Beignets during pregame, crawfish for kickoff, pralines for dessert. That's a super taste of New Orleans.
Regardless of which two teams make Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, fans will be well fed. Host city New Orleans guarantees bon temps and great food.
And thanks to the Internet and mail order, revelers across the country can take a bite out of the Big Easy and feel (at least in spirit) like they're partying on Bourbon Street, too.
New Orleans flavor may be as close as your supermarket. The continuing popularity of Creole and Cajun cuisines has spread some Louisiana brands nationwide. That makes Super Bowl party planning a snap. Just pass the Tabasco!
Among other nationwide brands, Zatarain's is a versatile go-to favorite. A New Orleans tradition since 1889, the company offers box mixes for such mainstays as gumbo, jambalaya and red beans and rice, as well as traditional Creole seasonings. It's promoting "Do Game Day the New Orleans Way" with recipes and ideas at www.zatarains.com.
The "Magic Seasonings" of chef Paul Prudhomme, who made blackened redfish a national phenomenon, are widely available, lending Cajun flavor to seafood, chicken, steak and pork ribs.
Likewise, New Orleans-based Dixie Brewing Co.'s iconic beer is available from Sacramento-area sources (although post-Hurricane Katrina it's brewed outside New Orleans). Besides its namesake Dixie brand, the company also makes Blackened Voodoo lager; both are available at BevMo.
To sober up partygoers, Café du Monde's famous chicory coffee ($8.99 for a 15-ounce can) is a must. Find it at Cost Plus World Market.
But that Big Easy sampling is too easy. For a real taste of New Orleans, these online sources offer an authentic Louisiana feast in time for the big game.
Cajun cooking is renowned for its more unusual entrees such as crawfish, alligator and andouille sausage. A favorite of the Food Network, the Cajun Grocer, www.CajunGrocer.com, (888) 272-9347, sells hundreds of Louisiana delicacies at reasonable prices.
Among the party-ready picks: Seasoned boiled crawfish ($15.25 for 3 pounds, $120.95 for 30 pounds or $318.95 for 90 pounds); assorted cuts of farm-raised alligator (including four gator "burgers" or 1 pound of gator nuggets, $15.95); authentic andouille sausage ($6.70 a pound) and hickory-smoked tasso pork ($8.75 a pound).
In a city built on dining, the New Orleans School of Cooking, neworleansschoolofcooking.com (800) 237-4841, offers a wide range of "Made in Louisiana" products including authentic Cajun Creole Hot Nuts (spicy peanuts, $4.50 a pound), Camellia brand red beans ($2.79 a pound), Louisiana Fish Fry Dirty Rice mix ($2.75) and Café du Monde beignet mix ($3.99). Find them in the school's online General Store.
What's for dessert? Pralines pecan-packed brown sugar confections are New Orleans' signature candy.
Aunt Sally's, www.auntsallys.com, (800) 642-7257, ranks as New Orleans' favorite praline. Delicate Creole pralines ($25.99 a dozen) are made fresh from the same recipe the French Market shop has used since it opened in the 1930s.
The Aunt Sally's website also features other New Orleans signature products that no visitor forgets, such as Pat O'Brien's authentic powdered Hurricane mix ($11.99, enough for a gallon).
Or get 1 liter of the liquid Hurricane mix ($4.75) used in Pat O'Brien's original New Orleans bar and restaurant www.patobriens.com, (800) 597-4823. Just add rum.
Super Bowl comes just 10 days before Mardi Gras, which means it's also king cake time. Familiar to Mardi Gras veterans, king cake tastes like a giant Danish pastry or French brioche, depending on the bakery. It's filled with traditional cinnamon sugar or cream cheese, fruit or nuts.
The distinctive frosting green (for faith), yellow (for power) and purple (for justice) makes it feel festive. Another part of the king cake tradition, a tiny plastic baby, comes with the cake. It's hidden inside the dough (either before baking or by the host); whoever gets the baby in a slice will find good fortune all year.
Southern Living magazine rated several mail-order king cakes and came up with these top-rated picks:
Paul's World Famous King Cakes, www.paulspastry.com, (800) 669-5180, actually are made in Picayune, Miss., but this bakery offers a wide assortment of fillings and combination packages including the special Super Bowl King Cake featuring the NFL team of your choice; a $55.95 cake feeds 10 to 15 people.
Poupart Bakery, www.poupartsbakery.com, (337) 232-7921, in Lafayette, La., offers traditional king cakes and marzipan-filled French style, which tastes like a giant almond croissant; a $59 cake feeds 12 to 16.
Manny Randazzo King Cakes, https://www.randazzokingcake.com, (866) 456-1476, located in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, makes a very traditional, cinnamon-filled king cake, covered with thick white icing and colored sugars; they start at $48.95, enough for 20 to 24 slices.
How do you top off a real New Orleans feast? Don't forget the Alka-Seltzer.