Until recently many residents of Monett, Mo., couldn’t even pronounce muffaletta. “They’d say, ‘I want that big sandwich with the big name,’” says chef Darren Indovina. Thanks to the Gulf's post-Katrina diaspora, small towns like Monett are getting their first taste of real Cajun cooking, the AP reports. Displaced chefs have opened restaurants in locales from Nevada to West Virginia.
As the rest of America learns to enjoy crawfish, beignets, and gumbo, residents of New Orleans are expanding their palates. People from other parts of the country are opening restaurants there, helping the city recover. That suits Irving Harrell, who gave Las Vegas its first authentic Cajun joint, and isn’t going back. “I would rather remember it as a happy place,” says Harrell.