Family Travel, Holidays

Thanksgiving the New Orleans Way

It’s all about your mom and ‘dem, the food and the quirky traditions only

a New Orleanian could understand!

Home cookin’:
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the dishes that your mama made, her mama made and her mama made before that! We’ve got our tried and true dishes: oyster and cornbread stuffing, mirliton casserole with crawfish, crabmeat and shrimp, and rice dressing (made with dirty rice – yeah you rite!). And in place of the traditional turkey, you might be having a turducken (that’s a chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey) or a fried turkey cooked in a big pot of boiling oil in the backyard. Hold onto the bones to make a turkey bone gumbo once the leftovers are gone.
The fun:
Lots of New Orleans families spend Thanksgiving Day at the New Orleans Fair Grounds, where dinner includes a fancy spread at the Fair Grounds Clubhouse or a casual buffet in the Grandstand. What to do: eat and bet on the $100,000 Thanksgiving Day handicap race. What to watch: The hats — it’s all about the hats!
And the music!
If you haven’t heard of the Battle of the Bands (for the Bayou Classic), well, get your hearing checked (preferably in time to go watch it this year!) Each Thanksgiving weekend, two big Louisiana football rivals, Grambling State and Southern University meet in the Superdome, for their biggest game of the year. It all starts with a huge parade from the Superdome to the French Quarter, as both schools’ bands strut their stuff. And do they ever! The Battle of the Bands is almost as big a draw, and rivalry, as the football game itself.
Eating out:
To some people, Thanksgiving means not cooking, and instead, getting dressed up and heading to one of the city’s fine dining establishments. One of the longest running traditions is the Thanksgiving Table D’Hôte at Arnaud’s in the French Quarter. Guests typically enjoy a prix-fixe menu that includes Turkey with Cornbread or Oyster Stuffing with Cranberry Sauce and Candied Yams, Shrimp Arnaud and Pumpkin Roulade. Muriel’s, on Jackson Square, is another popular choice, with a special menu that includes Seafood Gumbo, Pumpkin Gnocchi, Oven Roasted Turkey and Pumpkin Pie Crème Brûlée.
Whatever your tradition, making it distinctly New Orleans is one of the things we do well!

-nola family staff

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