A New Orleans Favorite – The Creole Tomato Festival

Fertile, alluvial (made from sand and/or earth left by rivers) soil south of New Orleans in St. Bernard and/or Plaquemines Parishes is what truly defines a Creole tomato in the Greater New Orleans area. The plants are grown and harvested all over the Southern Louisiana region, but true Creole tomatoes get their unique color, shape and flavor from the type of soil in which they are planted.

“It’s a more intense, stronger taste, and the flavor has more acid; to me, it kind of has an earthy taste that you don’t get from any other tomato,” says Ben Becnel Jr. is a sixth-generation farmer at the family-run Ben & Ben Becnel’s Farmstand in Belle Chasse.

Because of the semi-tropical, coastal, southern climes in Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes, Creole tomatoes can also grow and be picked from mid-April, all the way to the next January, weather permitting. This differentiates this unique tomato from others grown in the state as well.

These tomatoes were featured in the 37th Annual Creole Tomato Festival, held June 10th and 11th at the New Orleans French Market. Originally founded in 1986, the weekend’s festival included live music, artists,surrounding restaurants offering Creole tomato special dishes, kids’ activities and cooking demos.

Live music was held on 3 stages throughout the weekend, and fifteen vendors sold locally sourced tomatoes in culinary delights, such as fried green tomatoes, shrimp remoulade and seafood gazpacho. The French Market in New Orleans is the oldest open-air market in the United States, and the weekend’s events reflected that unique history and heritage.

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