New Orleans is famous for its delicacies: Po-boys, jambalaya, gumbo, beignets. But here's one you might not have heard of: Snoballs. From March to September, hundreds of shops in the city have lines of customers waiting to get their hands on this New Orleans tradition.
The snoball (also spelled snowball or sno-ball depending on the stand) is a cup of finely shaved ice topped with fruit syrup. If you think this sounds exactly like a snow cone, don't you dare say that in New Orleans.
If the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival had a Mayor, Vance Vaucresson could be a serious contender.
Even when he's behind his family's sausage po-boy tent, tucked under a New Orleans Saints ball cap and wearing sunglasses, five minutes don't go by without someone stopping by to say hello to him.
"It's like a reunion around here," Vaucresson said between visits. "We're a family, all the vendors."
He shakes a lot of hands, and says a lot of hellos.
"He's just a super friendly, personable guy," festival food director Michelle Nugent said.
Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
If you’ll be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, lucky you.
The Southern Foodways Alliance celebrates the unique food of New Orleans. Today's story comes courtesy of Sara Roahen, author of "Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table."
First things first: a New Orleans sno-ball is not a snow cone - a pre-frozen, rock-hard concoction like those sold from ice cream trucks and concession stands elsewhere. As each of our New Orleans Sno-Balls oral history subjects attest, New Orleans sno is a product of locally made, carefully stored, and expertly shaved-to-order ice.
The sugary syrups that color and flavor a New Orleans sno-ball are equally important to the final product, and each sno-ball maker protects his own syrup recipes. In fact, a majority of the recipes at Hansen’s Sno-Bliz in Uptown, Williams Plum Street Snowballs near Riverbend, and Sal’s Sno-Balls in Old Metairie have survived several generations of ownership.