Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Cajun world: meat stores

As explained by my Sson, the Cajun culture is basically a meat and rice culture. The meat store, of which I saw several, is an important source of basic food supplies, such as boudin and cracklin. Charlie-T's is one local favorite in the Lafayette region. The most critical portion of the store is at the rear -- the smoke house. (Later note: I'm linking to the boudin page; please take a look at the map -- it's a picture of the area I was visiting...)

Another local favorite: The Best Stop supermarket. Each meat store has its own private family recipes for the assorted sausage goodies purveyed; every store has its followers who argue over where one can buy the best boudin.

I believe that the boudin is on the upper shelf in the picture above. Sson says that it evolved from traditional French blood sausage; the Cajun favorite is a mix of rice, seasoning and pork meat pieces which can be squeezed from the casing.

Other major main dishes in Cajun Louisiana: crawdads and shrimp.

The grandchildren love cracklins ... a candy-rich deep fried snack made from pork rinds with fat and meat attached. Not a food any cardiologist would ever OK. I found it yummy, but very filling.

Want to try alligator meat? The Best Stop can fill your order.

Though called a "supermarket", this store's line of produce was limited to onions, potatoes and yams. Not even the other basic Cajun veggies, green peppers and celery.

Among the packaged foods on the shelves. Zatarain's products are close to being staples in Louisiana. I believe I've seen the dirty rice mix at our local Prescott supermarkets, BTW.

And, next the cash register, a bulletin board where partisans of The Best Stop's brand of meats can sign up. I didn't see whether or not that picture of Elvis at right carried a signature.


Anonymous said...

Considering the time that I lived and worked in NO, I fear about the only Cajun fare I sampled was red beans and rice (not bad) and crawdad tails.

A sign of the proximity of Lafayette to the oil industry is the smoker the body of which is large diameter gas pipeline pipe.


Granny J said...

Bro -- you were young and innocent back then. speaking of the oll bidness, the one item I missed getting was a walking beam. Only saw a handful & none was properly visible to my camera from the car...

The Artful RV Adventurer said...

Between the deep fried food temptations and the heat and humidity that keeps one indoors under the air conditioner, I would expect to weigh an additional 100 pounds if I lived there!
Mark... The Artful RV Adventurer

Anonymous said...

My wife and I visited NO about 10 years ago. Stayed a week and ate some great food. Would love to go back, but don't know how the city is now (crime wise).

Granny J said...

mark -- I'm surprised at the folk who don't have the fried food & air conditioning temptations that put on the weight, anyhow. However, it was spring (and beautiful) while I was in the South; in fact, Memphis was a bit on the coolish side.

steve -- I didn't get near NO; however, Lafayette is the heart of the Cajun country; NO, I'm told, is, instead, Creole.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that's right .... NOLA is Creole.

Granny J, I've been a-waitin' for these pitchas!

I've made several trips to Lafayette, Abbeville, Scott, Crowley, St. Martinville (lovely town!), Mamou (I got up early to go to Fred's Lounge for his live radio broadcast). Love Cajun and Zydeco music, love the food! A person has to lose 15 lbs before they go there. Yum! Especially the cheddar cheese and jalapeno corn bread served at crawfish (not crawdad) boils.

Did you see much residual hurricane damage from both Katrina and Rita? Heard lots of cattle pastures, and crawfish and rice farms were ruined. Is the Cajun economy starting to recover?

~Anon in AV.

Granny J said...

anon av -- Sson & I drove through Scott, Abbbeville and we stopped for a short walk through Breaux Bridge, which is enjoying a small renaissance (pictures later).

As for the impact of the big hurricanes: the rice paddies and crawfish ponds seemed to be very much in business, but we went through Cameron on the coast, which was pretty much wiped out with not a great deal rebuilt.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report. So sorry to hear about Cameron. I'm guessing Holly Beach is not rebuilt either.

Granny J said...

anon av -- we didn't get as far as Holly Beach, so I have no idea...

Lucy said...

This is so interesting, with the way the French influence has morphed and combined with other things... Boudin here is like the British/Irish black and white puddings (same origin word), something fatter and moister then that sausage looks to be. Andouille was originally a Breton speciality,I think, and is one of the most disgusting things I've ever tasted, reminiscent of smoked rubber marinaded in pig poo! It's a joke how the Brits here can't be persuaded to touch it.

Cracklin, though is not at all French. It's very traditionally British, we roast the pork rind separately from the meat, with salt so it crisps up; you can't buy pork with the rind left on here, we sometimes ask our butcher for a piece, but he is quite surprised.

'But that's full of cholesterol!' he admonished
'So what do you do with it?'I asked.
'We put it in the charcuterie.'

Vive la gastronomie...

Granny J said...

Thank you, Lucy, for comment from France. I had always thought that cracklin had roots in the Southern Black culture; to find that it is British bowls me over! As for the sausage, Wikipedia assures me that boudin blanc is the origin for the Cajun product; and boudin blanc sounds very much like my favorite German bockwurst.

Tim said...

Good Job! :)

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