What’s on your itinerary for Jazz Fest? Ask some New Orleanians that question and you might hear the name crawfish Monica before Alanis Morissette.

At Jazz Fest, the food is not just along for the ride. It is a major part of the heritage in the event’s full New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival name.

For those who treat the festival as a rite of spring, reconvening with favorite dishes is part of the ritual, and certainly part of the anticipation as Jazz Fest returns this week (April 25-28 and May 2-5)

So, in the spirit of the “Jazz Fest cubes” that help people schedule a day of music among the various stages, I’m debuting Jazz Fest food cubes to map out your eating itinerary.

Can't see copy of cubes below? Click here.

Instead of stage and start time, food cubes help you align what you’re craving with the particular needs that arise during a day at Jazz Fest.

There is the crucial first taste, because I know I’m not the only one who makes a beeline from the entry gate to a food booth upon arrival.

The final dish of the day also is vital, because it’s the last flavor you take with you as you stroll back into real life (or what passes for it during festival time in New Orleans).

In between, you might seek food as therapy for the excesses of the night before, or as relief from a day at the mercy of Louisiana weather. You might want a full meal to fill up for the long haul, and eventually, you’ll probably want some no-fuss, self-contained snack to gobble as you weave through the crowds between stages.

Everyone needs a boost during a day at the fest, and sometimes all you really want is a po-boy. The food cubes have you covered.

I divide the field between iconic dishes of Jazz Fest (the main acts), some acclaimed alternatives (B-sides) and the lesser known sleeper hits. I’ve included vegetarian options, the best desserts, combo plates from the same booth for big appetites and my own obsession with DIY mash-ups, combining different dishes for your own creations (you know Widespread Panic will do something in the same spirit on stage too, right?)

The Jazz Fest food lineup doesn’t change too much, which is just fine for many a seasoned Jazz Fest veteran. The picks encapsulated in these cubes are based on consistent past experience. There are a few new, modified and returning dishes at Jazz Fest this year, which I’ll be sizing up in due time.


Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.