The Celiac’s Wife Talks Food in The Big Easy

Do you think it’s easy to find food for a celiac who can’t eat gluten, but is also lactose intolerant, fat intolerant, and can’t eat beans, chocolate, coconut, etc.?

OK, well, the fact is that it was sure easy for ME to find food ;). I parTOOK of gumbo, beignets, cafe au lait, deep-fried seafood, rich creole sauces, and more. But I had to do it in restaurants–for the most part–where I could drag the celiac.

Our first big meal was in a seafood restaurant in the French Quarter. They had lots of deep-fried this and that.

The celiac quickly learned that he needed to order the boiled seafood. First, he had to ask if anything else was boiled in that water. If they boiled anything with gluten, he had to opt out. But if they boiled potatoes, corn on the cob, and seafood, that was fine.

That left the deep-fried for me. And what did I order? Oysters every time. A few times I sample other fried seafood, but nothing can beat the oysters.

You see those onion rings? They were great, too. I didn’t eat the fries or too many of the hushpuppies buried underneath. After all, I’m not a . . . glutton. Eventually we did find a very casual restaurant where all the deepfried foods are gluten free. They were quite busy, probably because they are the only place a celiac can get gluten free fried seafood–and also because the prices were quite low. The food was so-so, but it was a relief that the gardener could try the fried shrimp and oysters without worry.

Because the vegetable selection was sparse in these seafood platters (cole slaw is NOT ubiquitous in NOLA), I ordered a Bloody Mary for a healthy balance.

The bean is pickled, and there are a cocktail onion and other veggies hidden from view.

On one of our quick stops, I ordered a bowl of tasty New Orleans gumbo in a brown roux. What I really appreciate about the gumbos I ate or saw is that they had crab and shrimp, but didn’t stick in mussels or scallops. I am allergic to mussels and scallops, but not other shellfish. Before you think I’m imaging this, I found out a year or so ago that my mother has the exact same allergy!

One night we went to a fancy-schmancy restaurant called Mr. John’s. The gardener ordered a steak and mushrooms and salad, but I had a salad with, wait for it: crab bisque (with a spicy NOLA bite to it) and fried green tomatoes with a spicy creamy type sauce. Oh yeah.

One thing about the expensive restaurants like Galatoire’s, Antoine’s, and Arnaud’s–you need to make a reservation a long time ahead. If you just go to the Big Easy and expect that easy style will net you a table at a famous restaurant, you will see that you were sadly mistaken.  I suggest making a reservation long before you go, if you really want to go to one of these restaurants. Also, these places generally still require men to wear jackets. Mr. John’s requires a reservation, as well, but not so far in advance–and no jacket necessary.

New Orleans food is mainly comprised of either Cajun (spicy) or Creole (heavy cream sauces) foods, accessorized with a lot of deep-fried seafood and this-and-that. After awhile, as a way to avoid the Gaviscon, you want something lighter. We ate sushi twice, and it was spectacular. Check out Poseidon on St. Charles when you need a break from “traditional” NOLA food.

I hadn’t planned on eating sweets on this vacation, but our city tour took us to a stop where we were encouraged to try New Orleans beignets (square holeless French doughnuts) topped with confectioner’s sugar and cafe au lait. Cafe au lait in NOLA is apparently chicory coffee. This is what my buddy Wikipedia has to say about New Orleans cafe au lait (as opposed to the French style):

Café au lait is a popular drink in New Orleans, available at coffee shops like Café du Monde and Morning Call, where it is made with milk and coffee mixed with chicory, giving it a strong, bitter taste. Unlike the European café style, a New Orleans-style café au lait is made with scalded milk (milk warmed over heat to just below boiling), rather than with steamed milk. The use of roasted chicory root as an extender in coffee became common in Louisiana during the American Civil War, when Union navalblockades cut off the Port of New Orleans, forcing citizens to stretch out the coffee supply. In New Orleans, café au lait is traditionally drunk while eating beignetsdusted with powdered sugar, which offsets the bitterness of the chicory.

I hate to admit it, but I ate this in front of the gardener. The cafe had NADA (zilch, zero, nutten) for him to order. Even the cafe au lait wasn’t guaranteed to be gluten free and he could never tolerate all that dairy. He had black coffee. Yes, in answer to your question, I felt terrible. But this snack tasted great ;).

What’s next? Probably the graves. We also visited the only plantation that focuses on the lives of the enslaved, not the enslavers. I might write about that, too. But graves next.

89 Comments

Filed under #writerlife, Art and Music, History, Nonfiction, Sightseeing & Travel

89 responses to “The Celiac’s Wife Talks Food in The Big Easy

  1. What about, dear Luanne, planning a visit to Ireland? Ireland is gluten free easy-peasy. I eat glutenfree-vegan and it is no problem here. We noticed a ‘Glutenfree’ road sign leading up to a restaurant. Heaven, don’t you think?

  2. The crab bisque looks yummy, Luanne. I’m not a fan of oysters though. Boy, that’s a big Bloody Mary!

    • I guess you haven’t had them deep fried. My mom’s family always makes oyster stew for Christmas Eve, and from what I can tell it’s mainly milk and greasy oysters. Nasty. What I ate in NOLA is nutten like that ;). The Bloody Mary was perfect. I don’t like drinks that are so small where you want a second one haha.

  3. It all looks good. I love beignets and chicory coffee. I was fascinated with the graves so I am anxious for that post. One thing I found about NO. The drinks are BIG so I had to be super careful!

    • We had a time share, so we bought a bottle of vodka and made our own drinks, other than that Bloody Mary. But I wish I had tried a Hurricane and gone to one of the Daiquiri bars ;)!

    • Elyse, that is pretty fascinating. I wonder if our allergy is not a true allergy but some other intolerance to scallops and mussels. Because what happens to us is that we get violently ill in a GI way. Holding the “bowl” while sitting on the floor. That way. Thank you for the article. I am praying I don’t get allergic to crab, shrimp, and lobster :).

      • That would be terrible! I knew someone who reacted violently to shrimp one, and then never again. Go figure!

        • A one time thing almost makes you think it was bad shrimp. That’s what I thought the first time I got sick from scallops. And the second, too. Then it took me twice with mussels, too, before I figured it out. Then I mentioned it to my mom one day and she has the same thing. So strange.

  4. I am SO glad you were able to find restaurants that could serve the gardener. We’ve had a number of wonderful meals in NOLA, but I don’t have a head for restaurant names, except The Chop House … that one’s easy 😉 We were able to make a same-day reservation and Greg didn’t have to wear a jacket. My favorite place for breakfast is Red Gravy (Camp St) and, of course, Cafe Du Monde for the beignets and (my preference) hot chocolate. Looking forward to your post on graves 🙂

  5. It must be really hard to eat out. I would find it very frustrating, but I guess you’ve learned what to ask for and where to find it.

    • Sometimes I feel that I am not sympathetic enough, which is awful since I know how sick he gets when he’s glutened. Or at least it probably seems that way when I get annoyed at restaurants. But that’s marriage–you get your own troubles and you get his troubles. And it gets frustrating once in awhile not to be able to just stop at a cute snack bar and grab something. Sigh. 3rd World Problem for sure!

      • Well, it’s interesting to hear your side of this condition. Most people think it’s exaggerated. I do think the food production companies have capitalized on the “gluten free” campaign (any excuse to raise prices), but I know that there are people who genuinely are gluten intolerant. Good to listen to both sides.

      • Luanne, Almost all lunch shops and restaurants are able to serve a green salad. I have learned that when we travel, I have a few GF bread buns and some granola bars with me. The salad with the bread and dressed-up with a crumbled GF granola bar does the job. Although it isn’t nice to always rely on green salads and some restaurants put so much oil on it that would you put that in to your car, it will drive the car home, having some Gluten free SOS snacks as a backup works well.
        Ireland never makes a fuss over GF. You don’t have to feel like a nagging toddler. And the good thing is that although Ireland is a huge beef exporter, vegan is getting very trendy here too.

        • Hubby is not content with a salad. In fact, I even bought packets of gluten free salad dressing so he could have a salad anywhere and have the dressing he likes. But he always wants a big portion of warm food ;). And we do travel with gluten free pita bread. It’s made in Phoenix by a man whose deli was recently targeted by vandals in what is thought to be a hate crime. Very sad, but the community really came out for him. Well, that was a tangent I just went down . . . .

      • You made me laugh here! My husband and our soon to be daughter are both off gluten, dairy and anything containing MSG–which is like everything (hidden behind big words on packaging). My husband has a bad case of Lyme disease and the daughter has ADHD etc. We noticed this week that we let her eating habits slide a little and her behaviors have slid as well (dramatically). It stinks for them but I complain that we can’t do anything fun anymore. haha.

  6. Sounds like hard *work* finding food your celiac could eat, wow!

    Luanne, if I may I’d like to make a techie-ish suggestion. The way you write your posts, your followers (like me) get the entire new post in an email. But unless we click on ‘comment’ and are brought here, we won’t count as a ‘view’ or ‘visitor’ to your site, because you’ve just handed us the entire post in an email.

    What I do is, when composing a post, after the first short paragraph, I insert a “read more” line. It’s one of the little icons above the text box, along with Italic, Bold, Link, etc. etc. If you hover your mouse cursor over those icons you’ll find it. When you click on the ‘read more’ icon, it will be inserted in your text wherever your cursor happens to be. That way, when your followers get the email saying you’ve done a new post, they’ll just get a short ‘teaser’ and will HAVE to go to your site, here, in order to read the whole post. Make sense? And that way your stats will show that they visited your site and viewed the post.

    Mind you, if you don’t care about stats, then you can just carry on as usual. 😀

    • Oh, it’s really hard work, Ellie. The worst was a trip to western Canada last year. We spent the whole time trying to find food for my husband! Thank you SO much for your fascinating info about WordPress. I didn’t know any of this, and I always wondered why some people have it set up to read more. I never check my stats, so you can see that it wouldn’t have occurred to me, but let’s say I ever am ready to publish my memoir and a publisher wants to know how many views I get I guess it would help to show them all, right? Maybe I should do a little poll after the holidays and ask readers if they would prefer me to keep it the same or if they wouldn’t mind if I switched over. Wow, thanks for giving me all this food for thought!

      • Anytime! 😀 BTW it’s never too late to look at your stats. You might be shocked to see how well you’re doing! Yes, I do quote my stats in my query letters I send, e.g. over 10,000 visits and 20,000 views in the year I’ve had it up! My daughter says I’m ‘obsessed’ with my stats. I check all the time! Haha!

        • I’m sure that would drive me crazy, checking my stats regularly! Maybe I should head on over there. I know how to do it because when I started I checked it. I never could figure out how I could get 5 likes and only 3 views :/.

      • Oh, forgot to say, what a drag, the food searching!!! Ay yi. The things we take for granted, eh? 😦

  7. This made me laugh: “I ordered a Bloody Mary for a healthy balance.”
    I admire your diligence in trying all the things the gardener could not eat–all in the line of duty to your readers, I’m sure. 😉
    (I’m glad he did find some things he could eat.)
    It sounds like a fun trip, Luanne.

    • Merril, gosh, isn’t a Bloody Mary a good source of fiber and other vegetation-type vitamins and minerals? I bet it is! Especially with the salad on top ;). And, yes, you are so right that I worked very very hard on this trip–eating. I don’t know if you remember that trip we took last year to western Canada. I wrote about searching for celiac food on that trip. That was actually way worse than NOLA, oddly enough. We spent all our time searching for food he could eat at that time. At least in NOLA we could get good sushi and a big bottle of tamari sauce to bring to the chef. They use it to make dishes that require soy sauce (which has gluten) and then the gardener uses it for dipping sushi.

  8. Thanks! That was all so interesting. I’m taking this blog with us next time we go to NOLA!

  9. I’ve been gluten-free for long enough to feel I can go pretty much anywhere and find SOMETHING to eat, but yeah, sometimes it isn’t much fun. Fortunately I do not have to be too careful – if something has a trace of gluten in it it won’t bother me.

    • That is where the big difference comes in. The gardener is like the Princess and the Pea, with the pea being gluten. Within one hour or less of being glutened, he knows that he’s getting sick. It’s nearly impossible to find restaurants that don’t cross-contaminate.

  10. Mmm, fantastic foodie posts, with sensuous descriptions and food porn — oh well done! WOW on the food post!
    I’m so with you on oysters. They’re surely in my top ten foods. Love them!
    I want dilly beans. Second post this week with dilly beans and now I’ve got a full-fledged hankerin.
    Haven’t been to NOLA in….20 years, maybe 21, 22…hard to say. Anyway, long time! It’s all yummy, the food, the scenery, the language.

  11. Love New orleans, Luanne. Been several times now and I smiled as I recognized several venues where I also ate. I have no food allergies but don’t like fried food. So it’s hard in the South to find grilled rather than fried. Besides the beignets that I ADORE. But you’re right, the boiled fish and seafood can be quite great. More than the food itself I love the atamosphere in New Orleans. Away from Bourbon Street that can be quite too much!
    By the way we make cafe au lait with scalded milk too in France. Less now with the new coffee machines but my mom made mine every day before school in this exact way. 🙂
    Now you make me want to go back!

  12. Nice post, Luanne! The photos are fantastic, and they really are inspirational since we have a week-long trip to NOLA coming up in late February. Never been there, and we’re really looking forward to experiencing all of the neat stuff down there. Bring on that seafood! 🙂

  13. From Bloody Mary to Happy Holiday – the food sounds yummy and the adventures mouth-watering!!
    I am already picturing how stuffed I’d feel if Pretty and I ever traveled with you and the gardener.
    Party on!

    • Oh, that sounds fun!!! Of course, we visited the son and his fiancee this week and got Persian takeout. Persian food is almost always gluten free (except for the bread and baklava). The gardener had to take his belt off and unbutton his pants he ate so much. I’ve never seen him do that before haha.

  14. These look delicious Luanne, though more so if you don’t have to worry what’s in them. I’m looking forward to graves…

  15. I’m in awe that you two were able to go to NOLA with such dietary restrictions. I think I’d just have a Bloody Mary every day for the vegetables and skip every thing else. (Oh, except the beignets, of course!) My guy and I share meals when we travel- a salad and an entree, and then a dessert. Neither of us eat fried foods or anything with garlic (his allergy) which takes away a lot of options. So we eat simply. Good for you-trying so many different kinds of meals. Looking forward to hearing about the cemeteries-they were the most interesting part of that city to me.

    • The garlic allergy is difficult. I know people don’t take it seriously. I have developed an intolerance for onions and I asked for a garlic free pizza (because of the connection and too much garlic makes me sick now too), and it still had plenty of garlic on it! Eating simply is the best plan, but so difficult when eating out. Cemeteries tomorrow!

  16. I will remember that as the perfect reason to order a Bloody Mary for healthy balance Luanne…love it! 😉 What fab food! I adore seafood but not oysters or clams or calamari – everything else, you bet. That’s one of the reasons I want to go to New Orleans so bad, for the amazing food. Just one of the many reasons lol! Interesting the differences about cafe au lait, what you describe about the scalding milk would be how we would make a ‘milky coffee’ here, which was more popular when I was growing up. Now of course it’s all about cappacinos and lattes. Eating out is difficult with allergies…and then to discover new ones like yours to mussels and scallops! Right…onto your next post!

    • The biggest thing that surprised me about the NOLA cafe au lait was the addition of chicory which is definitely not coffee. Apparently chicory is more bitter than coffee, but it didn’t taste that way doctored up in the cafe au laid ;). Oh, you are missing something with fried oysters (only deep fried, no other way, well, I take that back–I like canned oysters too :)). I like clams ok, too. But I won’t touch calamari. Ick. Anything that has a name like squid. Just sound it out. squiiiiddd. Double ick! Have a Bloody Mary for Christmas! xoxo

      • Chicory is bitter so I’ve been told…it was the alternative to coffee in the UK during the war, sold in little brown glass bottles. My mum had a bottle of it in her pantry all the years I was growing up but I don’t think she ever used it…will have to ask about that! I never did have that Bloody Mary…not yet anyway. Perhaps tomorrow, hubby’s last day off before going back to work. A good way to see in 2017! But I definitely won’t be eating any oysters (although you are doing a good job of pursuading me with the fried version, ha!) or clams or anything that sounds remotely like squiiiiidddd 😀 Happy New Year Luanne, cheers to you my friend! xoxo

        • How cool that is that your mum kept the chicory! I’ve heard it’s bitter, but with the milk and sugar it sure didn’t taste bitter ;). Be sure to get that Bloody Mary soon! Squid is disgusting, I agree. But fried oysters and clams are so yum. I’ll tell you a secret about fried oysters. There is NO fishy taste at all. And the oysters are the perfect compliment to fried batter! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! xoxoxo

          • Haha…Luanne, you’re great! I did have my Bloody Mary, yesterday! Hubby and I found a lovely pub while out and about for a walk (last of the downtime before back to work today), and I thought of you (were your ears burning???!!) and told him about our conversation! Darn it, I should have taken a photograph! And who knows, maybe 2017 is the year when I try a fried oyster…you are doing your best to pursuade me!!!! 😀 xoxoxoxox

            • Hahaha, THAT’s why my ears burned! Oh my gosh, that sounds so good! I’m going to be waiting to read that fried oyster blog post ;)! xo

              • Haha…IF I do Luanne, I will be sure to link back to you and give you all the credit, lol!!! I’ll be over to you very soon…still battling to get going here…arrrghhh!!!!! xoxox

  17. Yum-Yum! Reading your post has made me very hungry! 🙂 Happy Holidays to you and your family.

  18. I guess I never realised how lucky I am. If I like something I eat it, if I don’t, I don’t! Hope you had a good Christmas despite the problems. Best wishes for 2017 🙂

  19. I can relate to this so much!! My friends always hate that i have milion and one questions. but some times it is just a must.

    • I took a look at your blog, and it looks like you eat strictly gluten free? and minimal lactose? Do you have celiac? I’ll follow you and watch for recipes! I know restaurant servers often hate those questions, but they don’t know what it’s like being glutened when it makes you sick!

      • I have Crohn’s disease and really high intolerance / allergy on gluten since i was a little kid. Also have intolerance on lactose but i can deal with it on really minimal intake. I do eat strictly gluten free. And through years i found some really amazing recepies. And if you need any will be more than glad to share!! and thank you for likes, hope we will have plenty of great conversations! 🙂

        • Oh, I know Crohn’s can be so awful. I’m so sorry. My husband (and me too really) are like that with lactose. I can eat cheese, but milk makes me sick. But with him, who is more like you probably are, he has to eat farther down on the lactose chart than I do. I can have brie, for instance, but he gets sick if he eats more than a tiny bit. And of course evaporated milk and buttermilk are horrible for him. So glad to find you. Do you read Elyse’s blog? I’m pretty sure she has Crohn’s. https://fiftyfourandahalf.com/about/

          • That is same to me, thank god, here i can get preety much all i want lactoise free, and alot glutene free in last few years. before that it was real hell sometimes. 🙂 and thank you soooo much for recomendation!! i will look her up for shure! 🙂

  20. Reblogged this on Jonesing Foodie and commented:
    Fellow blogger’s inspired experience in the Big Easy.

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