Get the Jay D's Holiday Bundle for only $39, free shipping on orders of $50 or more with code SAUCY

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Jazz Feast: The Food Festival within a Festival

by Blair "B-Rex" Loup
New food vendor, Squeal BBQ's Smoky Bacon Greens and classic Jazz Fest favorite, Fried Green Tomatoes
Squeal BBQ's Smoky Bacon Greens and Jazz Fest favorite Fried Green Tomatoes

Though the Jazz Fest line-up changes every year, there are a couple of things that typically remain consistent: the crowds and the food vendors. It’s been a long-running joke that a food vendor has to die before another new vendor gets the chance to dish out grub to hungry music fans.

Blair Loup and her brother Jake at Jazz Fest waiting to see Hozier play.
Blair Loup and her brother Jake at Jazz Fest waiting to see Hozier play.
As it turns out, this year a handful of food vendors chose to retire, bringing a few new bites to the food market. I dragged my older brother Jake to the festival opening day to help me eat…and to see the devastatingly beautiful Hozier play.

We enjoyed some of the classics: fried green tomatoes, cochon de lait po-boy, sweet potato turnover, etc. But the smoky bacon greens from new food vendor Squeal landed at the top of our list.

There are a lot of classic Jazz Fest foods, and while we didn’t get the chance to eat all of them, I finally tried one of the most famous of Jazz Fest bites for the first time. I have been a fest goer for a little over half a decade and had never tried crawfish bread. After one bite, I’d be willing to get a heart tattooed on my shoulder with crawfish bread inscribed at its center. Below are a handful of the foods and beverages I saw and had the pleasure of ingesting:





Rose mint tea at Jazz Fest is one of those things I can't live without. It's herbaceous and sweetened with local honey. It's the bee knees, and if you haven't tried it you need to reevaluate your life choices.

Rose Mint Tea
Rose Mint Tea

While fried chicken and jambalaya aren't hard to come by in Louisiana, there are a lot of festival attendees from out of state. While we take it for granted, the food at Jazz Fest is an all new discovery for those who come from all over the country. I saw people chomping down on this crispy fried chicken all day and smiling ear to ear.

Classic Fried Chicken and Jambalaya
Classic Fried Chicken and Jambalaya

The cochon de lait po-boy is a must-have at Jazz Fest. This hefty fellow is packed with succulent pork that's perfect if you're planning on indulging in a few beers or daiquiris between shows...or throughout the day.

Cochon de Lait Po-Boy
Cochon de Lait Po-Boy

Thanks to the festival gods, we find ourselves in the midst of crawfish season during Jazz Fest. There's no smell as tantalizing as a fresh pot of boiled crawfish. It's not a five pound tray of crawfish, but it's enough to get a taste. As previously mentioned, boiled crawfish is a delicacy to all, but curiously pursued by those who travel to the fest... hopefully with elastic in their waistbands. 

Boiled Crawfish
Boiled Crawfish

I noticed a man walking by with what looked like the ultimate trio of deliciousness. A crispy fried oyster po-boy accompanied by fluffy, savory crawfish beignets drowned in a cream sauce would be a sin to enjoy even if you stopped there. However, to also wash them down with a sweet blackberry cobbler... I love Louisiana.

From left to right: Fried Oyster Po-Boy, Blackberry Cobbler, and Crawfish Beignets
From left to right: Fried Oyster Po-Boy, Blackberry Cobbler, and Crawfish Beignets

Squeal BBQ stepped up to the plate to replace a former BBQ vendor at the fest. The line outside their booth seemed constant throughout the day. Hopefully they'll be back next year slinging more of their tasty 'que to fest goers!

BBQ Chicken Sandwich (left) and BBQ Brisket Sandwich (right) from Squeal BBQ
BBQ Chicken Sandwich (left) and BBQ Brisket Sandwich (right) from Squeal BBQ

Finally, after 24 years of searching, I found love. I don't know what I expected, but the crawfish bread at Jazz Fest lived up to every bit of hype I've ever heard. A religious experience within itself, crawfish bread is cheesy, spicy, buttery, and all I want until the end of time.

Crawfish Bread
Crawfish Bread

Bite and Booze Bonus: Don't skip on the sweets. Most of the bands I go to see at Jazz Fest perform on the Gentily Stage. Along the way, a small booth laid tucked away from the crowd serving up some of the most delicious Macaroons I've tasted. Also, on your way to the market (heading from the Acura Stage to the Gentily Stage side) stop and grab a sweet potato turnover!