#39 Nobody, Dat’s Who!

MSaints Logo - Fleur de Lisan, I thought I wuz done with dis bloggin’ stuff.  Thought dere wasn’t anything else good to write about.  And dat was mostly true, until the other day dat is.  See, cuz dat’s when this funny little thing happened.  You might have heard about it.  You know, when dem SAINTS WON THE WHOLE DAMN SUPERBOWL!!!  Wooooo Hooooo!!! WHO DAT?  WHO DAT? Nobody, DAT’s Who All You Hatin’ Couyons!!!  Oh pooh yaille,  I gotta sit down now.

Mais, if you not a Saint’s fan, then I’m sorry cher.  I’m not tryin’ to gloat or nothin’.  Dis long-time Saints fan knows what it’s like to be handed an ass whupping, and it don’t feel too good no.  I’m jus celebratin’ cause I’m happy like a guy who shot a 20 point buck on his wedding day.

Now, I’m not of those guys who likes to take credit for the winning of others, but you should know that me and my old lady and my cuz T-Boy prayed the rosary between plays (and sips of Natural Light).  And when we was down by 10, I started bargaining with the big guy himself.  I was like, ‘Come on Brah, you know we need this.  I tell you what – you give us this one and we promise to give up drinkin’ an cussin’ for Lent’.  My wife and Cuz, they shot me a face, but I told dem that’s the way it’s gonna be.  And not too long after that, the Saints, they come back and the rest is histoire.  Why, dis ole boy got so caught up celebrating that night I even picked up a few crunkin moves.  Things, they got so crazy, I laid a big kiss on Cuz’s lips by accident.  It was a little bit uncomfortable after dat, but then he punched me in the mouth and called me a big sissy and that was that.

Outsiders say dis makes up for Katrina, but I don’t know what these couyons are talking about, cause this has nothing to do with Katrina.  Ain’t no Superbowl fairy gonna come fly down and rebuild all dem houses that got all flooded and stuff.  We all a lil bit happier these days, but dat doesn’t mean it’s all good.

From now on, I’m hostin’ a  Saints Superbowl party every year.  Everybody’s invited!  And if my Saints not in it, that’s ok, we’ll just play dis one again (I got a copy for my video player).  My house, my rules.

#30 High School Football

On Friday nights between August and December, small town Cajuns can be found enjoying the local high school football game all around Acadiana. They go for different reasons, but whether it’s to root for a relative’s son, or support their home town, high school football is cheap, fun entertainment for the whole family. It’s like a Saint’s game, but sometimes your home team actually wins one. (Ok, I know the Saints have been very good the past few seasons, but they’ll forever be frozen in my memory as the loveable never-won-a-playoff-game Saints of my youth.)

Sitting amongst the crowd, you can hear the locals yelling out plays from the bleachers. Pick up dat ball couyon! Block dat kick! Pass de ball to T-Boy over dere! The stands are filled with old timers reliving the football glory of their youth, with only a pair of busted knees and a worn out letterman jacket to show for it.

Louisiana football players have been well represented in the NFL. Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw was born in Shreveport Louisiana (I know Shreveport is barely part of Louisiana, but I’m still counting him). In recent years, Jake Delhomme, Peyton and Eli Manning, Kevin Faulk, Marshall Faulk, Bobby Boucher, and many others have proudly represented our state. In terms of population, only Washington DC and Mississippi have more NFL players. Not bad for a bunch of Louisiana boys.

Most high school football games are a blast, but nothing beats the excitement of playing a rival team, usually from the neighboring town. This is a game of high stakes, since the losing town has to endure a year of taunts and humiliation from the winning side. The big game for me was the Cecilia Bulldogs vs the Breaux Bridge Tigers. Readers of The Daily Advertiser voted this game the largest high school rivalry in Louisiana. In the week leading up to the game, trash talking ramps up, houses are toilet papered, and fights break out between students as tensions rise. On the night of the big game, the whole town practically shuts down as just about everyone goes to the game. This is the loudest game of the season with chants of De-Fense and the thunder of synchronized bleacher stomping filling the air. Even in a losing season, we Cecilia locals can hold our head up high as long as we manage to whup Breaux Bridge. What’s your towns big rivalry?

Cecilia Bulldog Fight Song

Fight for our colors, green and gold
Fight for our honour, heart and soul

Lift up her glory, lift up her name

Shake down the thunder with her fame

Win or lose, we’ll never be blue
We stand together, loyal and true

We’re from Cecilia, this is our song

Cecilia, right or wrong, Hey!

#29 Squirrel Hunting

If it’s got four legs, a Coonass will shoot it, clean it, throw it in a pot and make a gravy out of it. This saying even holds true for the tastiest member of the rodent family, the squirrel. And while these critters are scrumptious, they’re even more fun to hunt.

Squirrel hunting is a favorite pastime of Acadiana natives, and nowhere is it more popular than in the small town of Ville Platte. In fact, it is so popular in Ville Platte that the opening day of squirrel hunting season is a town holiday and schools shut down early. The holiday was a no-brainer, considering it was a choice between giving students the day off or having the whole town play hooky for the day. It come as no surprise that Ville Platte was crowned Squirrel Town U.S.A. by Field and Stream magazine.

Throughout the hunting season, boys (and some girls) as young as 5 head out into the woods with their fathers, shotguns in hand and clothed in a bright orange safety vests. Hunters walk silently through the woods scanning their surroundings for telltale signs of gray or fox squirrels like chewed up acorns or pine comb stems falling to the ground in a helicopter pattern. Sometimes they’ll use a bark call to fool the squirrels into responding with barks of their own. Together, father and son will stay in the woods until they shoot their daily limit, or the sunset forces them to call it a day.

On opening day, and throughout squirrel season, you can hear shotgun blasts ringing out in the distance, so much so that after a while you stop noticing them. A big part of squirrel hunting’s appeal is the amount of action a squirrel hunter gets (not dat kind of action couyon!). Compared to the sit-and-wait style of deer hunting, squirrel hunters get to shoot their guns a lot more and are more likely to bring home a kill than their deer hunting counterparts (though the payoff for a deer hunter is a lot better). It’s a lot more fun for a young boy to hunt squirrels than it is to get them to sit still for 5 hours in a deer stand.

For the uninitiated, eating a rodent might sound unappetizing, but trust me, squirrel is delicious. Cooked properly, squirrel meat is more tender than chicken. My favorite squirrel meal is in a brown sauce over rice, but some people prefer it in a gumbo. Squirrel brain is considered a delicacy by some (not by dis Cajun boy). My uncle used to make the little cooked squirrel heads talk before cracking them open and getting at their juicy brains. With the recent linking of squirrel brain eating to a form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob, or mad cow disease, I have one more reason to stay away.

The 2008 squirrel season was something special. For only the second year in history, Louisiana state officials have declared a second squirrel season from May 3 through May 25 on private land and from May 3 through May 11 on public land. This is like having a second Christmas. I don’t know if Ville Platte declared a second squirrel holiday for this one, but I suspect there were a lot of absences that day.

#28 Grattons (Cracklins)

Crunchy, salty, and almost 100% pure fat, cracklins are the original Cajun snack food. Cracklins, also known as grattons (grah-tawns), are the result of a poor people’s desire to use every part of the pig. Years ago, Cajun families and neighbors regularly got together for boucheries, or community hog butcherings. Every family pitched in to help butcher and clean the hog and left with their share of the animal. No part of the hog was wasted. In addition to meat, the hog also provided tripe, hogs head cheese, organs, pigs feet, ears, and the tail. Fat was scraped off of the remaining skin to produce lard for cooking, and finally, the remaining skin and attached fat was shaved (hogs are hairy), cut into bite sized cubes and fried to produce grattons. After being removed from the fryer, the grattons were seasoned and served. I’ll bet your favorite snack food doesn’t require shaving.

Made of almost pure saturated fat and heavily salted, these delicious treats have no doubt contributed to Louisiana’s high rate of diabetes and heart disease. While most Cajuns don’t eat cracklins as often as their parents once did, grattons remain a guilty pleasure amongst Acadians. Best Stop alone sells over 2500 lbs of these treats daily.

Nowadays, a community boucherie is a rare event. If you want your gratton fix, you can usually find them wherever boudin is sold. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can try making them yourself, but be prepared to scrub the resulting oil slick off of your kitchen floor and have your house smell like fried pork for a week (not a bad thing in this Coonass’s opinion).

#27 Deep Fried Turkey

Cajun people loved fried food. Name a food, and it can probably be made ten times tastier by dropping it in a vat of hot oil, at least that’s the Cajun culinary philosophy. Okra, eggplant, boudin and pig skin all benefit from deep frying, so it was just a matter of time until a Cajun figured out how to fry a turkey. Why a turkey you ask…well why not? Cajuns are always trying to top themselves, and a turkey is the largest critter that’s practical to fry. The peanut oil required to fry a whole cow is cost prohibitive (I already looked into it), not to mention the damage it would do to the above ground swimming pool!

The first reaction people have when they hear about fried turkey is that it’ll be too greasy, something that couldn’t be further from the truth. For one thing, the turkey isn’t battered, so there’s not much for the fat to hang onto in the finished turkey. Secondly, a turkey is a big bird, with a lower surface area to volume ratio than chicken. This reduces the overall fat content per serving. The frying process actually seals in juices, and the high heat cooks the bird with little loss of moisture. The simple fact is that there’s no better way to cook a turkey than deep frying it.

Here’s how turkey frying works. First, you thaw a medium sized turkey, about 8-12 pounds. Then you inject or stuff the bird with seasoning (Cajun injector works best). Next, you lower the turkey into a large pot of hot peanut oil, and after about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on size, you’re done. Remove the turkey from the oil, let cool, carve up and dig in. If done right, you get a nice crispy outside, and the meat inside is the juiciest you’ve ever tasted (yes, it’s even better than your mama’s baked turkey).

I’d like to claim that the Cajuns invented the fried turkey, but I just don’t have any hard evidence to back that up. Famed Cajun Justin Wilson said he observed the practice of turkey frying in Louisiana as early as the 1930s. One thing that is certain, is that this tradition came out of the South, and in recent years, has become quite the rage across the country. This popularity has also led to an increase in the number of accidents, which has given turkey frying a bad name. Usually, it’s some fool that’s drinking and fryin’, or drops a partially thawed turkey into the grease. You’re messin with hot grease couyon, be careful you! If done correctly, turkey frying is perfectly safe. Like most other things, there’s a right way and a wrong way wrong way to do it.

So next time one of the major turkey holidays rolls around, give fried turkey a try. I guarantee you’ll never want to go back to the old way again.

#15 Poo-Poo Broussard

My Lips is Chapped! It’s a catchphrase recognized by Cajuns all over Acadiana, the Coonass equivalent of “What you talkin’ about Willis”. If you haven’t heard about Cajun sensation Poo-Poo Broussard by now, then you’ve been living under a rock. His appeal is almost universal among Cajuns, eliciting deep belly laughs (and the occasional groan) from all who hear him.

Whether talking about his lip hydration issues, or his considerable lady skills, Poo-Poo’s unique Cajun wisdom always shines through. Poo-poo likes to hand out his witticisms from his porch in the form of PooPooisms, like #49 ‘If someone gives you lemons, make lemonade. If someone gives you the crabs, cook some rice.’ Another favorite PooPooism is #111, ‘they say that a penny saved is a penny earned…but what the hell you gonna buy with a penny…nuthin, that’s what’.

What’s the secret to Poo-Poo’s success? His appeal lies in the fact that he’s a homegrown act, a Cajun making fun of his own kind. Who doesn’t have an uncle or cousin just like Poo-Poo? He’s not the product of a bunch of Hollywood writers laughing at us (think Adam Sandler in Waterboy). And just look at him, he is one smooth dude. From his nice big smile to his sharp attire, he’s like a Cajun George Clooney. All the ladies wanna be with him, and all the men want to be him.

Here’s a good in-depth article on Poo-Poo if you haven’t had your fill of him yet.

Here’s the video that started it all, My Lips is Chapped:

An Open Letter to ‘Dem Crazy Book Publishers

So I turn on the computer and see you gave my cuz over at stuffwhitepeoplelike a $300,000 book deal. Keeyaww! Man I liked to fall on the floor and die laughing when I read dat.

You couyons coulda had my book for the price of a seafood platter and a box of #2 buckshot! Course, if you want spell checking, you’ll have to upgrade to my Deluxe Package and throw in a new deer stand. What does that get you, you ask? Well, I’ll go all out for you: overalls, white fishing boots, thick accent, the whole deal. You’ll get the 100% genuine Cajun experience. I’ll even wrestle an alligator or eat a raccoon if you think it’ll help sell the book.

In conclusion, give me money and I’ll write you a book. I’ll gaarontee you at least twany entries. We’ll stuff the middle of the book full of old Teche News articles (since nobody reads a whole book anyway). If you want to know more, Just write me here.

Sincerely,

StuffCajunPeopleLike Dude