told with reverence and respect and questions are encouraged.
The eating continued, though in a more dressed-for-dinner way, at the Houmas House Plantation and Gardens .
Tours of the antebellum era home are available. Preserved in the old plantation style, many of the artifacts inside are a reminder of the racist ideals of the time. Personally, we preferred the gardens outside. They are stunning. Dotted with sculptures, bridges and pathways that were the perfect ways to stroll before and after dinner. Modern rooms also offer a beautiful landing place after dessert.
Eating Plantation Country | In between snacks
The only food on-site at the Destrehan Plantation are the treats and candy available in the gift shop, but that shouldn’t stop you from a visit. This former plantation is the oldest documented plantation home in the lower Mississippi Valley and as such, offers a look into the history, art and lifestyle of a bygone era. Costumed historical interpreters share the stories of both the Destrehan family and the enslaved who lived on the plantation.
We spent a few hours learning about the history of the home, the architecture and perusing an incredible display about the 1811 slave revolt – one of the largest revolts in US history – and an original document signed by President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of State James Madison.
We also learn that during the Civil War, “the Union Army seized the plantation and established the Rost Home Colony where newly freed slaves learned trades enabling them to transition into a life of freedom.”
Getting all of this information required doing some walking! We wandered the grounds, climbed the stairs in the home and followed our guide from room to room.
Not one of us complained about the “exercise.” I mean you have to work up an appetite somewhere, right?
Eating Plantation Country | A Few More to Try
Still hungry? Try popping into one of these local stops:
- Wayne Jacobs Smokehouse – Home of Andouille smoked the old fashion way
- Snoballs at Guidry’s Goodys
Looking for more?
This is the third in a series of posts about our time in New Orleans Plantation Country. You can read our first post about our encounters with locals trying to share the history of the area here. And our second post detailing our encounters with alligators, here.
Disclosure: These posts are sponsored in part by VisitNOPC.com. As always, all opinions are my own.