Festival food - so far

by Anna Purdy

There is local and international music, there are weird and cool things for sale in tents around downtown and there is the second most famous Louisiana export after music: amazing food.

After the opening ceremonies officially heralding in the 25th Festival International de Louisiane, the gastronomic journey officially begins. It's good to be at Festival with people you know and love - someone to hold your drink when you use the bathroom, someone to give you their last drink ticket because you've got an odd number and certainly someone who says "TRY THIS!" to you, excitedly holding our their fork or spoon.

Last night The Independent's intrepid photographer, Robin May, got Fezzo's fried catfish topped with seafood etoufée. For $7, it's a steal. The catfish isn't fried to death, it's tender and meaty. The seafood etoufée is filled with crawfish and is not too heavy to have on a stomach that is walking the Festival route. Even the rice was quite good. (You can actually get the dish for $6 if you 86 the rice, so those fearing carbs may rejoice.)

Every year my dear friend Michael and I talk excitedly about Festival and invariably the first thing that comes up is crawfish boats. We discovered them several years ago after watching people milling about with these bread bowls filled with some concoction that we just knew we had to try. So we asked people where they got these objects of our culinary desires and lo and behold - Bon Creole is the giver.

Bon Creole is this little restaurant in New Iberia that comes to town for Festival and makes me wish they would build a second restaurant in my backyard. Crawfish boats are huge bread bowls filled with a creamy crawfish and spinach dish. The best part is after you eat the crawfish you have the soaked bread bowl to munch on. It's hearty, it's seafood, and it's what we look forward to every year. This year Michael is gone so I have to eat more than my share, but that's all right, I won't complain. And if you are afraid of cooked spinach, don't worry- I only write about food that passes muster with my very picky fiance, and even after he fussed about my revered crawfish boat having spinach that I didn't tell him about, he took one bite and got very down with it.

Do you have a favorite dish you've tried? Tell us in the comments.