Local Flavor: Bananas Foster in the Big Easy

Brennan’s has reconnected with an old flame.

Bananas Foster was invented at this New Orleans institution in 1951, and, after the restaurant’s 2013 closure and expansive refurbishing, the flammable, rum-soaked dessert will once again light up the French Quarter.

“It was the first tableside dish I nervously prepared when I was a boy,” says Ralph Brennan, Brennan’s new owner and nephew of the original proprietor. “The smell of butter and sugar caramelizing always brings me back to my childhood.”

The main ingredient of the signature dish—bananas—now grows in the updated courtyard, along with jasmine and orange trees.

And the booze isn’t limited to dessert, either—Brennan’s was one of the early supporters of the brunch trend. “We served more wine at breakfast than dinner,” says Brennan.

With that late-morning tradition resumed, this year’s Mardi Gras weekend revelers will be in especially high spirits.

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This piece, written by National Geographic Traveler assistant editor Hannah Sheinberg, first appeared in the magazine’s February 2015 issue. Follow Hannah on Twitter @hsheinberg.

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