I’ve been eating my way through Jazz Fest this weekend, revisiting old favorites from the food vendors and also experimenting with the potential of dishes from different booths joining forces on the plate.
Jazz Fest food is exceptional, and there’s a good reason why it rarely changes: people have made certain dishes part of their Jazz Fest tradition.
But another defining aspect of Jazz Fest is the way people make the event their own, bringing their own style and rituals to the experience.
In that spirit, these mash up noshes started with cracklin’ and cochon de lait and quickly found other inspirations as the weekend rolled on.
Next up is one of the most famous Jazz Fest dishes, crawfish Monica, and one of my own personal favorites, Guil’s gator.
The first is well known - rotini pasta and crawfish gleaming under a creamy sauce. The second dish is a boat of fried alligator chunks, topped with fried onion strings and, the key ingredient: fried jalapeño rings.
To give your crawfish Monica an extra kick, you can douse it with Crystal hot sauce provided at the booth. Or you can do this: walk your crawfish Monica over from Food Area II to the Guil’s gator booth at Food Area I and top the pasta with those pepper rings. More than just heat, they add a fried crunch and an earthy funk of fried jalapeño. It becomes an old favorite with a new edge.
Gator + gator
What to do with the Guil’s gator you’ve now deconstructed? Easy, just eat it. It’s still plenty flavorful.
Or, you can double down with another ad hoc combination. Add the fried gator chunks to the alligator sauce piquante from Fireman Mike’s Kitchen at Food Area I. The sauce piquante is an exceptional dish on its own. Add the crisp fried gator to the tender stewed gator it already has and you’ve multiplied the texture and flavor. Just eat this one promptly, before the fried gator gets soggy in the sauce.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.