food and beverage underground

Christmas In New Orleans (Reveillon)

by Chef Sockrider
(New Orleans)

Derived from the French word for awakening, reveillon originally Derived from the French word for awakening, reveillon originally was a meal served after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Early New Orleans was almost entirely Catholic, and virtually the entire community would participate in these ceremonies. Families would return from the late-night service famished and set upon a feast prepared in advance and laid out on the table or sideboard. A typical early reveillon menu looked very much like breakfast, with egg dishes, breads and puddings, but could also include turtle soup, oysters and grillades of veal. Naturally, the Creoles accompanied these rich repasts with wines, cordials and other fortified drinks. The dinners could last for many hours and by some accounts even until dawn.

Through the 19th century, American holiday conventions like Christmas trees, gifts for children and shopping frenzies began gradually to establish themselves in New Orleans and supplant many of the Creole traditions. By the turn of the century, reveillon dinners could be found only in traditional homes, and by the 1940s the custom was all but extinct.

In the 1990s, however, the reveillon tradition was 'reawakened' and transformed. The organization French Quarter Festivals Inc., interested in attracting travelers to New Orleans during the perennial holiday season lull in convention bookings, approached local restaurants with an idea to offer and promote special holiday menus. Restaurants eagerly embraced the idea and soon so did their local regulars and out of town visitors. Many of New Orleans finest restaurants are doing 4 course pre-fixe dinners from $24 up to $40.

Papa Noel hotel rates are nice with rooms in some 4 star hotels starting at $69 for the month of December. It is a tradition for many of the finer hotels to offer reduced rates.

Don’t forget the free Christmas concerts at St Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square every Sunday thru Wednesday for the month of December.

Also every Tuesday thru Thursday at Canal Place you can attend for free the fabulous cooking demonstrations by some of New Orleans finest Chefs.

New Years Eve on Jackson Square where they do the Gumbo Drop is an exciting time, kind of reminds me of Times Square, lots of people and parades only it’s much warmer here.

Once the holidays are over Mardi Gras comes up pretty quick and this year it is early, February 13 marks the first parade.

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