New Orleans is a testament to living history. Entire neighbourhoods, buildings, cobblestone streets and ancient oaks are markers of bygone eras. The history of New Orleans has turned the city into a colourful and exciting destination.
The History of New Orleans
Claimed for the French crown by explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1682, La Nouvelle-Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and became the capital of the French Colony in 1723. The city developed around the Vieux Carré (Old Square), a central square from which the French Quarter evolved.
A vital trading and commercial hub, Spain took control of New Orleans in 1763 and this 37 year rule can still be seen in the city’s street names and architecture, like the Cabildo and the Presbytere. This period also reflected Spain’s more liberal views on race that fostered a class of free people of colour.
In 1800, the Spanish ceded Louisiana back to France but after only 3 years Napoleon sold the city and the French Colony to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. Despite this sale the residents of New Orleans held tight to their Francophile ways. Language and customs, cuisine, opera and social mores were still French. A sophisticated and cosmopolitan society was created by the Creoles (the American-born offspring of European settlers) in New Orleans. This French influence can still be seen in the Creole cottages, the Ursuline Convent and Charity Hospital as well as the streets of the French Quarter.
War of Independence & Civil War Eras
The British tried to claim the land during the War of Independence in 1812 but Andrew Jackson turned back more than 7,500 British soldiers, forcing them to abandon the area and ending the war.
As American plantation owners prospered, the French and Creoles of New Orleans socially rejected these nouveau riche. This led to the Americans staying across Canal Street in their own neighbourhoods.
In the mid-1800s, the highest concentration of millionaires in America could be found between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, fortunes founded on the slave trade and huge sugar plantations along the Mississippi River. Louisiana sugar plantations produced an estimated 450 million pounds of sugar per year, worth more than $20 million in the 1850s.
Elegant mansions were built by these millionaires on their plantations. Both depended heavily on slaves, one of the key motivators of the American Civil War. Union troops occupied New Orleans but the city didn't fight back, thus sparing itself from destruction. This signalled the end of New Orleans halcyon days, an era to become known as Antebellum (after the war).
After the war there was poverty, racial tension and governmental chaos. The city’s plantation owners could not match their antebellum success but the port of New Orleans preserved its essential status, as it does to this day.
Discover the period at the Old U.S. Mint, the only Confederate mint and the oldest U.S. mint in existence; or visit Louisiana’s Civil War Museum in the Warehouse District; see the statue of Margaret Gaffney Haughery, a beloved Irish immigrant whose bakery supplied bread to hungry families during the war and founder of orphanages, in the Lower Garden District.
World War II
New Orleans played a special role in the second world war. Shipbuilder and local industrialist Andrew Higgins invented a boat designed to float in Louisiana’s shallow water swamps and marshes. Built in local shipyards, “Higgins Boats” were used throughout the war for getting soldiers, vehicles and equipment off big ships to shore, most notably during the D-day invasion on the Normandy beaches.
After WWII land reclamation allowed New Orleans to expand. Similarly the history of New Orleans continues to create a city of rich culture, an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods - from the funky, bohemian Bywater all the way to the oak-lined Garden District, and civic pride. There's something for every type of traveller from authentic live music, historic architecture and vibrant nightlife.
New Orleans was an important port for trade with the Caribbean quickly becoming a target for piracy. Brothers Jean and Pierre Lafitte were perhaps the most infamous. Visit Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, the base of these pirates, which claims to be the oldest structure housing a bar in the United States.
The first Mardi Gras in the United States was celebrated in March 1699 when Iberville and Bienville landed at the mouth of the Mississippi River on Mardi Gras, 60 miles south of New Orleans. They named the spot Point du Mardi Gras and celebrated with their men. By the 1730s the Mardi Gras was celebrated with parties and street fairs.
In 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized a torch-lit Carnival procession. The present-day New Orleans Mardi Gras with marching bands and floats can be traced to this celebration.
Speak of New Orleans and you immediately think of jazz. Evolving in the late 19th century, jazz combined ragtime, blues, spirituals and the American songbook, a result of the diverse ethnic and racial groups — French, Spanish, African, Italian, German, and Irish — found in New Orleans.
The 1920s roared along the Mississippi, ignoring Prohibition and welcoming travellers. Authors, artists and the adventurous discovered the French Quarter. Le Petit Theater was opened on St. Peter Street. New Orleans provided the soundtrack to the era.
The city’s music is its beating heart. The musical notes of jazz, brass, R&B and soul fill the air along with night–blooming jasmine. Walk down Frenchmen Street, in the Marigny neighbourhood and take in the vibrant cafes, music clubs and restaurants including Snug Harbor, dba. and the Spotted Cat.
New Orleans has produced musical giants like Louis Armstrong, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. New acts follow in the tradition at Preservation Hall on Bourbon Street, Mother-In-Law Lounge on Claiborne Avenue, Rock-N-Bowl in Mid-City, the Maple Leaf Uptown and Vaughn’s in the Bywater where you can dance the night away. It’s all part of the magic that is found only in New Orleans.
New Orleans has a love affair with its traditional fare. Join the romance over by crawfish etouffe at a smart restaurant or with a bowl of gumbo at a backstreet bistro. Grab a po-boy sandwich stuffed with fried oysters for a picnic. This heady mix of Creole, Cajun and Anglo-American cuisine is totally unique. Discover the most famous dishes below.
New Orleans King Cakes
New Orleans Pralines
In a city steeped in history, New Orleans has a history of mixing innovative cocktails. Antoine Amédé Peychaud, is thought to have mixed the very first Sazerac in his pharmacy on Royal Street in the 1830s. From an eye-opening Brandy Milk Punch to a flaming Café Brûlot, the quintessential Crescent City nightcap, raise a glass to New Orleans’ past and a toast the city’s most famous cocktails.
New Orleans is a great destination for any time of year and any type of holiday. Speak to us to plan your food adventure in the Big Easy.
The Brexit process seems to keep dragging on and on. Don't let it get you down. Time to plan your escape - at least temporarily. Brits are booking just as many holidays as ever, so at least the uncertainty of Brexit has not managed to take all the joy out of life! Here's some inspiration for your next journey.
Africa is a large continent with a huge array of vistas and activities so you can expect to find something to suit everyone. With its breathtaking natural beauty, contrasts diversity, your holiday to Africa will certainly be unforgettable.
For luxury resorts head to the north to Morocco and Egypt. This is a side of Africa full of history and a different culture to the rest of the continent. Fringed by the Mediterranean it is only a short flight too. Combine beach, city and a river cruise for the ultimate Egyptian experience. Whilst in Morocco visitors can combine desert, mountains, city and beach life.
Located about half way down Africa on the east coast, Kenya is a paradise for outdoor lovers. With its soft powdery beaches, snow-capped mountains, endless savannah and the vastness of Lake Victoria, Kenya can give you once in a lifetime experiences, like wildlife spotting on a safari.
Let's not forget South Africa, the rainbow nation. From bustling cities like Cape Town and Durban to splendid game reserves where you can view the 'big 5' - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape Buffalo. There are also mountain retreats and scenic coastal drives, not to mention great shopping and museums in Johannesburg. Fancy a tour around awe-inspiring Victoria Falls or a great wine tasting tour around Stellenbosch? Whatever your lifestyle you will find the perfect holiday in South Africa.
Why not head over to our Offers page and search for our latest Africa deals now (select holiday type then country).
England is a beautiful, surprising, historic and wonderful place. Why go abroad when there is so much to see here? From historic castles to lush green countryside to stunning coastline to ancient ports and activities galore.
Following the Brexit vote there is even more reason to stay in the UK, what with rising prices and the falling value of sterling. Get more bang for your buck in dear old Blighty. Visit extraordinary historic houses, castles and towns. The list is endless and no matter where you go, the United Kingdom is steeped in history everywhere you look. Along with this there is a huge range of accommodation to suit every pocket. There is also plenty to do from outdoor pursuits to craft workshops to museums, cinemas and childrens' activities.
Great Britain now produces excellent food and drink and is a haven for the foodie. Drink in the local brews in Kent, where not only is there the oldest brewery in England but also a multitude of vineyards, not to mention great pubs. Or head to Somerset where cider is king. Tour an orchard and learn how cider is made. Sample excellent local produce in West Sussex with a trip to a dairy to learn how to make cheese. Artisan producers of all types of gourmet foods abound, as do award winning vineyards. Take a trip into East Sussex and tour a quaint old brewery in Lewes.
There are so many amazing sights to see away from the obvious tourist attractions in Britain. In Yorkshire take a trip on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and learn the history of the longest canal tunnel in the world at Standedge in Marsden, West Yorkshire. Taste remarkably good wines at one of the most northerly vineyards in the country, whilst you take a break from touring the breathtaking moorland scenery. Or head to the seaside at Whitby with its ancient abbey and old fishermans cottages.
England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland offer some amazing choices for short or long breaks. With steam railways, mountains, lakes, rivers both fast and slow and of course endless coastline. Whether you love adrenaline sports like zorbing or white water rafting or prefer to read a newspaper in a pub with a roaring fire - you will certainly find a holiday to suit you in the UK.
Tasteful Travel design bespoke UK tours so why not book a consultation now? We also have a range of short breaks and accommodation so check out our latest offers here. If you need some inspiration for your travel planning just head over to our Destinations page and get booking your staycation now.
Celebrate Halloween with these tasty traditional recipes from different parts of the globe.
Most people believe that the modern day traditions of Halloween stem from the pagan and Celtic celebration of Samhain (meaning the end of the light half of the year). Today in Ireland and Scotland, Halloween is celebrated with bonfires, games, and traditional foods like barmbrack, an Irish fruitcake that contains coins, buttons, and rings for fortunetelling. The name comes from the Gaelic bairin breac meaning speckled bread. It is spiced and richly fruited to comfort you on a cold night.
DIA DE LOS MEURTOS, MEXICO
Pan de Muerto, or “bread of the dead”, is a sweet bread baked during the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This day is celebrated in Mexico on the first 2 days of November. It is a light sweet bread shaped either as one round loaf or many smaller round rolls. Both loaves and rolls are decorated with bone-shaped strips of dough to honour the dearly departed.
Pan de Muerto
HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL, CHINA & SOUTH EAST ASIA
Although not celebrated at the same time as Halloween or the other festivals surrounding All Souls Day, we have included the Hungry Ghost Festival as it is rooted in the beliefs of restless spirits of the dead. The Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, which falls in July or August.
The spirits are 'fed' during the month long celebration with offerings of food and money (burning paper). The living are fed with many delicacies, including Teochew braised duck and these amazing rice patties.
All Saints Day on 1st November is known as Ognissanti in Italy. Chrysanthemums or other flowers are left on the graves of loved ones as well as strangers, bringing graveyards ablaze with colour. Red candles are also left in house windows at sunset and a place is laid at the table in the hope that the departed will visit.
Traditional food varies around the regions but most are a variation of bread or biscuits. Here's a recipe from Lombardy for Oss da mort meaning “bones to bite”. They are lightly spiced, crunchy almond biscuits which they should resemble dry bones and are meant to honour the deceased.
Oss da Mort
The biscuits will be still a little soft when you take them out of the oven but they will crisp up once cool. If still not as crunchy as you would like them when cool then you can put them back in the oven for 10-15 minutes more.
Oss de mord are really excellent dipped in Marsala or with morning caffelatte.
DZIEŃ ZADUSZNY, POLAND
In Poland, All Saints Day and All Souls Day on the 1st and 2nd November respectively, is the time to visit the graves of family members. The holiday is celebrated with candles, flowers, and an offering of prayers for departed relatives at the cemetaries. From pagan times, women would traditionally bake special bread and kutia (wheat berry pudding) for souls on the Zaduszki holiday. The food was brought to the cemetery and given to the poor, children, clerics, or simply left on the graves, believing that this would help to bring wealth and prosperity. Nowadays the special bread and sweets are still made. Here is a recipe for one of them.
There are many more traditions and delicacies associated with the season of Halloween, All Hallows Eve and All Souls Day but its nearly time to go trick or treating! Have a wonderful time remembering the dead and enjoy the recipes.
When the temperature falls and we are headed for winter, roast chestnuts are the perfect cold weather snack. Whether cooked on an open fire, in the oven or bought from a street vendor, people enjoy this inexpensive treat. Chestnuts are pretty good for you too - low in fat, high in fibre, and carrying a good amount of vitamin C, manganese, potassium and iron.
Sweet chestnut trees grow everywhere in Greece, from Macedonian forests in the north and all the way to the slopes of the mountains of Crete in the south.
Guest writer, Peris Tastsidis, tells me that "One of the loveliest memories I have of my mother (who spent her childhood in a cold mountainous town on Mount Olympus), was sitting around the fireplace and eating roast chestnuts together."
In Greek towns and cities from Thessaloniki to Athens, you will find chestnuts as part of cream cakes in elegant patisseries.
The chestnut harvest is cause for celebration in many parts of Greece. Join the locals in mountainous villages, particularly in Messinia, Arcadia, the Peloponnese and in the city of Trikala in central Greece for Chestnut feast festivals. Along with the celebration of roast chestnuts is plenty of food, music and dancing. These events are great to include in gourmet tours, they make a great addition to any itinerary.
Chestnut season coincides with celebrations of wine, so any foodie really should make a visit to one of these fun events. Savour roast chestnuts with a glass of wine or the local tsiporou spirit whilst mingling with the crowd, enjoying the accordion and guitar music.
Sounds like fun? Get in touch to plan your trip to a chestnut festival in Greece.
Greece has everything the traveller needs. Awe inspiring sightseeing, miles of beaches of every kind, hundreds of islands to visit and great weather for two thirds of the year. What it also has is fabulous gastronomy. The country still suffers from a terrible reputation for poor food gained from the sub-standard fare served to tourists in mass market hotels, the ubiquitous giros, and the limited menu on offer in Greek restaurants around the world. But Greece's cuisine today is actually fresh and fabulous. Today top chefs are developing a fusion of the traditional with a modern style. This rediscovery of Greek food heritage is winning acclaim and makes Greece a real foodie destination.
Foremost exponents of the reconstruction of well-known Greek dishes are Georgianna Chiliadaki & Nikos Roussos. Owners of Funky Gourmet in Athens, they have been awarded two Michelin stars for their avant guard twist on classics such as Pastitsio (macaroni with mince) and Horiatiki (Greek salad).
Fresh local ingredients are now being celebrated by renowned chefs such as Alexandros Kardasis and Sotiris Evangelou. No mention of top Greek chefs would be complete without Michelin starred Ettore Botrini. His restaurants in Corfu, Athens and now Rhodes set the bar high. Botrini can be seen on the Greek version of 'Kitchen Nightmares' and has published many recipe books. All of these chefs and many more are ensuring that Greek's culinary tradition is preserved but also taken to another level of excellence.
Greece has always produced top quality olive oil, fruit and vegetables and of course seafood. What many people don't know is that the more mountainous regions produce a vast range of cheeses - it's not just all about feta! The meat is some of the most succulent I have ever eaten, despite the preference for serving well done in most tavernas, even today. Instead of taking these great ingredients for granted, Greek chefs are now celebrating them.
Crete has been at the forefront in the revival of traditional Greek cooking since the 1990s. It's produce is excellent due to the long growing season and the Cretan people's connection to the land. Along with other notable regions and islands, Santorini with it's fertile volcanic soil, the Peleponnese and Halkidiki with their world famous olives, there is so much variety in produce and cuisine to try in Greece.
All over Greece there are now opportunities for the foodie tourist to experience this first hand. Cookery classes, olive oil tastings, bakery demonstrations and all manner of meals are on offer. From the rustic to the very grand, you can find it all in Greece.
Celebrate the great culinary come back on a Tasteful Travel Greece tour. Get in touch to find out more.
Avid travellers like to understand more about the culture and history of all the places they travel to. If you are one such traveller, better your travel experience through a themed gastro tour.
1. Eat Like a Local
Avoid the tourist traps with their expensive and often poor quality offerings. Be shown those hidden gems where the locals eat and dine well. Experience authentic.
2. Experience Local
Immerse yourself in the country or region you are travelling through by meeting local producers and trying their wares. Get hands-on with baking or foraging, or fancy trying chocolate making? Whatever a region offers you can be sure you'll discover the cuisine and culture of it on a food tour.
3. Small Groups
To get the best experience on a food tour a small group is essential. No more struggling to hear the guide or waiting in line to be fed. Groups of 10-15 allow you to get the most our of the foodie experience and it's a great number to get round a table or two.
4. Expert Gourmet Guides
Learn about the history and culture surrounding the cuisine of the region from an expert. They may be local guides or well travelled tour managers but all have a wealth of knowledge to pass on to you. Try new ingredients or ways of cooking in a relaxed and fun environment.
The beauty of travelling on a food tour is that you don't have to worry about a thing. All the planning has been done for you. Visits to producers and restaurants have all be pre-booked and you'll be taken there in comfort. Your tour manager will make sure that all runs smoothly. You just have to enjoy!
6. Carefully Selected Tastings & Eateries
A gourmet tour is lovingly put together to ensure that you get the most authentic culinary experience of the region. From fine dining to cream teas, farmers markets to vineyard visits, you can be sure that only the best of the local venues are chosen.
7. Local Stories
Food history isn't boring. It forms such a fundamental part of local life and culture that it is a fascinating subject to find out about. Stories around the dinner table have been part of human life since the dawn of time. Be part of a foodie group and have fun while you learn.
8. Delicious Food
You can be sure that on a gourmet tour you'll be taken on a food adventure. It is absolutely certain that you will eat really tasty food on the way. From tasting menus to tasting platters, fresh oysters to local cheeses, whatever you try it will delight your pallet.
9. All Inclusive Food Experience
All of the tasting experiences and meals are included in the price of a gourmet tour so no unexpected bills to pay. Even the gratuities are paid. Your guide or tour manager will take care of all payments. But if you want to take some produce home with you, don't leave your wallet behind!
10. Delight Your Senses
Food tours will bring all your senses to life. Hear the buzz of the neighbourhood, see and feel new produce, smell the wonderful aromas, taste the delicious food. On a gourmet tour you will: See. Taste. Learn.
Book your next food adventure with Tasteful Travel.
If you want to experience a traditional bakery in Rhodes, then a visit to the Apolloniatisses is essential. Set in a village on the slopes of Profitis Ilias mountain, the road is winding but oh so worth travelling, with stunning views en route.
Why should you visit?
Set in a village on the slopes of Profitis Ilias mountain, the Appollonia Bakery is well worth a visit.
A women's co-operative, the nine ladies are dedicated to using local produce in their bread, jams and liqueurs. The road is winding but oh so worth travelling, with stunning views en route. In the bakery they also make a selection of the traditional biscuits 'koulouraki' of all shapes.
Their members keep bees, make jam and liqueurs, grow herbs and olives, and ensure that the Appollonia Bakery is stocked with lots of delicious products for their customers.
They will let you try before you buy, so make a trip to this artisan bakery as part of your holiday to Rhodes. Let Tasteful Travel arrange your discovery of Greek cuisine for you.
After the Romans left British shores in the early 5th century, it left the country open to invasion. Tribes in what is now Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands were faced with war, shortage of land to grow food because of increasing population and flooding of low-lying land. News of England's fertile land and ease of invasion reached the Angle, Saxon and Jute tribes. These tribes were a fearsome warrior people and easily subdued the local Britons.
Added to this the Britons in the north were being threatened by the Picts and Scotis now that the Romans were not defending the border. Some Briton chieftains made deals with these European invaders for their mercenary services in return for land. This led to the first establishment of Saxons on the Isle of Thanet. Going forward they settled in large numbers in the south of the British Isles.
Although the leaders continued to be warriors, the rest were predominantly farmers. Their contribution to the history of England was significant, giving the country the bulk of the language we speak today. The Saxon methods of farming were much more efficient than previously and gave a great deal more variety to the diet. It was pretty healthy cuisine, varied if not very fancy.
Saxons farmed the land, kept livestock, foraged, hunted and fished. Barley, spelt, wheat, rye and oats were grown. Spelt and wheat for bread, barley for brewing and oats for animal fodder and porridge. Cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry were kept and bred. Eggs, milk and cheese added variety to the diet, as well as nuts, fruit and fungi in season. Meat would have been provided mainly by hunting and Saxons would have dried and salted it for preservation. Only pigs were grown and consumed as a source of meat. I guess that from this came the British love of the bacon buttie!
Vegetables were widely used, although it is not clear whether these were cultivated or foraged. Saxons certainly had purple carrots, the ancestors of the large orange ones we have today. A parsnip-like vegetable called white carrot was also available and wild cabbages. Legumes were grown, such as beans. There is some controversy as to whether peas were grown or whether they came to England with the Normans. Wild roots were collected, such as burdock and rape. To give flavour onions and leeks were cultivated and many herbs, such as wild garlic, sorrel and lamb's tongue grew wild. Other herbs like mint and mustard were grown near Saxon houses for daily use.
Fruit was foraged for, such as crab apples, rosehips, sloes and bilberries, plums, cherries, strawberries and blackberries. All of these were seasonal and most probably cultivated as time went on.
Flavourings were not readily available but the Saxons were traders and some spices would have been imported. Honey was the sweetener and also used in mead, an alcoholic beverage. Wine was made from various fruit but grape wine would mostly have been imported and so only available to the rich. Beer was much more widely drunk, especially as water was not always safe to drink. Cider was also made and was widely available. For alcohol free beverages the Saxons made fruit infusions and juices.
Interested in history and gastronomy? Find out more on a bespoke historically themed tour in the UK tailored just for you.