Master of Arts (MA)


French Studies

Document Type



New Orleans’ culinary history is amongst the most rich and storied of any American city, yet very few academic works have addressed this subject. While texts ranging from cookbooks to explorer’s journals offer glimpses into the evolution of the gastronomy of the city, the stories they present are often rife with myth, legend, and misinterpretation. Contemporary and historic authors also paint a misleading picture of the evolutionary processes involved in the creation of the cuisine and gastronomy of New Orleans, presenting a “melting-pot” model that portrays the culinary landscape of the city as a homogenous and over-simplified product of a vague set of contributions from a diverse set of nations, while ignoring the actual disparity in the contributions of these nations, as well as much of the contemporary evidence that links modern culinary and gastronomic practices to their Old World ancestors. This French-language work proposes that New Orleans’ cuisine and gastronomy as we know it today descends principally from French and West African cuisines, borrowing from a vast array of nations as it underwent various stages of creolization and culinary metamorphosis. Examining the food and foodways found in the restaurants, homes, and festivals of the city, this paper aims to trace the evolutionary process that transformed the dishes, practices, and ideas of the cuisines of francophone nations in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean into a cuisine often hailed as one of America’s finest. It seeks to identify the various methods of Americanization that have molded the modern culinary landscape of New Orleans and Louisiana, as well as to identify the multitude of vestiges that not only reinforce the historic ties between the food of New Orleans and that of its ancestral nations, but also disprove the assimilationist “melting pot” model. It is also perhaps the first work to analyze the collective influence of the French-speaking nations of the world on the cuisine and gastronomy of New Orleans.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Bernard Cerquiglini