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Calas, or Creole rice fritters, are a traditional dishes from Loretta's Authentic Pralines at Jazz Fest. 

Loretta Harrison is no stranger to Jazz Fest, and neither are calas. This year, though, both have a new slot in the food line up as the fest rolls on. 

Harrison's Marigny-based business Loretta’s Authentic Pralines has served sweets here for years. More recently, she's been adding to her creative Creole repertoire with beignets both savory (try the ambrosial crabmeat beignet) and sweet (the chocolate, my God).

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Loretta Harrison, founder of Loretta's Authentic Pralines, has developed special beignet recipes including the praline beignet, the crab beignet and the hamburger beignet.

Last year, Loretta’s also served calas during a one-year residency at the Cultural Exchange Pavilion. Now they are in the main food line up, with a new booth in Food Area 2. 

Calas deserve the marquee attention. These rice fritters were once as common around New Orleans as beignets, though today they’re much harder to find. Whenever they turn up it feels like a revival.

Made from rice and flour, these fritters were once a thrifty way to make a new meal from leftover rice, that cornerstone of so many New Orleans dishes. Through history, they were linked to the African American women who sold them on the city streets.

In addition to the conventional calas topped with powdered sugar, she has sweet potato and savory shrimp versions.

Her sweet potato calas have a texture like bread pudding shot through with rice, and they’re topped with a thick, sweet syrup with hunks of sweet potato.

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Calas rice fritters are a traditional dishes from Loretta's Authentic Pralines at Jazz Fest. 

My favorite, though, was still the traditional calas, with their crinkly-crisp shell and soft inner texture. At $4 for three calas, it’s also a good deal among the Jazz Fest snacks.


Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.