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St. Louis and Mississippi River Cuisine

August 24, 2009 Le Cordon Bleu St. Louis 0 Comments

True to its heritage as the "Gateway to the West," St. Louis has a little something to offer everyone. From the nation’s second oldest symphony orchestra to championship sports teams to a history that dates back to pre-colonial times. But one of the biggest attractions of St. Louis is its food. That’s right, the food!

New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and even Chicago are most often thought of as great foodie destinations, but don’t forget about St. Louis. St. Louis cooking is some of the best and most diverse cuisine you can find anywhere.

Cultural Influences Are Cooking in St. Louis

Prior to the Louisiana Purchase, which made it part of the United States, St. Louis was governed by the French, Spanish, and English. Before these colonial rulers, it was part of the vast Mississippian Native American culture. Because of its location at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, St. Louis grew to become a hub for explorers, pioneers, and homesteaders headed west.

Each of these cultures left distinct finger prints on the cuisine of St. Louis. As a result, cooking in St. Louis is a blend of these and other cultural influences, including Cajun, Creole, and American soul food. Additional waves of immigration have brought more European influences, including German, Irish and Italian.

St. Louis Cooking a Mix of History and Styles

River traffic up and down the Mississippi has brought many cultural influences from the city of New Orleans to St. Louis. Outside of jazz and the blues, some of the most notable are Cajun and Creole cuisines. The dishes of these delightful cuisines feature many common ingredients indigenous to the Mississippi River and its Delta. Some are even a little strange.

One of the strangest is the crawfish. No Mississippi River cook worth his salt will go without crawfish on the menu. These versatile freshwater relatives of the lobster add a light and sweet succulence to each dish they are in. Whether it’s gumbo or a traditional crawfish boil, cooking in St. Louis means working with these odd little crustaceans. These “mudbugs” can be found in a host of tasty dishes including etouffee, crawfish pie, crawfish dressing, crawfish bread, and crawfish beignets.

St. Louis Culinary Programs Add to the Mix

Based on history, geography and a steady flow of Mississippi River traffic, St. Louis is literally an American melting pot when it comes to food. This crossroads of America offers many culinary programs that can train students in the traditions of the cultural influences of St. Louis. From German sausages to fine French cuisine to crawfish etouffee, cooking in St. Louis is a trip through some of the great cuisines of the world.

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts St. Louis. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts St. Louis offers Le Cordon Bleu culinary education classes and culinary training programs in St. Louis, Missouri. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/St-Louis for more information.

The jobs mentioned are examples of certain potential jobs, not a representation that these outcomes are more probable than others. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts St. Louis does not guarantee employment or salary.

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