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New Orleans Specialty Foods
The Union naval blockade of the port of New Orleans during the Civil War led to sudden scarcity of many commodities, including coffee. So just as the French did during the blockades of the Napoleonic wars, resourceful New Orleanians stretched their precious stock of imported coffee by mixing it with ground, roasted chicory root, which they could grow locally. Though an invention of wartime necessity, the chicory blend was embraced for the mellow caramel undertones and smooth texture it added to the coffee.
New Orleans style pralines have their origin in 18th century France. There once lived a French Marshal and Diplomat named Cesar du Plessis-Praslin (pronounced prah-lin). His chef invented a recipe for coating almonds in sugar, to be consumed as a digestive aid. He named the confection pralines, after Marshal Praslin. Today, the word “praline” is common throughout France and Belgium to describe any confection made with nuts.