I don’t usually write about food. There’s a reason for that. It’s because I don’t really know all that much about food.
In fact, that was the reason I got hired by Rouse’s Market several years ago to write for their free in-store food magazine. They found the observations of a writer from outside of “foodie” culture to be – shall we say – refreshing?
That is, until I got fired from the magazine because I didn’t know anything about food. But that’s another story for another day.
But let’s talk boudin for a minute. This particular and peculiar Louisiana specialty is one of those love/hate kinds of food. Like mint chocolate chip ice cream, perhaps. Or Brussel sprouts.
(Did you know that if you Google the definition of Brussel sprouts, the second question listed in the “People also ask” list is: “Do Brussel sprouts make you fart?” Not knowing a lot about food, I cannot answer that question for you. But I’m guessing – if that’s what everyone asks – then they probably do.)
Hell, I don’t even know if Brussel sprouts are actually even “sprouts.” But I digress.
Boudin, right? I love me some boudin. My partner, though, is reviled by it. Which is weird because she’s from Minnesota and was practically weened on Spam. She’s from Hormel Country, through and through. She insists I keep a can in my cupboard in case of emergency. It’s her staple comfort food, which is weird, because she’s actually from a town called Staples.
I’m not making this up, I promise.
I always considered Spam to be the lowest rung on the pork ladder. You start with shoulder and roast – right? – and then go to chops and then ribs and then bacon and then hot dogs and then bologna and then pork rinds and then – I dunno – pickled feet and lips?
But consider the efficacy of such a food chain. Everything but the squeal, as the saying goes. Nothing is wasted. No carbon foot (cloven hoof?) print, so to speak, is left behind.
This, of course, spoken by someone who just this past weekend ordered – with much timidity (temerity?) – ox tail ramen, at a great little Mid-City joint called Kin. And it was amazing. But you have to admit – even if you are a bona fide foodie – it’s not a subject you really want to dwell upon when you’re, well, eating ox tail ramen.
It was dark brown. And soupy. And made from a tail. Of an ox.
Some delicacies just don’t translate into narrative very well.
Boudin would be one of those. It’s a mystery sausage whose provenance on the pork food chain ladder eludes me. Certainly near the bottom, right? It’s usually got liver in it, for instance, and I am adamantly a non-organ eater. I’m no Hannibal Lector.
But I do love me some boudin.
My partner’s job requires her to drive all over the state of Louisiana, fixing machines and keeping customers satisfied. When alerted that she is heading to the southwest part of the state, I always ask – with unusual urgency, it seems – if she will be passing near the town of Scott, a tiny burg off I-10 between Lafayette and Lake Charles.
There’s a little place there called the Best Stop. And it is. For cracklins, andouille and – you guessed it: boudin. Sometimes I can prevail upon her to go out of her way to go there and stock up for me. It’s strange, though: By the time she gets back to New Orleans, the cracklins have always somehow just… vanished.
Boudin. Cracklins. Andouille. Beignets. Crawfish etouffee. Catfish couvillion. Fried shrimp and cheese po boy with roast beef gravy (Domilise’s). Fried oysters topped with blue cheese on a bed of sauteed spinach (Clancy’s). Alligator sausage and shrimp cheesecake (Jacques-Imo’s).
I don’t understand any of it. Not a word.
Anyway, this Saturday is the annual Boudin, Bourbon & Beer festival, a fundraiser for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation. I’m not going because I am otherwise employed, but I would if I could. Because I love me some boudin. And all that other stuff.