Whether the 40th Jazz Fest is your second or thirty-second, it’s a good bet that you have a special Fest food on your mind. It’s the same with the wonderful musicians who entertain us at the various stages, so we decided to ask them what their favorite Jazz Fest foods are. Dive in, folks! The food is as good as the music — as it should be — in New Orleans.
Delfeayo Marsalis, trombonist
"I always get the fried shrimp po-boys. They've shrunk tremendously in size over the years, but I always remember going to hear my dad play and getting these massive sandwiches with my brother Ellis."
George Porter, Jr., bassist
"[My wife] Ara and I always go for the soft-shell crabs, because we just like soft-shell crabs and it don't matter who does it. That is one of maybe two foods you can't mess up."
Ingrid Lucia, vocalist
“I love the WWOZ Mango Freeze because it reminds me of the heladerias in Mexico where you can get exotic-tasting popsicles. I also love the crawfish pies; they are so tasty and easy to eat on a hot festival day, washed down by a cold, tall iced tea.”
Alex McMurray, singer/songwriter
"I always go for that fried chicken pretty quick. Mike Ward turned me on to it years ago. I also like to open the day with some fruit salad. I try to stay hydrated out there as I'm usually working and have gigs later in the evening. Once a year I get a bag of cracklins, I love it when the oil turns the bag translucent."
Paul Sanchez, singer/songwriter
"Easy-y-y-y- one. The trout baquet from Lil' Dizzy's. It's the first thing I must do upon entering the Fairgrounds. I usually go back again same day and once a day every time I go back to the Fest. It's a melt-in-your-mouth, transport-me-back-in-time sensory experience."
Margie Perez, singer/songwriter
"My Congo Square combo meal: JamaJama, plantains, and strawberry lemonade! Takes me back to the mothaland! I cool off with Ninja's seaweed salad or an ‘OZ Mango Freeze, yeah baby! Being Cuban, I love a good Cuban sandwich and the ones at the Fest are the best I've had in New Orleans.
Shamarr Allen, trumpeter
"Hey it's two things I have to have when I go to the Fairgrounds: strawberry lemonade from the lemonade stand, and yaka-mein and bread pudding from Ms. Linda. No joking, it really reminds me of a Sunday at my grandparents' house as a kid. My grandmother always kept a big jug of strawberry lemonade for her grandchildren and we had bread pudding at least once a month at her house. She died when I was 18 and I miss her a lot."
Tricia “Teedy” Boutté, vocalist
"Chicken fricassee and spinach! I love it! I feel like it may be one of the only healthy things that I eat during the Festival. My second, not-so-healthy but oh-so-good, must-have dish is soft-shell crab po-boy. Best in the galaxy! Of course I have to wash this down with a strawberry lemonade."
Washboard Chaz, washboardist/vocalist
"I always get a Cuban sandwich. It reminds me of my time in Key West when we could get them pretty cheap. Soft-shell crab po-boy, it just seems to taste better at the Fairgounds."
Glen David Andrews, trombonist
"Vaucresson sausage, the soft-shell crab po-boy, stuffed eggplant. I eat those a lot all year round. And the WWOZ Mango Freeze, which is the coolest thing in town besides me."
Jimmy Carpenter, saxophonist
"I almost always start the day with the pheasant, quail, and andouille gumbo. It's a little different every day, like gumbo should be, and I'll hit it 4 or 5 times during the Fest. Over toward the Gentilly stage near the shade tree are some ladies that do pralines and macaroons. Their pralines are great, but the macaroons are absolutely the best I've ever tasted. I'm a coconut lover, and they take it to a new level: crispy edges and a gooey middle."
Craig Klein, trombonist (Bonerama)
"I crave the soft-shell po-boys. I always have to get one 'cause I just love soft-shell crabs. It reminds me of the corner store in Arabi."
Holley Bendsten, vocalist (Pfister Sisters)
"I'm totally into the cochon de lait po-boy and get one either to eat there or take home every day I'm there. Ditto the sweet potato pone, because they are both something I would not ever cook at home and only eat once a year as Fest food!"
James Singleton, bassist
“The cochon de lait po-boy is definitely on my mind first day. It really kicks butt and makes me know it's time to rock 'n' roll. Later, between gigs I'll rock with the artichoke casserole and sweet potato pone, then I go home and eat greens!”
Jeff Albert, trombonist
"The one thing I have to get or it just doesn't feel like Jazz Fest is crawfish bread. I don't even remember who turned me on to it, but I know it goes back to my first day at my first Jazz Fest (1989). I ate it everyday I was there that year, and have had it at least once a year since."
Ben Sandmel, drummer and Interview Stage coordinator
"My favorite item is the WWOZ mango freeze — nice and cooling on hot days, great flavor, sweet but not too sweet."
soft-shell crab po-boys
well I loved them !
Did not realize that they were so popular.
And I tried some Alligator - was that a po-boy ?
I don't remember and obviously I missed a lot of other stuff. At least OZ Mango Freeze was not on the menu back then. But nonetheless I always circled around OZ's little spot to say hello and see what's up.
and what ABOUT those chicken livers?
This year's schedule has brought back last year's festival for me. Last year I had chicken livers with hot pepper jelly and biscuits that made me fall down on my knees, look up into the sky and weep. I ran back to the counter, grabbed the woman's hand and blessed the day the cook was born.
Can't wait to have a mangochill.