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Can any of you recommend any local (for you) places that have unusually good seafood/meat/produce/whatever. I'm looking for local markets that have produce fresh of the farm, or seafood places that have shellfish brought in that morning right off the boat, etc. (I remember buying mussels at such a place in Freeport, NY, on Long Island)

Outside of New Orleans, on the west bank of the Mississippi River, is the town of Westwego. There is an area there that has a double row of booth, maybe 25 on each side of the parking lot, where you can buy shrimp, crabs and fish in season. Some are run by the folks that run the local seafood markets and some are run by the wives of the shrimpboat owners. Each stand usually has 5 or 7 Igloo ice chests filled with ice and shrimp. You go up to the girl and ask her “what yo got today”. She starts opening the ice chests and says, “We got these at $2.25, these at $2.75, these at $3.25, 5 or more pounds at $3.00, these at $3.75, 5 or more at $3.50, these at $4.25, 5 or more at $4.00 and jumbos in those chests. What size do you want.” The shrimp are whole, with the head on. I usually go from stand to stand looking for the freshest ones in the size that I want. The fresh ones have a sort of iridescent shine to them on the tails. The crabs are alive and, this year, ranged in price from $6.00 a dozen for gumbo crabs to $12.00 a dozen for the jumbo ones. They also have soft-shell crabs in season along with fish. The best time for shrimp is usually from mid August until October. It starts tapering off in November and is finished in December.

When I worked in New Orleans I would usually drive over there on Fridays during the season on my lunch hour and buy 5 or 10 pounds. I would bring them home, pinch off the heads and cook a pound or two for supper. The rest I would put into pint “Ziplock” freezer bags, fill the bags with water and squeeze out the air before sealing. I would put them in the freezer for trips to visit relatives in the Midwest and on the East coast. Frozen in water they wouldn't get freezer burn and would keep well for 2 to 3 years. Every year, the day before Thanksgiving, I would do a shrimp boil for the in-laws in Indiana. This year there will be around 50 of them coming. I plan to make my last trip to “Wego” around noon today to get a last batch of 20 or 15 pounds of shrimp to take with us on ice. We leave for Indiana tomorrow with about 40 pounds of frozen shrimp.

If you want, I can post directions on how to get there. About 25 miles west of New Orleans is the town of Laplace, the “Andouille Sausage Capital of the World”. There are a number of sausage makers in town that make the Cajun favorites such as Andouille sausage, tasso, boudin, gumbo mix, smoked birds, hogs head cheese, ect. Its worth the drive to stock up on these Cajun favorites.


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